God (please) Bless America
A clear-headed challenge for committed Christians
by John Selck, Parent Information Network (P. I. N.)
Nearly all devoted Christians who love America have been heartened to witness a seeming return to our God as seen in much-increased references to Him, expressions of dependence upon His protection, as well as public prayers on every hand, even in public schools. So, is there not much about which to be thoroughly encouraged and even expectant of a national return to real Christianity?
Answer: “Sentimentally” speaking, the answer is “yes,” whereas factually, it is “no.”
Many of us have seen unbelieving friends who were facing personal tragedies (divorces, the death of loved ones, etc.) who seem to have suddenly been converted to Christianity under those circumstances, only to demonstrate later that what we saw was merely regret over current circumstances rather than repentance regarding past sins, a true desire to get right with God. Being realistic, why should we be either surprised or encouraged by a “wandering”, increasingly faithless, and actively wicked American people now seeking to run for shelter into the waiting arms of an assumably delighted Heavenly Father, One who always stands by, ready always to help His children? The only problem with this hopeful scenario is that it misportrays the "nature" and character as well as the demonstrated actions of our God in comparable circumstances throughout history.
The following is meant to be a critical diagnostic review of where America stands in terms of biblical morality, as actively “x-rayed” in the light of Scripture. We hope that it will not be seen as harsh, unsympathetic, or hateful in any way. Of course, we do live in an era of incredible man-centeredness, even among sincere believers, and some will perhaps be offended despite the intention hereof. There is certainly not a desire to portray our patient, long-suffering Lord God as unduly wrathful or uncaring. To the contrary, He has been revealed time after time as merciful and ready to hear the genuine pleas of His children for forgiveness and for yet another chance. In fact, true national repentance is often met not only with a blessed restoration to God’s favor and blessing but also with wide-ranging aspects of revival and reformation. However, one element is always present: real repentance!
Food for thought:
Belatedly it struck us that the everywhere present poster saying “GOD BLESS AMERICA” is really an invocation, a plea for our God’s attention and presence, not some kind of morale-building slogan. Our indescribably holy God is never entertained when profane, worldly, wicked men use His name and presumptuously expect His favor.
What we should be saying is this: “GOD, PLEASE BLESS AMERICA.” This earnest plea for His help should be preceded by an equally earnest plea for His forgiveness. This is the ground of true repentance. Repentance, after all, can be seen as the “drawbridge” over which the Lord’s mercy can properly pass. No repentance, no forgiveness, no merciful delivery. That is the key point of this entire paper.
That Americans exhibit a lot of carnal or worldly confidence is well demonstrated. Instead of a proper “gratitude attitude” for that abundance which we have been given, there has come to be a presumptuous expectation of its continuation. It looks like our God is going to cause/allow (your own theology will dictate which word you use!) us to feel real chastisement and tribulation in our lifetimes. There can be some comfort, if we are indeed Christians, as we realize that “whom He loveth, He chasteneth.” Since our God is truly infinite, He is able to treat entire nations as He does individuals in that regard as the Old Testament narrative so clearly indicates . . . Deuteronomy, Chapter 28, comes quickly to mind in that connection.
HE IS NOT OUR “FLICK-ON” GOD!
The man-centeredness of many churches has become so extreme in our time that we could almost believe that the whole “purpose” of God is to serve us. This juvenile understanding of our blessed relationship with the Lord God is, of course, ridiculous. The Scriptures variously describe us as His servants and the sheep of His pasture. We are owned property, pure and simple, and need to be blessedly subject to His wishes, not the reverse.
Have you not sometimes shrunk back in horror in hearing some unbelievers and believers alike describing the Lord Jesus like some kind of heavenly male nurse or a celestial social worker, always “on call” to take care of men, no matter what their heart attitudes? When we read and meditate upon the blessed words of the Lord’s Prayer, as taught to us by the Lord Jesus Himself, we see a blessed balance between God the Father’s Lordship and His tender Fatherhood, but we never are to view Him as merely existing for our benefit. The blessedness of His forgiveness, His mercy, and His tender care for us are due to His goodness, not due to our merits.
A CENTRAL TRAIT OF HIS PERSONALITY IS “JEALOUSY” WHEN IGNORED AND NEGLECTED
Exodus 20:5 declares clearly that “I, THE LORD THY GOD, AM A JEALOUS GOD . . . ” That America has wandered as far as Israel and has squandered our marvelous birthright as Americans as heedlessly as did the Israelites seems beyond reasonable dispute. What is open to real dispute is whether America and Americans have any real covenantal claim upon the Lord, as did believers in the nation of Israel. While most of our founding fathers were believers, they really “botched it” when they got into the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Yes, there were certain prayers of invocation in search of His oversight and mercy, but it was a very imperfect performance, if our understanding is correct.
