Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord– Acts 3:19 NIV
America is in decline.
Once trusted institutions are now looked at with scorn, cynicism and even fear. Many politicians have become corrupt, narcissistic and self-serving. The economy is in crisis. Inflation is raging. Crime and violence are becoming disturbingly routine events. Personal freedom is often a cover for evil and selfishness. Government has responded by restricting and regulating personal freedom at every turn. The military is weakened. A once robust educational system is collapsing. Families are broken. Children are confused about who and what they are. Drug use is endemic. Men and women are literally fighting for the right to kill their own children. Truth tellers are despised. These ugly, irrefutable, painful realities clearly point to a state of growing decline.
What the heck? How on earth did the freest, richest and overall greatest nation (in my humble opinion) on earth transform into such a raging dumpster-fire so quickly?
As tempting as it is we cannot in good conscience lay the blame for the chaos entirely at the feet of our increasingly inept and morally bankrupt political leaders. In a democracy decline is never entirely the fault of the people in charge, voters get what they accept and vote for. Additionally, from a biblical standpoint bad leaders are always an indicator of judgment and are therefore just a symptom of a greater problem.
Sin is the problem.
Sin is always the ultimate cause of moral and spiritual decline (Romans 1:18-32). If an individual, family or nation is deteriorating or declining you can bet sin is at the root of the issue. Anytime anyone turns away from God and starts to do their own thing they separate themselves from God and the moral code faith in God brings with it. Eventually, the whole memory of that moral code fades and the person, family or culture is left with the ethical equivalent of a raging dumpster fire. What we’re looking at in the world today is what you get when people turn away from God, reject His moral code and choose to do their own thing.
Our situation will not be improving anytime soon. The decline America is experiencing will continue until we have a massive revival that fundamentally changes our trajectory or the eventual end of America as we know it. Obviously, we are all rooting for a revival. Here is what we need to do to get it:
Stand up the right way-
Christians are frequently told everything will improve when they “stand up” and “fight” for what’s right. The problem is that no one can really explain what that means or how to do it in a way that brings God glory and facilitates change in the culture. Do we lead an insurrection? Do we focus on the political realm? What exactly does standing up for our faith look like in 2022? I believe this is where we can take a page from the early churches’ handbook. The early church didn’t take a political or even a moral stand against the Roman government. They didn’t rally or rage against anyone or anything— no matter how wicked or evil that somebody or something was. As a powerless minority rallying and raging would have done little good, it might have even gotten them killed. Instead they simply refused to conform to the culture around them (Romans 2:12). They lived such good, right and moral lives within their culture that they slowly won the culture over to their way of thinking, believing and behaving (1st Peter 2:12). We must seek to do the same.
Have a realistic perspective on the limits and potential of politics-
Politics are important in a democracy and we have to remember that living in a democracy is a gift from God. Nevertheless, it is critical Christians understand all political leaders (including conservatives) are flawed and cannot be depended on to bring about ethical change. Every Christian living in a democracy or a constitutional republic is biblically obligated to do their part for the country they live in. That includes praying fervently for political leaders, choosing to vote only for the best and most principled candidate available. Doing our part means being a good citizen who follows all laws that do not contradict God or His laws. We must do our best to improve the political realm but politics should never take the place of God in our lives. Nor can we depend on human leaders to bring righteousness, justice or peace to our land. Only God can bring healing to our world.
Take spiritual risks-
This is not the time to sit back and hope good wins out in the end. This cultural moment requires Christians be spiritually proactive. We become proactive by sharing our faith boldly, loving the lost boldly and doing what’s right in God’s eyes no matter the cost to us personally.
Our job as followers of Jesus is not to demand our rights or spend our time cursing the darkness (1st Corinthians 4:12) . Our job is to be Jesus to our world. We must seek to represent Him well in our homes, churches and communities.