How Can I Make a Difference in America?
According to Rick Steves, there are two kinds of European tourists: “Those who view Europe through air–conditioned bus windows, socializing with their noisy American friends, and those who are taking a vacation from America, immersing themselves in different cultures, experiencing different people and lifestyles, and broadening their perspectives.”1 If we hope to avoid being lumped with the “Ugly Americans” of the first group, Steves recommends behaving more like guests than critics. This requires taking a genuine interest in the people and places we visit. We may prefer our American customs and culture, but it would be insensitive to expect locals to share our feelings.
Christians living in America, or any modern nation, would be wise to follow this advice. As citizens of heaven, we yearn for the holiness and customs of our homeland. But we cannot expect our neighbors and politicians to adopt the Bible as their Magna Carta if Jesus Christ is not their Lord. Rather than pointing out all the ways our culture falls short of God’s standards, we can conduct ourselves like travel agents who are appointed to promote heaven—and all that it entails—as the ideal destination. Our life and ministry will be more fruitful and pleasant if we take a thoughtful approach.
The Root of the Problem
It’s been an interesting study to watch believers stand in pulpits and criticize our culture as evil. Indeed, it would be difficult to disagree with the truth of that statement. Yet there is a Bible verse that outlines simple steps for making a difference in our lives and in our nation, and we don’t find a commentary on cultural finger–pointing. What we find is a call for God’s people to repent. This is the key to unlock God’s forgiveness and healing for our nation.
Second Chronicles 7:14 says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
If My People Will Humble Themselves
Everyone who has conducted a definitive study on revival has pointed out that renewal doesn’t start in the culture. It begins in the Church. It begins in the heart of the Christian. And perhaps one of the things we can learn from some of our past failures is that if we ever get to the place where we get so culture–minded that we are not Christ–minded, we are doomed to failure. We offer the world only the emptiness of our own rhetoric. We must come to them with hearts that are overflowing with the love of God and the peace of Jesus Christ. And then we can make a difference in this world.
If My People Will Pray and Seek My Face
I could prove to you from history that the most significant changes in American culture have not started in huge rallies or even in patriotic demonstrations. They have started in quiet, small gatherings where people began to pray. And they began to pray that God would make a difference in their country. The four great spiritual awakenings that have been historically chronicled in this country were fueled by a few people seeking after God. And it began to grow until it exploded into a revival that no one could understand if they didn’t know God.
If My People Will Turn From Their Wicked Ways
If we stand up and we don’t kneel down, we have ignored the most powerful resource God has given us to win the battle that is before us. A Christian stands the tallest when he is on his knees. We have forgotten that humility is the cause of change in the culture. Some evangelical leaders call us to political mobilization and strategic marketing. Those may not be bad ideas, but God wants the Church to begin with mourning for what’s happening in our culture—and to take responsibility for whatever part we have had in it.
We shake our heads at the demise of prayer in schools, and then we don’t pray when we have the freedom and the right to do it. Statistics suggest that, while we champion the sanctity of life, we abandon our children at the same rate as non–Christians. The problem is not entirely “out there.” It’s in our hearts. And the rebuilding begins with the humbling of ourselves before God.
Please join me in praying for the future of our nation and searching the Scriptures for godly wisdom.
A Prayer for America
In all history, there has been only one nation like America—founded by pilgrims seeking freedom to worship, established on a vast continent between two oceans, dedicated to the proposition that we are created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights: One nation under God.
You have delivered us in war, prospered us in peace, and raised up generations willing to offer the last full measure of their devotion for the preservation of liberty at home and abroad.
We have been a light for the world.
From our shores has gone the greatest missionary force in history.
But now, Lord, America has fallen into darkness, disobedience, and indifference.
We have sinned; and we, Your people, Lord, humble ourselves, and pray and seek Your face, and turn from our wicked ways. Please forgive our sin and heal our land.
Give us leaders who understand the times and know what we should do. May the torch of liberty burn brightly, inflamed by the goodness of Your people.
God, bless America.
In Jesus’ Name.
1“Ugly American Sentiment Abroad,” https://www.ricksteves.com/press–room/ugly–american–sentiment–abroad, accessed on January 21, 2021.
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