Summary: We must be a leavening influence on our society.
One of George Washington’s first official acts as president was to give the Thanksgiving Proclamation, which reads, "Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor..."
Abraham Lincoln once said, "It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."
Woodrow Wilson once said, "The Bible...is the one supreme source of revelation of the meaning of life, the nature of God and spiritual nature and need of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of peace and salvation."
As a result of such leadership, over much of the past 200 years, this country has been known as a "Christian nation" because of its professed allegiance to God and his Word. But things are rapidly changing. "One nation under God" we say in our pledge of allegiance to the flag, but "a nation without God" is what we are rapidly becoming. The passage read a few moments ago from Romans 1 seems to describe in detail our society in the United States today. We are not only a nation of those who do things immoral, but “also approve those who practice them.” (Rom. 1:32).
Several years ago, there was a group of preachers in Virginia who reported on some evangelistic work they had done in Ukraine. They said that they were given a lot of opportunities to speak to the children in schools in the city of Zhitomir. The administration and students were all excited to have someone come in and talk about their Christian faith during the schoolday.
But it was embarrassing for them on one occasion when a child asked the question, "Do schools study from the Bible in America?" With great shame, they had to tell the child, "No, in America, we’re not allowed to study the Bible in our schools" and the child was left with a very puzzled look. How ironic that a country we have considered to be atheistic for years is allowing us to teach the Bible in their schools, but here in the so-called "Christian nation" of America, we’re not allowed to do that. We can pass condoms out because it’s important to teach our children responsibility, but we don’t dare corrupt their minds by reading one verse out of the Bible or we risk being thrown into jail.
Surely our founding fathers had none of this in mind when they advocated a separation of church and state. Our current leaders have twisted "freedom of religion" to mean "freedom from religion". There are many times I sit and wonder where this country is headed. Is it on such a path of moral decline that it’s destined for the same end result as the Roman Empire?
I’m not trying to be pessimistic. But what I’d like to do this morning is to raise the question, "What should be a Christian’s response to all of this?" Long ago, David raised the question, "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3). In a day when the moral foundations of our country are being destroyed, we would do well to ask ourselves, "What can we as Christians do?" Let me suggest three things this morning.
I. Remember That There is a Standard of Morality
In Matthew 21, Jesus was asked by the chief priests and the elders, "By what authority are you doing these things?" (Matthew 21:23). Jesus responded with another question, asking them, "The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?" (Matthew 21:25). Jesus said that there are basically two possible sources of authority. It comes either from heaven or from men.
It’s very evident what the source of authority in our society is. We live in a world much like in the nation of Israel during the days of the judges. Several times, we’re told in the book of Judges that "everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25). Nobody was concerned about doing what God said to do. In fact, nobody was interesting in even knowing what God said to do. Everybody simply did whatever they thought was right, just like today.
If each of us is free to determine his or her own values, then who is to say that one way of life is better than any other? It’s like trying to organize a football game where every player serves as his own referee! In a world like that, everything becomes a matter of opinion and there is nothing that you can really depend upon. Doesn’t that sound like the world we’re living in today -- the world of "do your own thing" and "alternative lifestyles"?