America can be restored, notwithstanding the long downward path and recent defeats. The nation can be healed, but only with intentional and informed engagement by a remnant.
First, we must recognize that ultimately, healing nations is God’s work: “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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” II Chronicles 7:14. Note the conditional promise: If my people … then will I hear. God promises to act if his people obey.
God stands ready to heal America. But His people … not atheists, not the government, but his people … must cry out in repentance. His people must seek God’s face and repent.
Second, we must remember that we live in a fallen world. We are battling the world system, the flesh (that is, our own propensity to sin and perhaps the most important and hardest battle to fight), and the devil. Things often go badly in battles. Some we will win, some we will lose.
Those that have intentionally or unintentionally replaced the worship of the living God with the worship of the state are growing in number–and they are on the offensive. Conflicts are not won by defense. They are only won by offense. We need to go on the offense with the weapons of our King: love, servanthood, and truth.
It seems increasingly evident that we have lost the battle for the culture. As a consequence, we are losing the battle in the political and economic arenas. We are grieving. Yet we must get up and fight even as we grieve.
Third, we are to walk in hope, not despair. If we have crossed a national point of no-return, mourning is appropriate. But not despair. We are not to live in despondency, for two main reasons. First, Christ was victorious at the cross (Col. 2:15). In the epic battle of the cosmic war between God and the demonic, Christ was the victor! Second, his second coming, and with him the full arrival of the Kingdom of God, is certain. We know how the war ends! We have every reason for living in hope.
Fourth, we must avoid two extremes. Some might be tempted to disengage from civic responsibilities, whether out of discouragement or a mistaken understanding that the public square is not an appropriate venue for Christians engagement. The other extreme is triumphalism—seeking victory through political effort. Christians need to engage in the political sphere, as in every sphere, but political persuasion alone will not transform a nation.
Fifth, work on the internal before the external. Culture in America must be transformed before a society can be reformed. Wilberforce and Wesley, who launched genuine transformation, sought to “reform the manners” of society and though this civilize the nation.
Sixth, know your calling and consciously function from that calling to change reality in the place where you work and live. No matter our circumstances, we are citizens of heaven and ambassadors of the King. Wherever you work—the factory, the university, the court of law, the halls of government, the market place—He wants to be there.
Seventh, count the cost. Bringing truth, beauty, and goodness into the public arena will be costly (see Hebrews 11:32-38). Evil will not go quietly from the field. Consider the price paid by Wilberforce and his Clapham colleagues to dismantle the institution of slavery.
The apostle Paul describes the cost he paid for advancing the gospel among the Gentiles.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. II Corinthians 4:8-9.
The 26th President of the United States,Teddy Roosevelt laid out a challenge in his Citizenship In A Republic speech. He describes the Man In the Arena:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Be the New Puritans in America
It was the Puritans, the grandchildren of the reformers, who came to the new world to build a City on a Hill. As we have argued elsewhere, the Puritans had a comprehensive vision for building a nation – a nation where people could live free, where citizens were free to dream, and work to see those dreams become reality.
Their vision encompassed three things:
Veritas – The pursuit of Truth
Encyclpedia – The circle of knowledge
Eupraxia – The practice of right living
The same vision that laid the foundations of this exceptional nation can rebuild America. Christians need to restore that vision in order to reform this great nation. If we are to see our nation restored, we must have the Puritans’ mind and heart for the task.
As President Obama said, the election of 2012 will decide the future of America. Which future will it be? The rebirth of the freest, most prosperous nation the world has ever seen through the restoration of Biblical principles applied to political, economic and social policy? Or will we continue the long march to statism and tyranny?
If the nation is to be restored to her Biblical foundations and resulting greatness, the Remnant will need to rise up and work towards that end.
May we take courage from the watching cloud of witnesses.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
– Darrow Miller