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Dave Speas, the pastor of Trinity Baptist in Poway where I am the part-time interim music worship leader, shared a powerful story just before July 4th. He read a letter to the editor in the newspaper stating that Christians must think God is pretty wimpy or else they simply do not have enough faith in God because they are always trying to change things through the government rather than through God. Dave started to get upset and then thought about how, sadly, that could be an indictment we followers of Christ need to pay heed to.

II Chron. 7:14 gives 3 conditions for healing the nation Israel. The 1st is, “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and PRAY . . .” The conditions DO NOT include electing the correct officials, passing the right laws, petitioning, or boycotting.

(Digression warning: Having just written this article, I received an inspiring newsletter from Pastor Charles Cutney of the FBC of N. Hollywood. His article called “My People” (not the government) on II Chron. 7:14 looked like he was rewriting the article I had just written. Thanks for the timely confirmation Pastor Charles!)

Now, having just mentioned the Old Testament admonition to pray, let me share a Biblical insight that I think will help the church today as it contemplates how to best serve God and our country. I just counted in my concordance and the word “nation(s)” is used over 500 times in the OT (NIV). However, in the New Testament the word is used only 32 times and often refers to reaching/discipling individual people from all the nations (all the world) with the Good News of Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19). Here is an important principle for today’s church and followers of Christ to realize: God was much more interested in dealing with nations (like His chosen people, Israel) in the OT than in the NT. His primary concern in the NT was with individual people. This is why Jesus did not try to reform or convert the corrupt and evil Roman Empire. He did not try to bring the nation Israel back to their former prominent status. He did come to bring another Kingdom which He said could not be seen. “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation . . . the Kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17:20-21).

So our primary goal is not to change the government or bring in a Christian America. The last time I read the Bible, it says to pray for God’s Kingdom to come, not any earthly kingdom. Our problem is, we all too often focus on what is seen and temporary rather than what is unseen and eternal (II Cor. 4:18). It is easy for us to root for “home team USA and want it to be better because that is where we live and what we see every day. (My apologies to those in other countries reading this. You can substitute your country. If you’re in England, well, you should have never taxed our tea!)

If the example of the sower and seed suggests that 1 in 4 people put their faith in Christ, then simple math tells us that the majority of people in America are not true followers of Jesus. Let’s say 1 in 4 people in your local chess club is a follower of Christ. Should the Christian try to change the rules of the chess club so no one can “smoke, cuss, chew, or go with girls who do? Should the greatest effort go into changing the rules so there is no stealing and cheating, or should more effort go into praying for and helping change the hearts of the members so they come to know Jesus personally? What is the highest priority? Jesus did not come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people live!

It should not surprise us if there is a law against sanctioned prayer in school because the majority of the people in this country are not true followers of Jesus Christ. However, that does not prevent followers of Christ from praying in school. Students can and do still pray in school, even those who are not Christian. Ask how many pray before they have a test (e.g., “God if You will please help me pass, I promise I will …”). We can’t legislate morality. By that I am not saying we shouldn’t have laws. They can make our country better and more civilized. But whether there is a law or not, individuals may still choose to steal or have an abortion. The change needs to come within a person’s heart. You can take a pig out of the mud and clean him up, but the first chance he has, he will go right back into the mud … it’s what a Geico pig does! If we spend most of our time and effort and energy on changing the behavior of people (legislating morality) it is in vain if the heart is not changed, which produces true Godly morality.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I regularly thank God that I was born in the USA. I have been in close to 30 countries and still choose to live in America. The NT does tell us to pray for our government leaders. I think the letter in the newspaper reminds us we often neglect our most powerful weapon … prayer! To quote an old Petra song, “Get on your knees and fight like a man! Our highest priority is to love and reach our neighbor, not to reform the nation. We have the privilege to be on a great co-mission with Christ to love and disciple people from all the nations. Jesus did not reform secular institutions to effect social and moral change. He did disciple 12 guys who turned the nation, yea verily, the world upside down. Heavenly Father, may Your Kingdom come, may Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!


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