“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”
How do we address the growing discontent and division in our nation? What do we do to stem the tide of moral confusion, chaos, and conflict? What action steps can we take to rebuild and strengthen our national culture? I believe the Christian community must make four commitments:
- Reformation of the Christian community.
The church needs to become a fully engaged disciple-making community. A true transformational community that equips the people of God to be the people that God calls us to be. Every church needs to ask itself: How are we equipping Christ followers with the skills they need to be effective in their jobs Monday through Friday? How are we equipping Christ followers to be salt and light in every dimension of their lives?
Spiritual stagnation happens when people are satisfied with simply being saved. When people mistakenly think that salvation is the goal of the Christian life, when in fact it’s simply the beginning of the great journey. When they are grateful for the forgiveness of sin, but then seek comfort and convenience. When they want what Jesus does for them, but aren’t nearly as interested in what Jesus is trying to do in them and through them. When they want the blessings of grace but not the disciplines of grace.
The church in America in all its diverse and various forms has lacked wisdom in the way it has engaged modern (and now postmodern) society. We must create culture that reflects the reality of the Creator. We must be fully engaged in the culture-shaping institutions of our society: business, the arts, education, science, healthcare, athletics, government, media. That requires the church to become a true disciple-making community that equips all Christians to grow in character, connection, and competence.
- Rediscovery of Truth.
Our nation needs to return to a foundation of timeless Truth. We desperately need a foundation of Truth that is grounded in respect for the Creator and the standards he has inscribed on the universe and on human hearts. We are not simply in a fight for ordered liberty …we are in a fight for reality! In our radically pluralistic and relativistic society, it seems a nearly impossible task to redirect the culture back to the core principles of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but that is precisely what must happen. Without such a rediscovery of and recommitment to Truth, there is little hope for a revival or restoration of any significance.
“For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God. Who formed the earth and made it; he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited. ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right.” (Isaiah 45.18-19)
There are uncomfortable political and social truths that Republicans ignore, and there are uncomfortable political and social truths that Democrats ignore. What we desperately need are wise and courageous leaders who will step up, reject popular narrative, cut through the self-interest and partisanship, and speak truth.
I fully understand the political difficulty. Leaders who reject the popular narrative (from either side) and who seek to speak truth will find it almost impossible to get elected. The American people are dominated by self-interest, and don’t seem to want truth. As a nation we have drifted into the condition that Paul warned about:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4.3-4)
We serve a great and mighty God, and our task is to diligently petition and ask for revival. Our task is to intercede in prayer, seek his wisdom, and do the work required in our time and place in history. Our task is to be agents and ambassadors of truth.
“But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 4.2-3)
- Redirection of the human spirit.
The great need in our country is repentance, renewal, and revival. It begins with each of us personally. In order for American society to operate effectively, we as citizens must embrace the personal habits and cultural conditions that have been at the heart of our country since its founding. Unfortunately, we are drifting away from those individual habits and community norms; as a result, our society is at risk.
We need a renewal of citizenship and leadership in every sector of American society. The human spirit in our nation needs to be redirected from selfish interest to personal responsibility. We need to teach and coach The R Factor (or something like it) throughout the nation. The R Factor is not the only skillset we need, but it is foundational.
- Renewal of the principles and structures of the Constitution. In order to build a free and productive society, the founders established rules of cooperation that had been developed through generations of human experience and collective reasoning. They focused on timeless principles and standards that promoted the betterment of both the individual and community. These rules of cooperation were described as “ordered liberty.”
For American society to move forward successfully into the future, we must remember the Creator. We need to get much better at developing responsible citizens, which is essential if we are to return to the ordered liberty of limited government guided by timeless truth. We need to once again embrace the core principles and personal habits that gave birth to our great nation, while at the same time acknowledging and learning from the mistakes of our nation’s past.
“When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue.” (Proverbs 28.2)
This proverb issues an ominous warning for our nation. “When a land transgresses” is a reference to a nation that rejects God and his standards, and it is an accurate description of America in our time. “Has many rulers” is a reference to the ideological and moral chaos that is the result of rejecting God and his standards.
Because America has abandoned the Judeo-Christian truths and traditions upon which the nation was founded, we now have “many rulers.” That is to say, there is no moral consensus in our country. There is no agreement on the foundational principles and standards that should guide policy decisions and public life.
Do we have elected leaders today who are people of understanding and knowledge? Do we have leadership in universities, media, and business who are guided by discernment and knowledge that is informed by God’s wisdom? Do we have church leaders guided by understanding and knowledge?
The answer to those questions becomes more clear every day. Our nation is on a very dangerous trajectory, and disaster awaits if we do not change course.
“By me kings reign, and rulers enact just laws; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly.” (Proverbs 8.15-16)