In my devotions over the last two or three months, I have started my prayer time by concentrating on the Church. I pray—actually, I plead, the Lord would wake us up, cause us to repent, turn from our own false idols. I pray God's Spirit would fill us with a burning desire to love Him and advance His kingdom.
Then I pray for my family, who are so dear to me. And then, I pray for my country because my heart aches as I see all that is happening, particularly with the economic crisis and the wrong way we're going about solving it.
It was on my knees a few months ago that God hit me like a 10-ton truck about the priority praying for the Church first. We can't pray for our nation to be revived, to be saved, to receive God's mercy; we can't pray for our leaders to make wise decisions unless we first pray for the Church.
When it comes to the economy, our nation has dug a hole for itself. And sure enough, we are continuing to dig. At a recent meeting with President-elect Obama, the nation's governors had their hands out, asking for federal dollars. The President-elect was all too happy to oblige. But South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford knows better. In a statement in front of Mr. Obama and his fellow governors, he said "We don't believe economic problems that were in large measure created by too much debt will be solved by more debt."
Amen, and hallelujah! Finally somebody spoke the truth.
Our nation is in this crisis precisely because we've traded in a Christian worldview of work, thrift, savings, and prudence, and instead have embraced the false worldview of consumerism—of leisure, debt, and instant gratification.
That's a false worldview, and it leads to the worst kind of idolatries. And it will also lead to our self-destruction.
And insofar as we Christians have abandoned our heritage and have bought into the idolatry of consumerism, we have betrayed not only our God, but the nation we love.
I want to put it in the plainest terms I know how: This nation cannot be saved unless the Church is first revived. Renewing the Church is the key to saving America.
I no longer know for sure that America has a special place in God's sovereign plan for the world. I could argue that we have in the past. No other nation has played such a positive role—from helping the poor to defeating tyranny to stopping the spread of disease (just like we're doing in Africa today in the fight against AIDS).
But we will be unable to continue to be a force for good in the world if we are bankrupt. The fact is, we are bankrupt today, neck-deep in debt, and our people have become self-indulgent. And it starts with us: the Church.
I truly believe my prayer priorities are correct. Pray that God will inspire us, His people, to reorganize our priorities. That we will reject the idolatry of consumerism, that we will reject the therapeutic gospel, and seek holiness. And that we will serve our neighbors in charity, that we will use this economic calamity as an opportunity to teach the culture what matters most—a relationship with God.
For if the Church continues to embrace the ways of the world, I don't see how America can maintain it place in the world—much less survive in it.