Religion, influence and our hearts
By Ed Boschman
While they may use different words, friends and casual acquaintances increasingly voice the same question: What is wrong with our country? The question comes up most often when the discussion is about the general “health” of our nation in terms of sociology, politics, economics, crime and education. It is usually accompanied by an aura of serious concern and sometimes despair or even fear.
People often cite our educational and political systems as the core problems. Sometimes the failures and breakdown of the family make the discussion. While all of these can be logically supported as contributing factors, my mind most often goes in other directions—to the drift from God, the Bible and theology at the center of thinking and learning to the political incorrectness of bringing God into consideration. To the severe decline of clearly defined rights and wrongs and living and teaching what is right. And most importantly, to the state of the individual moral health of people in our country.
Our country’s history is interesting in this regard. “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion,” said George Washington, our first president. “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
John Quincy Adams, our sixth president and considered by some to be the eminent diplomat, said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."
Gallup pollsters have been following this subject for quite some time. Recently they asked the question again: At the present time, do you think religion as a whole is increasing its influence on American life or losing its influence? Gallup reports a record high 77 percent of us believe that the United States is in a dangerous moral decline. However, Gallup polls also indicate that 75 percent believe that the church is needed to reverse the trend.
This takes us back to the original question: What is wrong with our country? Might it be that our general population has unhooked from the moral foundations that give religion its influence and traded moral absolutes for relativity? That 91 percent of our people do not name God as the most important reality in their lives? Might it be that Christian believers and churches have gone off mission by trading following Jesus for religion?
What troubles our nation is in part systemic in our structures and institutions. No country’s organization is without flaws. But our real problems are matters of the heart. The state of moral health in our country will not improve unless hearts change. And only God can change a heart.
The church is the people of God. While it is true that Jesus’ church has a global mandate, we are to be on mission in our towns, cities, counties, states and nation. The last time the God factor got a boost was after 9-11. Only God knows when he will declare the end of the church age, and until God does, every season is another occasion for us to rise to the opportunity for spiritual influence. Will we be on mission? Will we choose intentional influence for God? Will we invite people into a heart-changing, faith-follow relationship with Jesus?
This will happen only if we individually and corporately faithfully follow our Lord, obediently prioritize his disciple-making mandate and do whatever it takes and pay whatever the cost to make it happen. Let’s build that legacy!
Thu, August 1, 2013
by CL Staff