America is not a nation defined by ethnicity. America is a melting pot of immigrants, and immigration has always been our strength.
We are a nation that is defined by an idea, a principle, because we have come from all the nations of the world—not a particular ethnicity or ideology—but there's been an "idea" that caused America to be great, and it is grounded and rooted in the principles of God. Our legal system, our educational system and our cultural values have all been derived from Scripture, and we have prospered uniquely.
Our people have come here from all the nations in the world, and typically we've come because we weren't succeeding where we were. We've come here destitute, with hope in our hearts, and God has poured out His blessings upon us.
So, if God has blessed America, and I believe He has, do we imagine that we will continue to enjoy liberty and freedom and abundance and blessings if we continue to turn our backs on God? I don't expect people outside the church to embrace that idea, but inside the church, we have an assignment.
We're the conscience of the culture. We are the voice for truth. We have to be willing to be distinctive, not because of our bizarre behavior, but because of the values that we hold. Israel is a powerful reminder of that. God can enable us to flourish in the midst of tremendous adversity and hatred if we will choose Him, but if we turn our backs on Him, we will forfeit our liberty.
We've played church too long. We've convened religious gatherings and held polite little Bible studies, and we have worked on the subtleties of our theological constructs and frameworks. But we've had no imagination that there was really any authority in what we have done. We have acted as if the authority were in all the other realms of our lives.
I'm not arguing it's the only authority. I'm simply arguing that it is the ultimate authority. It's unfortunate if we, the church, who are entrusted with the ultimate authority of an Almighty God, are more cognizant of the other expressions of authority that are available to the secular culture than we are to the authority that has been invested in us.
The question I've been thinking about lately is "What would God say to America?" I don't think He would say, "Do more of what you're doing." It seems to me we have turned our back on much of our heritage—the values that have shaped us and brought strength, abundance, prosperity and liberty. And I am not pointing at anybody else.
The church is responsible for being the conscience of the culture. We are to be salt and light. Therefore, if darkness is gaining in intensity, it's because the light has been diminished. So, I think the responsibility begins with us
We have been casual. We have given our hearts to idolatry—not to images carved of stone and wood or cast from metal, but we have given first priority in our lives to something other than the things of God. We've given God a casual nod. We have wanted to be included generally in the group of people that identify themselves to be Christians, but we really haven't given God first place. We haven't given Him our best thoughts and our best effort.
So how do we change? I suggest two steps: pray and choose.
First, pray that God would bless America. Your life makes a difference. Your prayers make a difference. The existence of the church makes a difference. The ideas around which America has been organized and flourished and prospered, has made a difference in our world.
I know it's not popular to say. I know you'll get more ink and more attention in the media if you'll be negative about America and talk about our weaknesses and our failures. We are a nation of people, and people come broken. In any broad collection of people, it won't be impossible or even difficult to find weaknesses and failures of character, choices, and behavior.
Nevertheless, the idea and principles around which America has been organized are unique in the earth and have brought about a unique result. We should be grateful and celebratory of them and spend ourselves preserving them for the generation that follows us. If we set aside God's ideas about family, morality, behavior, integrity, and truth, we will not flourish.
Second, we must make a choice. In the plainest of language, you and I have to desire a godly influence in our lives. We need to have a desire for godly leaders, or we will never experience the life and blessings God desires to give us. It's not enough to want godliness in some distant place, like Pennsylvania Avenue or the halls of Congress. We have to choose godliness in the context of our homes and our family systems.
It's inconsistent to want leaders at the highest levels of the land to work for righteousness when we're not willing to stand for it in our sphere of influence. If we tolerate idolatry, immorality and ungodliness, and excuse it with a wink and a nod because it's inconvenient to do anything else, why should we imagine others would sacrifice themselves to stand for those principles in a broader way? We have to choose.
I would like to extend an invitation for everyone reading this to join me in fasting and praying every Tuesday between now and the election, including Election Day, Nov. 5. Join me in praying for our nation, for God's will in the election and for we as the people of God to be fulfilling our responsibility to be salt and light and to return God to first place in our lives. Then and only then can we have hope for the future of our nation.
Allen Jackson is senior pastor of World Outreach Church, a congregation of 15,000, and founder of Allen Jackson Ministries, though which his biblical messages have been broadcast nationally and internationally on multiple platforms. His latest book, God Bless America Again, from which this was adapted, released Oct. 1.
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