“May you live in interesting times” is said to be considered by some a curse. I don’t know if that is true, but one thing of which I am sure is we live in such a time today. Luke 25 speaks of men’s hearts failing for fear. I’m not sure that has literally happened, yet, but we certainly live in a time when it seems it could happen. Our economy staggers about like a punch drunken fighter, our nation is facing enemies on the left and right that are unlike any we have ever faced before, who’s most effective weapon is fear. The very fabric of our economy seems on the verge of tearing itself apart. Worse, it seems our leaders are unable or unwilling to address the real issues, blindly pursuing their own agendas, while ignoring the growing outcry of the “ordinary citizen”. Many pundits have already issued America’s “death certificate” declaring that our “great experiment” has failed and we must transform ourselves into a socialistic, post-Christian society if we are to hope to survive at all. Even some Christian leaders have declared that America is finished as a world power, consigning it to third world status at best. I don’t know where you stand on this, but speaking for myself, I have one word to say “HOGWASH!” Actually I would like to use stronger language, but let’s keep it family friendly.
What then are we as the church to do? Well the answer is in verse 28 of the same passage:
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
We, the Church, should not be looking at worldly circumstances. Nor should we be surprised that our elected officials, talking head pundits, and self appointed leaders are seemingly clueless. Ever since the Warren Court rulings on the “establishment clause” of the Second Amendment, God has been progressively shoved aside in government, education, public, and private life. We, the Church have stood by wringing our hands, and perhaps raising an occasional timid protest, convinced that Jefferson’s (and Madison’s) “wall of separation” meant that we could and should have no voice in our government or the path chosen for this nation. Yet it would appear that this was never the intent of our founders. The context of the discussion at the time was worry over the establishment of an official state sanctioned church, a situation that had caused many of our early settlers to flee to America in the first place. Indeed, both Jefferson and Madison attended church on Sundays in the House of Representatives. Many Federal office buildings, including the Supreme Court chambers were host to services. These voluntary services were open to all faiths and preachers from many denominations ministered there. This practice continued until the late 1800’s.
The Warren Court invented a wall of separation that exiled religion from government. The church meekly obeyed, after all wasn’t politics a dirty trade best avoided? What was the result of all of this? Pretty much what you might expect if you are a reader of the Word, a godless, clueless government awash in lies, corruption, error and inefficiency. Never have Paul’s words seemed truer:
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’” 2 Corinthians 3:18-20
We should not be surprised that our leadership seems mired in such a mess. When the government is removed from the Shoulders upon which it is to be established, (Isaiah 9) the foundation is in danger of collapse. When the leadership does not seek the Wisdom that is from above, only foolishness is left. When those who are called by His Name are absent or passive, where is the light to keep all from stumbling in the dark?
There are those who would contend that the government of this country is and was always intended to be secular, but do the writings of the founders support their assertion? Let’s start by looking at a man celebrated to this day for his wit and intelligence, Benjamin Franklin:
“God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” –Constitutional Convention of 1787
Franklin also insisted in his educational plan for Pennsylvania schools that they teach “the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.” Nor was Dr. Franklin the only one of the founders to believe this way. There are far too many quotes to even begin to mention them all here. For now, let it suffice to say that most if not all of our founding fathers were Christians who honestly believed that for government to effectively function, God and Judeo-Christian faith MUST be the foundation. The honest scholar can only conclude that Judeo-Christian beliefs are vital and irreplaceable underpinnings of our society, essential to the very survival of this nation. Indeed it is essential to the very rule of law under which we live. In the words of James Wilson, signer of the Declaration, the Constitution, and member of the original Supreme Court:
“Christianity is part of the common law”
But what of all the quotes used to support the other point of view? Well, they are valid quotes, unless you consider the context from which they were removed. For instance, Adams is often quoted as saying; “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!” The context however reveals a much different meaning:
“…The Parson and the Pedagogue lived much together, but were eternally disputing about government and religion. One day, when the Schoolmaster had been more that commonly fanatical and declared if he were a Monarch, He would have but one Religion in his Dominion. The Parson cooly replied ‘Cleverly! You would be the best man in the world, if you had no religion.’
Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, ‘This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!’ But in this exclamatic I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell…” (Emphasis mine)
Adams was in this letter, expressing his desire that we not impose any denomination upon the people and that denominations put aside their differences and work together in peace.