Certainly it should be noted that while the thirteen covenanting states which formed the Union had a requirement that office holders confess faith in the Lord Christ and that these states made blasphemy a civil crime, they did not later do as well in Convention and in the finished product of their deliberations. However, the Lord clearly blessed this nation in a way remarkably similar to what He did for His children in Israel. Moreover, we do know that the Scripture speaks of that man to whom much is given as being that man of whom much shall be required. The least that we can say is that we have squandered away our inheritance through moral indifference and outright depravity, almost total decay in personal honor and righteousness, and certainly in the loss of a sense of shame! This last point should make us all shudder in horror. In today’s America, almost nothing provokes a sense of shame, whether it be our youngsters “shacking up” or parading half-naked in the streets or now the spectacle of grandparents cohabiting in lieu of marriage! Think about it . . . If this, upon reflection, upsets us, think of the sense of hot indignation on the part of our Holy God, who “invented” the covenant of marriage to model the faithfulness of Christ to His church and visa versa. Just think about this for a few moments, dear friend.
THE FRUITS OF OUR AMERICAN CULTURE ARE NOW BITTER ONES INDEED
America still looks beautiful and has many blessed remnants of a civilized Christian culture, but closer examination reveals dry rot and decay. One need hardly comment upon a nation which has legally enabled the murder of over 35 million “sleeping” pre-born children, the growth of pornography to the point where TV advertisements – even during ball games – should now be R-rated, where public profanity and cursing are so commonplace that we do not even reprove the most wicked utterances, and where we saw the re-election of Bill Clinton in a virtual national moral “plebiscite”! Interpretation: we “lost” the plebiscite. Most Americans knew by 1996 that this was a bad man, even though many refused to admit and act upon such knowledge! If one wants to understand the American people’s strange affinity for the blatantly wicked Bill Clinton, one merely needs to read and ponder Romans 1:32. There are additional, sick reasons for his public popularity, even among Christians, but this one verse says enough.
Historically speaking, it very much looks like the stage has been set for either the gnashing of teeth in national repentance and a true turning back to God or the total eclipse of America. Make no mistake about it: America is every bit as vulnerable as those two massive towers. The support beams of American society are now largely rotted through and the body of our country is soft and vulnerable.
Yet, our Lord God Jehovah is indeed a mighty and awesome God. He is not impressed by numbers, demographic studies, public opinion polls or any other human devices. Scripture says that He sees beyond the outward things and looks upon the heart of man. IF we turn from our wicked ways and turn penitently unto Him, we can be confident that He will have mercy and restore our nation (II Chronicles 7:14). Hopefully this is not taking too much liberty with the Scriptures here, because the nature of our God has not changed, whether we speak of ancient Israel or modern America! We know that there is true joy and excitement in heaven when just one sinner comes to repentance, and one can just anticipate the joy among the righteous ones there assembled when nations come to recognize their evil ways, come to repentance, and thus take on a sweet aroma in the nostrils of our Holy God! Might we blessedly see this in America?
What we can do:
THE PHENOMENON OF A NATIONAL REFORMATION is a Heaven-wrought experience, issuing from the very throne room of God. When He sends His Holy Spirit upon a nation with unstoppable power and effect, men and nations both come to repentance. Righteousness replaces laxity and immorality. Care about the things of the Lord and His reputation among men takes on huge importance in the hearts of real Christians. God-centeredness rapidly replaces childish man-centeredness of the kind which we witness in America today. Real worship ensues and childish entertainment in the church ceases. True joy replaces false mood enhancers, and God and man come more and more to think with one mind. In short, friends, He takes us over!
This is doubtlessly the greatest opportunity for the Lord’s servants to tell the truths which honor Him, and to call fellow Americans to real repentance. Pulpits can again become aflame with righteousness and fervor. Real tears can be seen again on American faces, and a lot of dirt and stains can be washed away . . . by the blood of the Lamb.
If you are privileged to be one of the Lord’s men in the pulpit, please consider putting together a series of sermons with some of the themes unearthed in this little memo. Examine the Lord’s fundamental characteristics or “attributes,” and call your people in the pews to repentance and faith. If you are a layman, send this memo (or any parts hereof, because we are seeking no notoriety herein) to your pastor and go to see him for breakfast or lunch, and discuss the topic. Martin Luther, for example, placed great confidence and responsibility in laymen as opposed to the idea of clergymen bearing all of the responsibility for that vital relationship between God and man (the role of Luther’s “believer-priest”).
Most of all, become diligent about your own spiritual life with the Lord. There is one reformation which we can most certainly see, that of each of us individually. So, there will then be reformation with the only question becoming the extent thereof.
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