It’s Us, Not Them
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Every human society will experience differences of opinion and disapproval of other people’s actions. Unfortunately, that’s very natural. It’s also very natural for us to view those who think differently than we do as the cause of our societal problems. Most Christians seem to share this view; that it’s all those non-Christians who are the problem. I suggest as a Christian, however, that the fundamental problem is with Us, not Them.
Though we don’t live under the ancient covenant God made with Israel, we can learn some general principles from it that might apply to us today. Many Christian leaders very appropriately have focused our attention on Second 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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Under that covenant, God explained the Israelites’ obedience would bring them many blessings, but their disobedience would bring a wide range of problems on them individually and on their nation — weather, financial and military problems, among others. (Lev 26:14-26; Deut 28:15-68)
As Christians, we live under the new covenant, which is characterized by grace and not the Law of the Old Testament, so those lists of problems don’t apply to us directly. However, our covenant, the New Testament, also indicates that the condition of our society is at least partly dependent upon us.
It urges us to offer prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for everyone, including government leaders and authorities, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Tim 2:1-2) If we honor God, things will go better for us. We may still experience persecution and troubles because we live in a fallen world, but Jesus overcame the world and so can we. (Mt 5:10, 11, 44; Jn 16:33; 1 Jn 5:4; et al) We can conclude, then, that our faithfulness influences the condition of our society.
I contend that if we American Christians for the last 100 years had been doing what we should, our nation wouldn’t be facing most of the problems that threaten us today. Most of our society’s moral, ethical, economic, political and legal problems are symptoms of spiritual apathy; not among sinners, but within the church. The fundamental problem in our nation is Us, not Them, and it’s time for us to acknowledge we deserve much of the blame.
The single biggest problem we have as a nation today isn’t politics, the economy, racism, abortion, violence in entertainment or any other social issue. America is in trouble primarily because most American Christians don’t know or care what the Bible says and, as a result, have failed to do what it says. We think we can live like the world and enjoy the benefits of God’s kingdom. We want the best of both worlds, as if the world’s best were worth having. In reality, most of us think and act just like the world; we simply do something different on Sunday mornings and blame others for our problems. As a result, the American church at large is lukewarm, a mixture of true Christianity and worldliness, which is repulsive to God. (Rev 3:15-16)
Frankly, if I were a sinner looking at the church community, I wouldn’t be interested in what the church at large has to offer. We’re no better than the world and seem to have nothing of value to offer, other than a promise of life after death. Since most sinners don’t believe in life after death, that promise is meaningless to them.
As a believer, I’m distressed by the indifference and lack of power in most Christians, including myself. I’m deeply disturbed when we blame our national and cultural problems on the ungodly, while ignoring the influence and responsibility we have. We desperately need another Great Awakening, but that is unlikely to happen until we accept the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, conform our minds to what it says and then do what it says. We can’t expect God to transform our nation if we Christians are unwilling to transform ourselves and obey him.
Please join me in prayer, not just for our nation, but primarily for the American church. There is hope for our nation — there always is when God’s involved — but the change must begin with us. Let’s humble ourselves before God and ask him to help us discard our worldly attitudes and ways of thinking, then show us how to be salt and light in our world.
It’s easy for us American Christians to blame others for the many problems that threaten our nation, but most of those problems are merely symptoms. We must identify and address the fundamental problem.