“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” We know these famous words from John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address given in 1961.
When a nation has lost trust in its governing body, and when corruption, self-interest, and economic concerns bear down on an overwrought citizenry, it is easy to cast all the responsibility to course correct forward onto a new leader. When we think all of our nation’s troubles are the result of a misguided President, it is natural to think that a different person, a more right person, can be our knight in shining armor.
What we are witnessing is the convergence, the maturation of the choices throughout decades of American history. What we feel to be the sudden conspiratorial success of secret hidden agendas, is merely the culmination of the natural progress, or rather regress, of civic, governmental, and religious worldviews.
The church has long abdicated its role in shaping culture because it has focused almost entirely on an evangelism that begins and ends with salvation. The view predominately shared by many Christians of being in the world is to speak up against the world for behaving so worldly. We see ourselves as the parental force or moral police that ought to keep culture in line with God’s ways. We fear God’s judgment when the world is too worldly.
Our abdication did not come in the form of lack of standing up for truth. We did not fail in being God’s reinforcements for moral living. He never called us into such an action. Our failure lies in our retreat from being salt and light in the world.
Instead of Christian movie producers making Christian movies, we can have creative producers in the real world who are known among the greats like J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson, and Steven Spielberg. There is no barrier to Christians being in lead positions in every institution in America. The only barrier is our own worldview. Our way of thinking keeps us trapped, and we blame the secular culture for putting us in the box where we placed ourselves.
We created the vacuum of believers in the judicial system, in the political system, in health care, in education, in the arts. We are called to be in the world without being of it, but we prefer to be in a poor imitation of it.
Meanwhile the world went on without us. Many ideas, principles, values, processes, and ways of looking at the world that were developed from Christian tradition continued unabated in some form or fashion. Others were discarded. While others were borrowed from other cultures, or reinvented according to modern sentiments. These have matured into what many feel are great successes of our era. While Christians protest, the world rejoices without understanding our dismay.
The world has become as foreign to Christians as Christians are to the world, and yet we have adopted a great many values and practices from the world and are none the wiser. Our families look like the world’s families. Some of our churches and ministries are built on the world’s models for successful businesses. We enter the political fray the world’s way, shouting, condemning, demonizing, and despising all who do not think in a way we believe is best for America. Our attempts at Christian media are as hype-filled and dishonest as the world’s media, albeit proclaiming a different subject matter.
We have forgotten that Jesus came because His Father so loved the world that He sent his Son not to condemn the world, but to die for it. If we want the world to listen to us, we need to lay down our lives for them. We do this by turning the other cheek. We are to speak kind words about those who speak foul words about us. We are to bless and not curse. We are to love and not hate. We are to serve and not seek to be served.
Kennedy once called on our nation to be more concerned what we can do for it, than what it can do for us. What can we do for our nation?
- Our words can stretch the great divide and heal our nation’s wounds.
- Our prayers can bless America.
- Our time spent lambasting politicians, can be spent praying that God blesses them with wisdom. (We can then speak that blessing over their lives)
- We can love our neighbors.
- We can bless and serve those trapped in darkness. Jesus did not come to condemn sinners, but to set them free.
- We can look for one area of need in our community and pray for solutions for that need.
- We can venture out into the world, making friends with people who are not in our social circle without the agenda of having them say a sinner’s prayer.
- We can seek to give a voice to those who think differently than us. We do this by seeking to understand what they are saying by being able to say it in way they feel has fairly represented what they care about.
- If we want to be heard, we have to be the first to hear and to do so without expecting anything in return.
- We can serve our nation by preparing ourselves to bless and not curse our next President while practicing not cursing our current President.
- We can study history and learn about all the generations gone before. Sometimes we think our own era the most volatile and corrupt until we read history and find true perspective.
- We can sift the news we ingest and make sure it comes from solid thinkers and not people simply trying to get your click on their article so that you generate their ad revenue.
- Promote the peace of the Lord. If we are riled up, anything we say will be laced with that angst and we sow it into others as they take in our words and join our dissatisfaction. The mouth speaks what is in the heart. If our heart is full of the Lord’s peace and goodness we will manifest the same when we speak or write.
These suggestions are simple, but not easy. They are suggestions that each of us is capable of practicing. We can become more specific to our life’s calling and how doing what God called each of us to do serves the nation, but let us start with what we can all do now no matter our calling or position in life. Whether house wife, soldier, statesmen, pastor, mechanic, or office worker, each of us has a responsibility to be outwardly what we profess to be inwardly.
Back to the Future: Rebuilding America’s Stability
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