Phew! The debates are over. I’ve endured the Facebook posts and Tweets long enough. Now we have just 2 more weeks until we get a respite, albeit temporarily, from the battle royal which American politics has become. I learned last night that America has a special and privileged role of being the Hope of the Earth. A lot of pundits would disagree because of its declining global influence. This only reinforces international opinion that we are arrogant, overindulgent, and imperialistic. There are already American themes, most often propagated by politicians and leaders, that make my stomach turn when filtered through the Gospel.
“Our Way of Life”
This refers to America’s prosperity and the lifestyle its inhabitants enjoy, often at the expense of others. This has been the behavioral modality from our birth in the 1700’s until today, a dedication to the American Dream and American Exceptionalism. Domestic and foreign policies are based on preserving our nationalist ethos of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
We’ve become a country of prideful, self-involved, self-serving, selfish, soft, weak, comfort seeking citizens. We get apathetic and complacent in the midst of our abundance. In his 1955 book, “Protestant, Catholic, Jew” Will Herberg wrote, “The American Way of life is… individualistic, dynamic, pragmatic. It affirms the supreme value and dignity of the individual; it stresses incessant activity… is always to be striving to “get ahead”; it defines an ethic of self-reliance… judges by achievement: “deeds, not creeds” are what count. …is humanitarian, “forward-looking”, optimistic. Americans are easily the most generous and philanthropic people in the world, in terms of their ready an unstinting response to suffering anywhere on the globe… believes in progress, in self-improvement… idealistic…making money or achieving worldly success must be justified in “higher” terms, in terms of “service” or “stewardship” or “general welfare”… moralistic.”
However, most commentators fail to see the latter half of that in the last 50 years. Currently, less than 4/10 of 1% of our GNP goes to foreign aid. We comprise 4.5% world’s population but consume 40% of the world’s resources. The U.S. ranks 21 out of 22 in assisting underserved communities. Even in the American Church, verses like “…you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24) and “go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21) are too radical. Millions are donated annually but very little is used to minister to the underserved or communicate the Gospel. Most of it is spent on the comfort and pleasure of those who gave it. Based on annual church figures, 95% offerings are spent on domestic projects 4.5% on regular missions, and .5 % on frontier missions (areas where there is no indigenous church, missionaries, or it’s illegal to make disciples. There is a world starving for lack of physical and spiritual food. But yet millions are diverted from the Gospel to build monuments to human egos and for the comfort of spoiled American Christians.
“Greatest Nation in the World”
This was also the thought of Babylon, Persia, Assyria, Rome, England, Spain, Germany, etc. It is often based on wealth, the strength of its armies, the health and comfort of its people, and the size of its empires. The Bible warns us that prosperity doesn’t equal greatness or blessing and often is the precursor to judgment. Edward Gibbon’s work, “The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire” listed five reasons for Rome’s fall:
- The rapid increase of divorce & undermining the sanctity of the home.
- Higher taxes and spending money for free bread for the people.
- The mad craze for pleasure & sports.
- The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was from within; the decadence of the people.
- The decay of religion.
…sounds a little familiar…and a little scary….
But as American Christians, please, let’s stop blaming the secularists, the abortionists, the LGBT community, or our political enemies. The Church targets those groups for humanism, staining the soil with the blood of 50 million innocent babies, for immorality, for ungodly living, and ideologies that breed tolerance. As I see it, the Church is responsible for America’s success or downfall, not the government. We curse atheists for taking prayer out of the schools but we’ve taken prayer out of our churches. Less than 2% of Christians share their faith. Less than 30% tithe with any consistency. Obedience, righteousness, submission, humility, love, compassion, and America’s defense begins in God’s House. If we let our guard down, we let our nation and world down…we let God down. Contrary to the candidate’s statement, God is the only hope for the earth, and ready or not, the Church has got to respond in order to be conduits of his favor.
“If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering …but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how suddenly a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all of our glory in profound obscurity.” –Daniel Webster.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).