It's with a sense of loss that I participated in the recent 4th of July Independence Day celebration. On one hand it reminded me of how grateful I am to be born in this nation and to benefit from immeasurable blessings from the Lord. The source of these blessings began more than four centuries ago, when Christian men and women of faith with a solid biblical worldview colonized, built and eventually birthed a unique nation. Under the influence of western political thought, enlightened by natural law and convicted by God's revealed truths, our founders created a national experiment that's still exceptional by any objective standard.
On the other hand, on that July day I had a foreboding sense of loss.
Our nation's founders granted enumerated powers to the national government, while simultaneously protecting and expecting the widespread application of Christian faith for the good of the nation and the glory of God (Isaiah 55:10-11). The relevance of God's Word to both governance and everyday life wasn't just beneficial to millions; it provided the foundation to resolve age old conflicts such as slavery, the value of women, the source and nature of individual rights and how to restrain governmental power (Galatians 3:28; John 19:11a).
Following an explosion of foreign missionary zeal in the 1800s (Acts 1:6-8), we as a people and a country routinely demonstrated compassion to untold millions around the world in times of severe famine, plague, natural disaster and war (Matthew 5:44; 22:39). In addition, with the unprecedented 20th century growth in national wealth, military power and government influence the greatest threats of the modern world were confronted and defeated (Nazism, Fascism and Soviet Communism).
Has our nation been perfect? Of course not! The treatment of Native Americans racial hatred, exploitation of the vulnerable and many other injustices are part of our history as we struggle to properly apply an inherited legacy of biblical values in the marketplace of competing ideas and worldviews.
Reflecting on our long record of unique blessings, challenges and triumphs, it's no small matter to see the application of scriptural moral principles to the issues of the day become so unwelcome in just one generation. Not only has the moral conscience provided by Christianity become relatively silent, but in most public and many private realms it's also seen as irrelevant at best.
Though the seeds were planted earlier, my generation has witnessed two increasingly destructive trends. First, an undermining of the authority and relevance of Scripture to all of life. Pulpits that used to proclaim God's powerful Word and confront sin in individual lives and in the life of our nation are now rare (Proverbs 14:34). Too often, churches seek membership and programs over a passion to articulate the gospel and God's truth to the darkness around us. Add economic prosperity and widespread church liberalization to the mix, and zeal to confront spiritual warfare becomes an option instead of a mission.
The second trend involves haters of righteousness using the tool of government to attack our values. Within one generation the name of Christ has been removed from public assemblies, abortion is openly promoted, homosexuality is normalized and mainstreamed, public schools are social experiments in values-free indoctrination, parental authority is denigrated, godly preaching is called "hate speech" and on and on. Movies, TV, contemporary music and the mainstream media routinely portray Christians as ignorant, intolerant and at times equivalent to radicalized Islam. This manipulation of public sentiment helps fuel an unrestrained government to both silence our influence and promote evil (Isaiah 5:20).
The current president and administration is only symptomatic of the decay that has metastasized in our nation. Can we reverse these trends? Not if prosperity is the measure of our political interest and chapel walls are the limits of our salt-and- light mandate in the world.
As Christians, we must regain our fervor to engage wickedness with the gospel and God's truth for the sake of those in bondage. We need spiritual leaders to not just equip us to live godly lives but also to train us to be godly neighbors, effective citizens and able challengers of wickedness (Ephesians 5:11).
This battle will continue until Christ returns, but until then we're to be His faithful witnesses in every legitimate endeavor—this includes politics and the public square.
If we won't stand for righteousness, who will? If not now, while we have the freedom to do so, our freedoms may rapidly disappear and with them the freedom to openly proclaim the glories of Christ and biblical truths to the darkness around us.
Kacer is executive director for the Christian Citizenship Council. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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