As a husband, father, grandfather, and Christian, I am deeply concerned. I am quite certain in my recent commentaries and in every message I am sharing publically and in personal conversation, this concern is easily detected. I am not fearful. I am hopeful, but I am concerned.
The fact is I am brokenhearted over the direction our country has been going for many decades. I am also concerned that many professing believers seem content having church rather than being the church. It’s like they are actually holding church when they should be releasing the church to literally pierce the darkness and storm the gates of hell, setting captives free.
It is obvious people caught up in the systems of this world are living in visible bondage and defeat. Tragically we so often seem to see the same countenance revealing great heaviness on the expressions of those filling church buildings in religious settings just as we observe on the faces of those outside the church.
Those who claim to know God seem to have so little personal fellowship with Him and live in such tragic defeat. I know; I’ve been there! But I also know the truth. We don’t have to live there! If we will abide in Him and not merely discuss His Word, but do it, we will know the truth that sets us free. We will find first hand that He did in fact come to give us life and it is life abundantly. Do not misunderstand this to be an abundance of things. It is abundance of life, true liberty, and the actual discovery of joy and happiness.
We hear so often about the separation of church and state and it is then interpreted to mean neither is to influence the other. Be assured, the state will influence you, the affairs of your life, your children and generations beyond. The church is intended by God to greatly influence the affairs of state because we influence the people who serve and the people who elect them. Believers should select those who understand and support the importance of biblical, time-tested, historically-proven principles.
A great number, if not the majority, of those who claim to be Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, do not participate in the protection and preservation of the wonderful freedoms we have been blessed to enjoy. The average church attendee is uninformed, uninvolved, and, too often, totally disinterested. They excuse themselves oftentimes by saying with conviction, “I’m focusing on my family!”
If you will read the scriptures, God told his family — the family of faith — to focus on piercing the darkness and setting captives free while leading their families. Remember, it takes free people to free people. If you are being held back because you have believed a lie that you are not to affect the policies determining the future of your children, then you have bought in to the process of perpetuating the problem. God forgive us!
When I reference “common concerns,” I am not inviting people to support a person or political party, I am encouraging everyone to find the principles necessary to live free as a believer, an individual, and a citizen of a free nation — and in this day there are few free nations!
As I prayed about the harmony of church and state, I found it very clear that when God created human beings, He created them for fellowship as a family with God as their heavenly and personal Father. This family was to be the family of faith in God, not Pharaoh, not Egypt, not the world’s systems, and they were to never buy into the deception of the enemy and the defeat that will surely come.
Sadly, God’s own chosen people who were led out of Egyptian bondage to be led into the fruitfulness and fullness of the Promised Land did not live in this relationship. Time and again they forsook God. I encourage you to read in a single Psalm the tragic picture of this cycle of defeat. It is found in Psalm 78. Time and again, God called them to repentance, they returned to His presence and His blessings and the prosperity it brought, then back into arrogance and dependence upon the gods of this world, living into idolatry, and once again into bondage. This has been the cycle throughout not only the history of Israel and the Old Testament journey of God’s people, but throughout all of history. It is this cycle Jesus came to break! He came to die for the forgiveness of our sins, and paid the penalty for our sin, but also offers us the power to be free from the grasp of sin and satan. We don’t have to live in defeat.
But Jesus also made it clear that in order for us to live in freedom, He must leave and send another power – the Holy Spirit – to live in us to enable us to live in true freedom. As I prayed about our country and its uniqueness, God revealed to me that our Founders truly understood the meaning of freedom. They understood that the individual must remain free, not the subject of any earthly ruling power, in order to fully receive the benefits and prosperity freedom offers. This is why they so emphatically established what was to be a limited government, and they made it very clear that we were not to depend upon earthly kings or rulers, but the government was to be “of the people, by the people and for the people.” The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men who were known to be Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Episcopal, Quaker, Unitarian, and Roman Catholic. Two were considered Deists – Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. All of them signed on to the principles of freedom. For the first time in human history, a nation was established on a solid foundation consistent with principles found in the Bible.
Consider these quotes from the two whose Christianity is sometimes questioned. Benjamin Franklin said, “A free market is the means under God of establishing the freedom of our country entire, and of handing it down complete to posterity.” He also added, “There cannot be a stronger natural right than that of man’s making the best profit he can.”
Thomas Jefferson said, “The pillars of our prosperity are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.” He added this powerful statement, “To take from one because it is thought that his own productivity has acquired too much, in order to give it to others who have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association: the guarantee to everyone of a free exercise of his hard work and the profits acquired by it.”
In response to being often mistaken as a Deist or Atheist, when speaking of Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament, Jefferson said, “A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” The founders’ doctrinal differences are not the primary issue. The fact is they all knew a solid foundation when they saw it.
Presently some leaders in our country and much of the major media have created a dangerous hostility toward certain groups, including those who make a profit and provide opportunity for others. Every one of our founders, with all of their distinctions and diversity, clearly understood that this nation was, in fact, established under God — not as a Christian nation, but as a nation whose founders clearly understood the basic principles necessary for free people to remain free.
Strong forces of influence in our country are continually leading us away from trusting in the God we refer to on our currency and in the pledge of allegiance. Even so, an appeals court in California ruled this week that it was right to leave “under God” in the pledge and “In God We Trust” on our currency. Yet the real issue is not whether it’s on our currency or in our pledge. The real issue is whether we actually trust God and keep our lives and our nation under God so we will continue to experience the blessings of God.
Now with that said, as Christians, we are to always pray for those in need and sincerely try to find the best ways to meet their needs and help them find a better future. I am convinced the best solutions will come from the church and the private sector. They will not come, however, if all of us in the church and if those who have been blessed with prosperity because of our freedom do not together focus on how to best meet those needs. We can’t leave it up to political power brokers and those who manipulate people to secure or maintain their place and their position.
I encourage believers and the business community to become more focused and more involved. We should not only want to help those in Third World countries; we also need to help those around us. This should be a common concern for all Christians, as well as others who care. I am diligently working to find all the possible ways in which we can alleviate suffering and create opportunities here at home. The sense of entitlement and a learned, trained dependence on social programs is not going to improve those trapped by poverty. It is going to take compassionate people getting involved. Surely Christians can all begin to pray fervently about how we can meet this need.
The church must become more concerned about the moral decadence in our country. The forces of evil preying on our children should be an object of prayerful focus. The fact that nearly 50 million unborn babies have been aborted since Roe vs. Wade should break our hearts. It’s a bad court ruling, but the real tragedy is that many people do not value life – including the life of the innocent unborn in the womb. Remember, the person writing this article would not be here had a doctor accommodated the desperate wishes of a 40-year-old woman who asked him to abort the baby she didn’t think she could care for. In conviction, he refused and in October 1943, I was allowed to be born. My mother never doubted the wisdom of that decision. In today’s world it is likely I would not have been given a chance at life. The doctor she approached believed life was precious however difficult the circumstances and however great the challenges. Without his decision, the children God graced us with, along with our grandchildren, would have been refused the most precious possible gift – life itself. We must also wonder about the millions who have accepted Christ through our ministry, and the millions whose lives have been saved by the outreaches of LIFE.
Surely these are a few of the common concerns we as believers should share and address in personal and united prayer. In future messages and articles I will be sharing other concerns I believe we have in common and about which we should pray.
James is now conducting regular web conferences to address “America at a Crossroads.” Be sure you are receiving his weekly columns in order to be notified of future dates and find out how you can be involved.