With severe governmental restraints, "woke" corporations influencing children, prices skyrocketing and leaders who can't define the word "woman," we can easily become discouraged as "the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land" (Ps. 12:8, NLT).
Many are being crushed by the external pressures of life because their strength on the inside is weaker than the pressure on the outside. But there is hope.
1. Ask yourself the hard question. To begin this journey of making a difference, we must look in the mirror and ask a hard question: "Is my spiritual apathy affecting the dire situations going on in our nation?" And more importantly, "Could changing my spiritual course make a positive difference?"
We are waiting on God, but could it be that God is waiting on us? As I've said before, Costco carts are full, but prayer closets are empty―stock options plummet, yet hearts are not breaking. We are angry but not desperate, mad but not humble, and enraged but not broken.
What will it take to break us? There is famine on the horizon, but very few are hungry for God. The red, white and blue cannot save us; only the crimson blood of Christ can: "Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity" (Joel 2:13, NIV).
2. Seek the Lord like never before. As I wrote in my article "Shootings, Sin, Suffering: What Can Turn America Around?": "America's decadence and depravity—from mass shootings and extreme violence to sexual abuse and perversion—is a direct result of rejecting God."
If drifting from God caused many problems, only returning to Him can fix them. Therefore, the next step to truly making a difference is to fully surrender your life: "The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you" (2 Chron. 15:2).
To seek in this context means to "find what is missing." Have you lost your passion for God? It's time to find it again. Imagine losing your child at a large event. Your entire heart would be engaged. How would you spend your time? Where would your energy be concentrated?
Have you ever sought the Lord in this way? Are you seeking Him this way now? This is a key step to truly making a difference, and it cannot be overlooked.
3. Repent of prayerlessness. Most churches are boring and powerless because the power of God has vanished from many congregations. Like Samson, they "know not that the Spirit of the Lord has departed" (cf. Judg. 16:20). Therefore, the next step to making a difference is to prioritize everything around Christ-centered prayer and heartfelt worship.
The call of God is not on Hollywood or Washington, D.C., but on His people: "If My people seek, pray, and turn from their sin ..." (cf. 2 Chron. 7:14).
Is prayer an afterthought or a priority in your life? Sadly, nights of prayer and worship are often replaced with Netflix binges.
On Sunday, we're in a hurry to burn through a sermon, scurry through worship and head to the nearest restaurant. Many people can't make a difference because they're not connected to the only source of spiritual life—the one true and living God. In the words of E.M. Bounds, "When faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live."
4. We must call the nation to repentance. Despite all this, be encouraged: God often shakes the physical to get us to respond in the spiritual. Are you being shaken today? Is our nation being shaken? It's very healthy to mourn and repent (as long as we don't stay in that state).
Some of the by-products of repentance are joy and peace. This is exactly what we need today! When we feel the pain of a hot flame, we quickly remove our hand. In the same way, the spiritual and emotional pain in our nation can motivate us to return to God. The final step to truly making a difference is genuine repentance. Without repentance, our moral compass will stay off course.
Pastors, we must lead the way! The Bible calls pastors "watchmen" who cry out and sound the alarm to awaken a sleeping church, not to put her to sleep.
The prophet Isaiah didn't mince words about lazy watchmen; he said they are blind and ignorant and that they are all dumb dogs who cannot bark (cf. Isa. 56:10). Jim Garlow says, "Bold pastors may look like they are on the wrong side of history, but they are on the right side of eternity." We must call the nation to repentance.
God Can Still Use You
Many believe they've done too much damage and God can't use them. That's not true! You'd be amazed at what God can do with humility, brokenness and repentance. Like clay in the hands of a potter, these spiritual truths can reshape and renew your life as well as the spiritual condition of our nation. Get up and get back on track.
God often uses the least likely to impact our culture in very significant ways. Look in the mirror and own it. Seek Him like never before. Make prayer the all-consuming passion of your life, repent of spiritual apathy and watch what God will do. He is waiting for you more than you're waiting for Him!
Editorial note: None of these points are new. You can read more about each one in past articles at my website.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Leona Valley, California. He also began the Westside Christian Fellowship Radio Network—WCFRadio.org—in 2019. His sermons, books, articles and radio program have sparked change in many people's lives.
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Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California. More can be found at ShaneIdleman.com, and free downloads of his books are available at WCFAV.org. Visit him on Facebook and subscribe to his new podcast.
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