I was reading just this week a pamphlet that I received in the mail urging Christians to get involved in the political process for the good of our nation. Here’s one quote:
Many Christians are praying for and expecting revival. While it is true that God has already given America three national revivals in the past, we desperately need another one today. Personally, I’m not sure we can have one without legislative reform, because we have strayed so far from our Biblical foundations. You cannot pollute the minds of a nation with ten billion dollars of pornographic literature annually and murder one and a half million unborn babies and have a revival. We must have legislative reform, but we will never have legislative reform until we elect enough leaders who are committed to that reform.
Would a righteous God give us revival while we murder 4,000 babies every day? Will He bless us while we legalize pornography and remove Him from the respectful position He has had traditionally? I think not.
This raises a fundamental question about our Christian faith: which came first, our goodness or God’s grace? Does God give us His grace in response to our goodness or is our goodness a result of His first pouring out His grace?
Or, to put it in political terms, should we only expect God to give revival once political reform has already happened, or is it more likely that God would give us revival which would lead to legislative/political reform?
In both cases, I would argue the latter.
Or think of it this way: Did God not give Jesus Christ to an apostate Israel after 400 years of deafening silence and that during a pagan Roman occupation? There was little good to be spoken of in Israel or Rome at the time, yet God sent His Son, the One through whom He was going to make “all things new” (Rev. 21:5). The greatest gift we have ever received in the history of the world, God’s Son, was not given to us in response to our goodness, or because we had the right people in power, or because we were pursuing legislative reform, but simply because God loved us. God gave us His Son Jesus, because “he so loved the world” (John 3:16). “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
Take John 3:16 for instance. “World” or cosmos in the Greek, is a almost like a dirty word for John. When John says world, think “bad.” For example, John, the same John who wrote the gospel of John, says in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world (same word in Greek as is found in John 3:16), the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
The world is bad.
Paul gives us another depressing picture of the world in Romans 3:10-18. “There is none righteous, not even one. There is none who understands, all have turned aside… There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
So then why did God send Jesus? Why does anything good ever happen to us? To anyone in the world?
And God’s love (or blessing) does not depend upon our pursuit of legislative reform, or because we attain it.
Revival is possible in this nation, and I do pray and hope that God gives us a wave of revival like never before seen. I do see the vast array of problems that only seem to multiply and continue to grow in power and influence here in what used to be a great nation. I do fully understand as well, that as we grow increasingly hostile in this nation to God and to His truth that it will become harder for Christians to live as they please. That grieves me unspeakably.
But I do not think that the way to pursue revival is by banging on the doors of the White House or by changing any laws. That may be necessary. But where there are cold hearts, no law(s) will ever warm them. Only the gospel will warm the heart.
That is what we need more of, not legislative reform. Christians should, in my opinion, focus more on living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and less on enshrining our values in the laws of our land. There may be overlap there, but they are not one and the same thing.
My life is one of contradictions. I’m a southern boy living in northern New England; a boring guy married to super-fun girl; a conservative pastor in a progressive Christian denomination; a changed man in need of change; a sinner loved by a holy and perfect God.