Christians Focused on Christ At Last?
Although we have no data to prove it, our intuition tells us the church has engaged in more boycotts, demonstrations and political maneuvering in America over the last 40 years than in all the years before. With momentum established by the Moral Majority, the “Christian right” became the nation’s largest and most unified voting block. They were a decisive force in electing at least two Presidents (Reagan and George W. Bush), and no conservative politician campaigning for Congress could afford to ignore them.
Meanwhile, abortions continue apace, with legal same-sex marriages the so-called “homosexual agenda” has gathered momentum to a point once unimaginable, profanity and pornography have permeated mainstream entertainment, lawyers must constantly defend the right to pray in public, the economy is in a shambles, and rather than an increase in caring for the elderly and “the widow and the orphan” during these difficult times, this nation is seriously considering reductions in so-called “entitlement programs” such as Medicaid and Social Security.
How bad must it become for us to realize what we’re doing doesn’t work?
It’s long past time for the church in America to confess its role in all of this, repent, and lead the nation in the true role for which we were created. Picking up a cross and following Jesus certainly applies to politics in some individual believers’ lives, and we believe our nation desperately needs godly men and women in our government, but nowhere in the Bible are God’s people as a body called to change the world through politics.
We have made the mistake of Constantine all over again. The church had grown fantastically in the three centuries since Christ established it, precisely because it relied on God’s power alone, and had no earthly power whatsoever. Then that first Christian Roman emperor established Christianity as the official state religion, and the church went into moral decline almost instantly. “Indulgences,” priests and even popes with mistresses, restriction of access to God’s word, the Inquisition, and the murderous excesses of the Crusades are just a few of the abominations that followed the church’s rise to earthly power like toppling dominoes.
Consider: during the same decades that the American church as a body has increased its political focus and power, the members of the church as individuals have increased in divorces and decreased in tithes. Can that be coincidence? We think not.
Jesus Christ was very clear about the counterintuitive nature of godly leadership: it is not done from a position of earthly power; on the contrary, it is done from the posture of a servant.
“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve , and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)
Many give lip service to this teaching, but few are willing to actually live it out, even though Jesus came to earth specifically to model it for us:
“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force , withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15 NIV)
But God is patient and merciful. Yesterday we saw a glimmer of hope.
30,000 people assembled in Houston, Texas to pray for our nation. Not to lobby. Not to protest. Not to speechify. Simply to pray. Although Texas Governor Rick Perry was at the event, Luis Cataldo, of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and director of Saturday’s massive prayer rally in Houston said, “We’re not here to blame others . . . or to cause other people to do what we need to do.”
If God’s people, who are called along with Israel to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” will stop looking to unbelievers as the cause of America’s decline, and “do what we need to do” instead, then God will have genuine servant leaders in America with whom He can work to make a change. That is our true role as leaders: not to control via governments and force, but to model what it looks like to follow God, exactly as Jesus did.
How should we begin to correct our huge mistake?
James explained that very clearly, although we never seem to apply his words to ourselves:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:7-10 NIV)
It’s long past time for Christians in America to stop blaming unbelievers for their sins. This nation’s moral decline is our fault, period. We are called to be Christ’s body on the earth, servant leaders modeling our Lord’s own servitude, but we have given unbelievers no loving, godly model to point them toward Him. Only in that way can we be used by God to change the world, but we are the ones who changed, becoming almost indistinguishable from unbelievers.
We have failed the lost people of America. May the Lord build on the spirit of what happened in Houston yesterday to return our full attention to Him, in order to be used by Him to save our neighbors, and this nation.