Thursday, November 3, 2016

Things that Won't Fix America

Like many Americans, I am grieved about where we are as a country. I think we have drifted pretty far from what the Founders intended for our great Nation and more concerning, I see some of the very freedoms we've enjoyed for so long being increasingly infringed upon. 

With that being said, I think it's helpful to remember that as a Believer, my first allegiance is not to a flag but to the King of kings. This is not to suggest that the two of necessity mutually exclude one another, but it is to emphasize that One must always take priority over the other. When we think about situations, and elections, and policies, and various movements in our culture, we must think as a Christian first. This doesn't always come naturally nor is it always easy to do unless we are intentional about it. 

I thank God that I am an American. I am the grandson of a USAF Colonel who fought countless missions in both Korea and Vietnam. I am grateful for his service to our country. I am grateful for the freedoms we enjoy and for the the principles on which this country was founded: All men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

But all of that, absolutely all of it, is subservient to my allegiance to King Jesus. This means I see all of what we have in America as a means to a greater end. Ultimately that end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This is not to say that the above Americanisms conflict with Christianity but that they fall underneath it in the sense that the ultimate purpose of our freedoms as Americans is to glorify God. 

Maybe we could put it like this: the freedoms we enjoy as Americans should be used to live for the glory of God. To make Christ known to our countrymen. To happily enjoy Christ's rule and reign in our lives as we see Him ever widening the borders of His Kingdom around us. America is not nor never has been a theocracy. But it has, in the providence of God, served as channel in which the gospel has impacted not just innumerable people here but also to the far reaches of the earth. 

One thing that is for sure is that no matter what happens to our country the Kingdom of God will continue to advance and the Church will endure. 

With that being said, it is my great hope that our country will endure for the glory of God. And I think that the way our country will endure (if it is to endure) will be through the change of hearts wrought through the heralding of the gospel. This doesn't mean we aren't concerned about culture, politics, the downcast, etc. In fact, I'd say we are even more concerned about those things because we are concerned about them rightly, through the lens of the gospel. 

So, we live, we vote, we stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves, and all the while we live for the glory of God which includes sharing the good news of the life, death, burial, resurrection, and reign of King Jesus. And our great hope for the Nation lies in that. Not that the gospel changes a 'Nation' but that it does change the individuals who comprise the Nation thus 'fixing' a Nation. 

I think this is necessary to work through because I've seen so many posts the last several months that seem to at the very least imply that our hope lies somewhere else. Like if we can just get this one thing or that one thing or these several things together then that will fix America. While I maintain these things (depending on what issue has you riled up!) may be important, I also maintain that the gospel is not dependent on any of them in order to thrive and bring about the change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit. 

In fact, sometimes God uses the very opposite of what we think is necessary in order to bring about the change we want to see. 

So, with all of that in mind let's survey some popular topics today, none of which are the 'key' to fixing our country. 

Here we go:

1. Trump being elected president

I do think it's morally permissible to vote for Donald Trump. But I've actually seen people say Believers are morally obligated to vote for Trump. What's more, I've actually seen posts and conversations that have basically said Donald Trump is the key to making our nation great again. 

Say what?

Look, I don't think voting for Clinton is a viable option.  But for Believers to tell other Believers it is their obligation to vote Trump rather than not voting or voting third party is not biblically defensible. Furthermore, to bolster this pressure by insinuating that the hope of our nation rests in Trump being elected president is actually not Christian thinking.

If Hillary is prevented from becoming president or if Trump does become president, neither of those scenarios fix the country. Nor do they put us on a better trajectory without heart change. 

2. People standing for the National Anthem

I think it's disrespectful not to stand for the National Anthem. I don't think it's a time for protest. I am grateful for those who've defended our country. 

But I've seen lots of conversations of people acting as if we could just create laws or boycotts or make enough noise about people standing during the National Anthem that will fix our country. 

Laws won't change hearts.

Should people stand for the anthem? Yes. If they all stood tomorrow are we a better country? I don't think so. The root of the problem is not fixed. 

3. Black, blue, red, yellow, white lives Matters campaigns

Not sure what to add here. I appreciate some of the awareness that has been brought about. But even if everyone tomorrow agreed with whichever campaign you're involved in, that actually doesn't fix our issues does it? 
4. Having conservative justices on the Supreme Court 

Do I think this is important? You bet. Do I bemoan what would happen with more liberal judges on the Supreme Court? Certainly. 

But there is a difference in supporting and hoping for these things and in idolizing them. If tomorrow all 9 justices on the Supreme Court were conservative, our country would still be in trouble. 

If we could strike down the Obergefell and Roe v. Wade decisions, two decisions that are an abomination to God and an unconstitutional overreach of the Court, it still wouldn't change the hearts of the people. 

5. Maintaining our Freedoms 

The right to preach. The right to bear arms. The right to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

These are all important. They are dear to our hearts. But even if those are not maintained in our country the end is not inevitable, for the church has endured, and even thrived in more hostile situations. 

My point in writing all of this is not to say that we shouldn't be involved in politics and policies. We definitely should be. We should vote Christian principles and seek to establish policies that are consistent with biblical teaching because it is when we align with Scripture that we will see an environment most conducive to true human flourishing. 

But in all of this Christ must have the preeminence. Take for example those who rightly hate abortion but wrongly take the route of physically attacking abortion doctors and workers. Is Christ honored through these sort of actions? No. And nor is He honored when Believers pin all of our hope on the outcome of an election, cultural movement, or policy change. It is good and right to use all of the influence we have to instill godly principles into our society. It is not right to do this through means of physical coercion. Nor is it right to act as though if an election, movement, or policy doesn't go the way we think it should that all hope is lost. Certainly not! King Jesus is on His throne. And He bows to no one. Not even human free will. He is ordering His universe by the word of His power. And all things will happen as He decrees. So, mankind is responsible for the choices we make, but ultimately Jesus wins. Therefore, as we strive for the advancement of the gospel together, our greatest hope lies in this truth. Even what feels like defeats here can and will be used by God for the glory of His great name and the good of His people. 

Again, don't sit back in your lawn chair and watch America burn. Be involved as you are able locally and regionally and even nationally to effect change. But let the driving motivation in what you do not merely be a 'better future' for your kids in terms of the American dream. No, let the driving force in all that you do be the glory of God and the hopes of seeing His glory furthered through the conversion sinners both here and abroad. 

Preach. Pray. Participate in the local church. Prioritize Scripture reading. And remember that the great problem of all Americans is not something outside them. It's not that they aren't educated enough or don't have the right opportunities in life. The greatest problem Americans have is a heart that rejects and rebels against the God who made them. And this won't be fixed by an external issue. It won't be fixed by a President. It won't be fixed by the Supreme Court. It will only be fixed by the gospel. And when professing Believers make these other things a priority over the gospel, even going so far as to be more passionate about voting than attending church, we actually become part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Ultimately, the gospel will not spread through policy but through people. We've got to share it. We've got to live out what Christ has worked in us. We've got to herald the news of the coming judgement but the free offer of pardon that exists now for all who repent and believe the gospel. 

No doubt part of living for Jesus is living for Him in all realms, including how we vote. But brothers and sisters, our great hope is not in the outcome our vote. It is in the One who casts the deciding Ballot. The King eternal. 

No doubt it's late at the time of this publication. So I do hope I've made sense! To God be the glory... 

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