Have you noticed? There’s a spiritual battle going on right now for the allegiance of people’s heart, soul, and mind in our nation. Without telling you how to vote in this fall’s elections, I want to encourage you to consider seriously what it means to be an informed, active citizen as a Christian. Bob Russell, in a June 2020 blog, challenges readers to imagine that a godly couple unexpectedly inherits $10 million. How should they react? Their first response should be one of deep gratitude both to the benefactor and to God, the giver of every good gift. There should also be an overwhelming sense of responsibility to be wise stewards and not squander their fortune. Unearned wealth could spoil their kids or destroy their faith if unprepared, so they need to train their children to be sensible money managers. The Bible says, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
As I think about what is going on in our nation currently, the same stewardship principles apply to our country. We have inherited the invaluable gift of a constitutional republic from our forefathers—a unique government of the people, by the people, and for the people. This has produced the freest, most prosperous and opportunistic country in the history of the world. The precious liberty we enjoy cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers and patriots. Sadly, Americans today have been very poor stewards of that trust. Instead of being grateful, we take it for granted. Instead of taking the necessary effort to preserve it, we don’t even bother to be informed voters and citizens. Instead of training our children to appreciate God’s magnificent gift, we have allowed secular ideologies and anti-God influencers intent on dismissing the country’s value to brainwash us with propaganda about what a racist, materialistic, sexually oppressive, war-mongering nation we have been. As Russell puts it, we are frittering away our precious heritage like the prodigal son who squandered his wealth in wild living.
In Kingdoms in Conflict, Charles Colson wrote, “[Christians have] always had trouble with the concept of patriotism. They have vacillated between two extremes—the God-and-country, wrap-the-flag-around-the-cross mentality and the simply-passing-through mind-set.” Colson points out that since the Vietnam War, the “passing-through” mind-set has become more prevalent among followers of Christ. “[It] is represented by those who believe they are simply sojourners with loyalties only in the Kingdom beyond. Patriotism has become a dirty word to them.” Some contend that “we don’t want to be guilty of ‘nationalism’—worshipping our country rather than worshipping God.” But are Christians worshipping the nation by being patriotic? I content that they are not. It’s not idolatry to give God thanks for a special country and to work for its good any more than it is idolatry to give God thanks for your beloved mother on Mother’s Day. Granted, patriotism can be taken to the extreme, but so can multiculturalism.
Politics has encroached on religious matters in recent years and our silence about some of the issues surrenders precious spiritual territory. Consider the current political subjects that were originally biblical issues: intelligent design; the creation of men and women; family; the right to life; the sanctity of marriage; racial equality; the proper treatment of the poor, widows, orphans, and aliens; religious freedom; parental rights and responsibilities; criminal justice; sexual morality; and especially the source of truth. While churches withdraw from the public arena, godless policies, like a dangerous virus, invade spiritual territory and threaten the vitality of the church as well as human flourishing. If Christians don’t get involved in public issues soon, the precious gift of liberty and a flourishing life will be squandered and our grandchildren will not enjoy the religious freedoms we cavalierly take for granted.
In the mid-19th century, Lord Melbourne, the chief political adviser to Queen Victoria, was pro-slavery. He objected to William Wilberforce and other Christians who used spiritual arguments for the abolition of the slave trade. Melbourne argued, “Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade public life.” Courageous abolitionists didn’t remain silent because slavery was a political issue. As the salt of the earth, they made a huge difference in the political arena. So should we. A.W. Tozer wrote years ago, “A frightened world needs a fearless church.” It is time for God’s church to be assertively strong and courageous in full belief the Lord our God will go before us. We don’t have to be angry or obnoxious, but we do need to be informed and involved.
Something to think about…and act upon.