"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. - Matthew 5: 14-16 (ESV)
We hear it all the time in church circles. We see it every day posted on Facebook and Twitter from well intended Christians. America needs to repent. America needs God. The usual Christianism that follows involves some generic call to prayer so we can all feel we have done our Christian duty and move on to the next display of public pseudo-piety we have to offer. Churches across this land routinely gather in prayer for the country. The usual exhortations that follow display more of our political biases than a firm understanding of God's word. There are some truths that we continue to miss as Christians and as the church. America is not under covenant with God and never has been. This country was founded by a mixture of people, mostly Deists, not Biblical Christians. This country has a long a bloody history of not behaving as if they were a "Christian" nation. Is it still the greatest hope for freedom in the world? Yes but that is a secular hope beloved. Has it been a source of global good amidst the incidences of global bad? Sure but those are secular issues. Christians need to remember where our true citizenship is:
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. - Philippians 3: 20-21 (ESV)
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. - 1Peter 2: 11-12 (ESV)
We are supposed to be sojourners and pilgrims in this world - and in this country! We are supposed to live as citizens of heaven! My emotions range from amusement to sadness when I see Christians post vile untruths about their most hated politician and think they are somehow doing the Lord's work in doing so. The Bible says that it is God who selects all the leaders of earth - God. Our job is not to turn America into a theocracy. Our job is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a fallen world so that some might be saved before Jesus comes again. Ultimately when you sift through the moral decay and the decline of America from prominence there is only one place to look to cast blame - the church. Nineteenth Century revivalist Charles Finney once said:
"If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discernment, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it."
Oh beloved - Finney was so right. If you want to know why we are in the state we are, we need look no further than a mirror. The key verses are our continuing look at Jesus and His Sermon on the Mount. We are supposed to be the light of this world because we have Jesus inside of us. Yet what does the world see when they cast their gaze upon the church? Do they see money grubbing televangelists that we all nod and wink at because we like their "encouraging" words? Do they see preachers with five private planes and 6 million dollar mansions preaching to the poor about sacrifice? Just this week it was reported that Creflo Dollar, who has a net worth in excess of 27 million dollars is asking the poor people of his church to fund the cost of a new 65 million dollar luxury plane. Do they see charlatans cheapening the grace of God as a license to sin? Do they see the brash wave of young gun pastors who have made their churches so relevant and hip the lost world cannot tell the difference between what is supposed to be holy and the sin that currently has them captive? Do they attend churches that never challenge their need to repent? My fear is far too many see nothing different when they cast their eyes upon the Church of Jesus Christ. My fear is they do not see the shining city on a hill. Instead they see the same present darkness that surrounds their lives.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! - Matthew 6: 22-23 (ESV)