Sunday, June 28, 2015

One nation under God. Can we claim to be a Christian nation today?

The Supreme Court decision this past week only clarifies the unfortunate fact that we cannot any longer be called a Christian nation. It is the logical outcome of many seismic shifts that we have seen in our nation since at least the 1960's which brought with it the abandonment of authority and at least a modicum of a Christian world view.

Do you remember John Lennon's song Imagine? A beautiful ballad but have you listened carefully to what he said?


Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...
Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one


What John Lennon imagined has largely come true. We are living for ourselves and have cast off Biblical truth. The results perhaps were not, however what he might have imagined imagined.

The Supreme Court decision in 1973 in Roe V. Wade led to the diminished view of what it means to be people made in God's image leaving 55,772,015 image bearers to die in the womb. Now with the redefinition of marriage - the first Creation Ordinance God gave mankind - the logical outcome of the journey our nation has been on away from God has taken its next step.

This is not simply a reflection of a Supreme Court that has redefined liberties and in this case the fundamental backbone of any healthy society - the family. Rather we must admit that it is reflection of a society moving away from God and of Christians who have often not upheld the truth of the Gospel. 

Indeed, the mainline denominations have been losing people for a long time because the Gospel is no longer preached or believed, except in a very general "feel good" sense. It is also true that materialism has hijacked the Christian commitment of many who call themselves believers, the concept of any absolute truth is not understood even by many who call themselves "evangelicals" and the legalism of many churches on the other side has led to its own bondage rather than the freedom of the Gospel.

It is easy for believers to point fingers at whoever is in the White House, Congress or Supreme court. But perhaps the real issue is that we the church have not been living out the Gospel in our own lives and bringing those same commitments of truth and grace into our neighborhoods, workplaces and circles of influence. In essence we have not produced disciples of Jesus who follow Him relentlessly and the lack of disciplemaking may even point to a lack of disciples in church leadership in many cases. 

Basic theology is neither widely understood or believed in many "Christian" circles. Just get into a discussion on whether Jesus is the only way to God and salvation and more often than not one will hear that He is one way but not the only way. Individual "believers" have found it easy to ignore those things in Scripture that are not convenient. The inerrancy of the Scripture as the ground of truth has seriously eroded leaving many in the churches that call themselves evangelical to choose which truth is applicable to their own lives and which they can ignore. 

Many of those who are the most vocal critics of the changes taking place in our society ignore the fact that it may be those of us who call ourselves believers who share much of the responsibility. It is easy to point at the sin of others and far less comfortable to evaluate ourselves. When we as the church are not truly salt and light, do not stand for truth (with the graciousness of Jesus) and do not live that truth ourselves, we share in the responsibility for where our society moves. Culture wars have been fought for decades with often vociferous voices that do not reflect the grace of Jesus while we have ignored the inconsistency in our own lives. Perhaps we should have fought fewer culture wars and instead focused on living like Jesus and being Jesus to others.

My conclusion is that we are not a Christian nation and have not been so for a long time. In fact, while we were founded on Christian principles, no nation is a Christian nation. 

But for me that is not a cause of depression. Daniel thrived in Babylon along with his believing compatriots. Esther thrived in a pagan court. Abraham thrived among those countries around him who were totally pagan. The heroes of Hebrews 11 thrived even under difficult and even fatal conditions. Those who follow Jesus relentlessly make an impact on those around them as they live out the Gospel in all of its implications. I often say "It matters more who is in my house (Jesus) than who is in the White House. The challenge for Christ followers is actually to follow Him with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as our-self (The Great Commandment). That makes the difference no matter where the society around us is headed.

I want to be a fully devoted Christ follower in what I perceive to be a nation moving further from God. As that happens the difference between those who relentlessly follow Him and the rest of society will become more evident. We will stand out and do stand out when we ask the question Francis Schaeffer did in How Shall we Then Live?

Want to be encouraged? Listen to Larry Osborn's message Thriving in Babylon and then get his book by the same name. It is where we are so lets figure out how to look and live like Jesus in a Godless culture. And thrive as His people.

Posted from Oakdale, MN

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.

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