It’s Time for Christian Activism in America
[Reading time: 6 minutes] There’s a lot of discussion about whether America is a Christian nation. As a Christian, I would describe America as a secular nation built on Judeo-Christian principles by people who clearly served God. Christianity isn’t our national religion but it’s the foundation of our government, liberties and culture.
Whether we consider this a Christian nation, we probably will agree our government and culture are moving away from our Christian values. While our nation has always had problems, as any human culture will, today we’re faced with a variety of major problems that threaten serious harm. It’s as though our problems have become more intense and more numerous in recent years.
Many Christians and ministries are asking us to pray for our nation. I agree and ask you to join me in praying specifically for our government leaders, the Christian community, and ourselves. In addition to praying, I ask you to join me in becoming an active citizen by standing for righteousness and positively influencing others, including our leaders.
Pray for Our Government Leaders
I once encouraged a group of Christians to pray for our President and someone insisted he wouldn’t because he strongly disagreed with the President’s policies. Let me draw your attention to the following scripture: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1–2, NIV). Notice this passage says nothing about whether those in authority are good or evil, Christian or non-, our political party or another.
The simple fact is that our petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for – not against – our elected and unelected leaders affects their performance, regardless of their spiritual condition. Why? Because our spiritual authority as Christians causes our petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for our leaders to create a more positive spiritual environment for them. This allows them to be more aware of righteous options when addressing problems, be more sensitive to Christian voices, and make better decisions. This also benefits us by improving the environment in which we live: “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
Pray for the Christian Community
I suggest many problems we face as a nation are merely symptoms of spiritual decay in the Christian community. As Jesus was talking about what discipleship requires of a person, he referred to salt’s qualities. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out” (Luke 14:34-35). Salt provides multiple benefits, one of the most obvious is the way it improves the taste of foods. We are the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). We should improve our social environments by making them more pleasant, our communities by making them more hospitable, and our nation by making it safer and more lawful.
Salt also is a preservative that works by destroying harmful influences. Similarly, the Christian community should preserve the civil culture in which it exists by destroying spiritually evil works; this isn’t physical, but a spiritual action based on our spiritual authority (Matt. 10:1; 28:18-20; Luke 10:19). Our conflict is not with humans, but with rulers, authorities, powers and forces in the spiritual realm (Eph. 6:12).
We also are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). Light exposes reality and we do so by showing the power of God in our lives, which will drive away the darkness. Darkness is simply the absence of light, so if we Christians fail to function as spiritual light, we have no right to complain about the darkness.
I believe that if the Christian community had been doing its spiritual job for the last 100 years or so, we wouldn’t be facing most of the problems threatening our nation today. We’re not functioning as salt and light in America.
Let’s pray for the real problems facing our nation. Ask God to arouse the Christian community by whatever means he chooses so we’ll stand for righteousness and be a positive influence in our nation. Regardless of doctrinal differences, we can and must stand united on the essentials: (1) God loved us and sent his Son to die for our sins, (2) the Bible is the inerrant word of God, the manual he provided to show us how to live, and (3) his Holy Spirit empowers and transforms us.
As the Christian community embraces what we Christians have in common and becomes a strong positive influence, the spiritual environment will change and biblical values will again prevail.
Pray for Ourselves
Now let’s get more specific. The Christian community consists of born-again believers. That community is failing because we individually are failing to take God seriously, live to please him, and represent him in our world. Jesus was extremely clear about our priorities: Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and don’t be preoccupied with the ordinary things of life because he’ll provide whatever we need (Matt. 6:25-34).
We’ve thought like the world long enough and it’s time for us to change the way we think and live (Eph. 4:17; Rom. 12:2). When we consider that God saved us from wasted lives and eternal torment, how can we do anything less? Why would we not be devoted to a loving Father who cares for us and works everything together for our good? (Matt. 10:29-31; Rom. 8:28).
I invite all American Christians to join me in praying something like the following:
Father, I confess that I’m still self-centered and indulge my sinful attitudes. Like most Christians in America, I have little understanding of your nature and ways, I don’t fear you as I should, and I’m not as effective in your kingdom as I could be. Have mercy on me, correct me with your love, help me embrace your nature and do the works you created me to do. Use me to liberate people from the evil that has enslaved them and bring them into your kingdom.
Continue working in Christians across our land, making us more like you and less like the world. May our love and honor for each other be obvious and may we commit ourselves to spreading your love everywhere we go. Purify and empower us to release your kingdom everywhere we go, transform people’s lives, and completely change our culture. May unbelievers be drawn by your nature, power and holiness in us.
Thank you for the liberties we enjoy in America. Help us become positive influences on our elected officials and government leaders. Bless them with godly wisdom for governing our country and protect them from those who would harm them. Reveal yourself to them as the only true God. May they receive righteous counsel, dreams and revelation and serve our nation according to your will.
Become Active Citizens
Christian activism involves interacting with other people, including government leaders. We’ve identified some ways to pray for ourselves and other believers, but we also need to accept responsibility for our own actions and inactions. Yes, God will help us, but only if we act.
This is no time to be passive. Rather, it’s time to step out of our comfort zones and be salt and light, to do the things we asked God to help us do. To effectively represent God’s love and grace as we speak truth and righteousness to those who think like the world. To contact our government leaders and ask them to support policies and legislation that align with biblical values, and oppose those that don’t. To support candidates who stand for biblical values. To attend and speak up at public meetings. To act as representatives of God’s kingdom and active citizens of our nation, states and counties.
As we turn to the Lord and become increasingly like him, the Christian community again will be a positive influence, and many of our national problems will be resolved. I also believe we’ll see God’s power on earth like never before.
This isn’t a time to be passive, pessimistic or confrontational. Rather, it’s time for us to be true Christians who happen to be American citizens, to be salt and light in our world and make a difference.
Bible-based Christian activism will enable us to be a positive influence in our nation and the Christian community throughout the world.