Summary: Perhaps it's time for us as Christians to move out of our advisory mindset and into soiling our hands in the work of transformation.
“A Nation Under God: The Solution”
As a story goes, there was once an elderly man who used to get up regularly at the prayer meeting in his church, always with the same prayer: “Use me, Lord, use me – in some advisory capacity!” Whether or not it’s true, it’s cute – but perhaps it’s all too accurate a picture of many Christians. Consider these words, spoken decades ago by a French Communist: “The Gospel is a much more powerful weapon for the renewal of society than is our Marxist philosophy. All the same, it is we who will finally beat you. We are only a handful – you Christians are numbered in the millions; but, if you remember the story of Gideon and his companions, you will understand why I am right. We Communists do not play with words. We are realists and determined to achieve our objective; we know how to obtain the means. Of our salaries and wages, we keep only what is strictly necessary and we give up the rest for propaganda purposes. To this propaganda, we also consecrate all of our free time and part of our holidays. You, however, give only a little time, hardly any money, for the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How can any of you believe in the supreme power of the Gospel if you do not practice it? If you do not spread it? If you do not sacrifice either time or money for it? Believe me, it is we who will win for we believe in the Communist message and we are ready to sacrifice everything, even our life, in order that social justice may triumph; but you people are afraid to soil your hands.” Perhaps the solution for becoming a nation under God lies in we Christians moving out of our advisory mindset and into soiling our hands in the work of transformation.
Scripture certainly supports this. The chronicler, in 2 Chronicles 7, believed it. “…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 will heal their land.” Laid alongside the words of Jeremiah our solution becomes clear. First, we must ADOPT A POSITION. The government cannot solve all our problems – in fact, it creates some of them. The chronicler said (7:13) that when God issues judgment, when the seasons and times are bad, He’s waiting to act: “I will heal their land…my eyes will be open and my ears attentive…” As The people of God we must BE DIFFERENCE MAKERS. God said (Jer. 5:1) “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.” All it takes is one difference maker. But God does not expect the ungodly to make the difference.
The chronicler says the people who are called by God’s name are the ones who make that difference. We are the people called by His name! As Pope John Paul II said, “…if man allows himself to be prompted by God, if he walks together with Him, he is capable of changing the world.” (1) God placed Esther (4:14) in the king’s court at a crucial time to do what only she could do, and she preserved the Jewish race. God placed Joseph in a powerful position in Egypt at just the right time to save Jacob and his family and thus preserve the lineage of Jesus. God, the Sovereign Lord of history, has placed us where we are for a purpose. God has placed and equipped us to do what needs to be done here and now at this point in history.
Bill Bright, the late founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, similarly noted, “Spiritual revival is the key to changing America…In my opinion, the only way to change the world is to change individuals.” (2) As we established last week, change needs to begin with and in us. And it BEGINS WITH HUMILITY. 2ND Chronicles 7: “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves…” Humility STARTS WITH REPENTANCE. Jeremiah 3:13 & 25: “‘Only acknowledge your guilt – you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’ declares the Lord…Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our fathers; from our youth until this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”
Our nation’s founding fathers understood the need for repentance. John Hancock, on April 15, 1775 in response to the beginning of the war for independence, declared a day of fasting. “Resolved; ...Thursday the 11th of May...to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared, to confess the sins that have deserved them, to implore the Forgiveness of all our transgressions, and a spirit of repentance and reformation…” In his famous declaration for a national day of ‘public humiliation, prayer and fasting’ President Lincoln said, “[It] is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals, to humble ourselves before Him, and to pray for His mercy, -- to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved…”