What then is our role as believers in our government? What should we do if we are to ensure the predictions of the “doom and gloom” crowd are not to come to pass? How do we get this country back on the right path? Well first, we must count the cost. This will not be easy. We are being asked to take a stand, and when we do, we will be attacked. Those who stand up and say “This far and no further!” will be pilloried in the press. They will face scorn, libel, even hatred. They will be accused of intolerance, of fostering hate, and worse. False accusations of every kind will likely be leveled against them. Ministries that take a stand can expect to have their not for profit status endangered. Make no mistake, those who take a stand will be storming the very gates of hell and satan will spare no effort to turn them away.
Ok, ready to mix it up? Good. First, let’s deal with our attitudes. Ask the Lord for His eyes, His heart and His mind. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against some of satan’s most powerful minions, even at some point satan himself. The counter attack will be fierce, and SEEM personal, but we must always remember that the origin of the attacks will always be satan, not the ones speaking.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
Once we have that clear in our minds, it is time for battle. This must take place on a couple of fronts if we are to succeed. The first one is the spiritual. We can not expect to accomplish anything without God’s favor and intervention, but with them, we can not fail. This is the realm of prayer, a place of worship, of intercession and of divine declarations from the throne of God. Here we humble ourselves, repent of our passivity in the face of evil, our selfishness in seeking comfort when we should have drawn a line in the sand. This is the place where we turn from our wicked ways, take up our staff and begin to defend our lentil field crying, “This far and no further!” This is the place where we begin to enter into the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Prayer and intercession while vital, is not enough. We must also make a stand for righteousness and godliness in our nation, Edmund Burke, an Irish statesman and philosopher is often quoted as having said; “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil in America is that good men do nothing.” While it has never been proven conclusively that he actually said this, the truth of the statement itself is incontrovertible. If we are to cause this nation to turn, we must become involved in its governance.
So then, what does that look like? In short, it depends. We are each called to be involved, certainly by voting, but in other areas as God directs. The possibilities are nearly endless, writing letters to the editor, contacting your public officials, encouraging godly men and women to run for office and then supporting them with finances, prayer and practically, perhaps…dare I even say it…running for office yourself. Ask God how He wants you involved and then obey. Perhaps you are a teacher and in the position to expose your students to the writings of the founding fathers. Maybe you are a successful businessman admired in the community and are called to run for office. Perhaps you are already in office and God is calling you to a higher office. You might be a preacher who recognizes the leadership calling in a member and encourages them to step into the public arena. The thing is to get involved. Do what you can to turn this nation around. In the 1828 preface to his American Dictionary to the English Language, Daniel Webster wrote:
“In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed…No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
A people of devout faith in God settled our land. They believed a strict adherence to Judeo-Christian principles was essential to our establishment, prosperity and continued existence. From the covenants of Jamestown, and Massachusetts, to the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of the Confederation, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights, those beliefs are woven into the very fabric of our government and society. That religion is not mentioned much in these documents is not a reflection of our founders lack of faith, but rather of their careful efforts to prevent the kind of regulation we have today. The desire was not to protect from religion, but to protect the free expression of religion.
All this will not happen overnight, the erosion of our religious foundations has taken place over many years, and, unless God intervenes supernaturally, it will take years to restore the breach. As we begin to step out, repenting of our past indifference, stepping into the public arena, while asking God to move upon this nation, I believe that He will begin to move on our behalf. If we step out in obedience, and put aside our petty denominational differences (and compared to the preciousness of His Blood and His work on the Cross, are they not all petty?) God WILL move on our behalf, He WILL hear our prayers, and heal our land. Awakening will come, and America will once again be that shining beacon on a hill showing the path to freedom and salvation. We are indeed in times of trial as a nation, but if we fix our eyes on God, and focus our efforts on obedience to His will, the days to come may well be known as the finest America as yet seen.
“Although guided by our excellent Constitution in the discharge of official duties, and actuated, through the whole course of my public life, solely by a wish to promote the best interests of our country;yet, without the beneficial interposition of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, we could not have reached the distinguished situation which we have attained with such unprecedented rapidity. To HIM, therefore, should we bow with gratitude and reverence, and endeavor to merit a continuance of HIS special favors”. George Washington in a 1797 letter to John Adams