Taking America Back For God

What ever happened to “In God We Trust?”
Prayer has been banned and taken from us.
When will we say, “Enough is enough!”
And get our country back to God?

We’ve got to get America back to God
We’ve got to rule the world with the staff and rod.
We’ve got to fight the Devil everywhere we trod
We’ve got to get America back to God.

These are words from the first verse and the chorus of a Christian song that’s been popular for quite some time now. They’re meant to rouse both the Christian and patriotic spirits at once. The call for political action in taking America for God is loud and clear—and in my opinion, quite dangerous.

Why do I think it is so dangerous? Because I am afraid it sums up a common understanding of the Christian’s relationship with government. The second line of the chorus suggests the way to bring America to God is through the rule of law. Are we really called to bring America to God by stepping into the political ring and duking it out with those of a differing political agenda? And are those who differ with us the Devil as the next line implies?

For me this song exposes a deep-seeded, possibly subconscious concept that the power of government is the best way for us to fulfill the Great Commission. It’s much easier to force people who disagree with us to live like we think they should. So once a year we close the voting booth curtain behind us and vote our values for the candidate who will make this happen. We leave feeling justified that we’ve done our Christian duty. There’s just one problem—requiring someone to live like a Christian doesn’t actually make them one. And if we haven’t made disciples, then we haven’t fulfilled our mission.

Making abortions illegal, outlawing gay marriage, re-instituting prayer in school, and continuing to print “In God We Trust” on our money may mean political victory, but on the heels of missional failure.

If someone wants an abortion, they can find one. If homosexuals don’t marry, they’ll still be gay. Sitting under someone else’s prayer doesn’t result in a heartfelt and personal relationship with God. And printing “In God We Trust” doesn’t make it so. Each of these political victories represent one thing–an unmet need. None of them result in lives changed by Christ’s love. In fact, our example of a political Christ may even push those on the other side of these victories away from him.

So what are we to do—lose the political fight? Maybe. But a better description of what we are to do is fight where it matters. Let’s look at Jesus’ example.

At the time of Christ, the land God had promised his chosen people was occupied by a foreign power whose emperor claimed to be a god himself. Talk about your hot button social issue! In Matthew chapter 8, we find a centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant. This centurion was in the emperor’s service and commanded troops occupying the Holy Land. He represented all that was wrong in Israel. So what did Jesus do? Did he rail about the occupation? Did he require the centurion to lighten up on the Jewish population? Did he grandstand to make a political point? No, he healed the servant and in the process changed the lives of both the servant and the centurion forever. The hot button social issue wasn’t even an issue at all. The only issue was the need. In the end the Romans remained, the need was banished, and lives were changed.

So what does this say about the approach to our mission if we only try to achieve it on the first Tuesday in November? How valuable are our Christian values if they only concern us enough to act upon them once a year? What about the need swirling around our true mission the other 364 days of the year?

Certainly we should be concerned with the operation of our government and its treatment of people. After all, being a good Christian also means being a good citizen. But somehow when it comes to taking America for God, we have traded our power of agape for the power of law. And from an earlier post we learned it is the power of agape that fuels our mission. Man’s law is government. God’s law is love.

In the end, the only way to make America more Christian is to make more Christians in America.

Live The Mission,
Greg