I came across an opinion piece on Christian Post by Rev. Mark Creech entitled As Goes the Church, So Goes the Country, and thought, how true! Inside, this short paragraph struck a chord: "Surely, the state of true religion is in a bad way. Our nation is also far removed from its moral underpinnings. As goes the church, so goes the country." That resonated because the past two years have also seen the exposure of the gap between the church and the moral underpinnings to which it once anchored its values. If the church is the moral barometer of the country, it is no surprise, then, that our beloved nation is in moral decline.
Notably, is Creech's observation that "the state of true religion is in a bad way." It is an admission that the religion currently being practiced is a counterfeit. He made some really good points and mentioned Hosea 4 where the indictment against Israel was the lack of truth, faithfulness, love and "no knowledge of God in the land!" Great application of scripture because that is exactly the state of the church and our country today. But that is where my agreement ends.
Creech's solution tended towards a kind of Christian nationalist approach with continued political activism on social issues - the same dynamic that produced the current state of affairs. It maintains the destructive divisions of political ideology and labels within the church, which God hates (Prov. 6:19; I Cor. 1:10-13).
Until we come to truly understand that the church is not an earthly institution, but the representative of the divine kingdom of God, we will continue to make the same mistakes we have always made. The mission of the church is to proclaim the Gospel message, and to make disciples. We keep making the mistake of thinking that the defining social and political issues of the culture wars are what drive the Gospel. They tend more to be hindrances. That does not mean the church cannot address social and political issues. It means that social and political issues should never detract from the mission. Why is that? The root of the problems that manifest themselves in social and political struggles is addressed in the message of the Gospel.
The lack of true knowledge of God in the land means that the church is not teaching the people who God truly is. Or worse, the church is not representing the true God to the country. At the root of unrighteousness is the lack of knowledge of the requirements of our righteous God.
When we read in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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," there are some things we must come fully to grips with.
First, we must come to grips with the fact that there is a connection between God's people and the land. Today, God's people is the church, and we can say the land is our country. I am not saying, as so many erroneously do, that God's people is the American Church, and the country is the United States. The point I am making is that wherever the church is found, it becomes the representative of God in the country wherein it abides. The church is the body of Christ, who is the seed of Abraham, through whom the "nations are blessed" (Genesis 22:18). If the church has moral failings then the land will suffer.
Second, we must come to grips with the fact that it is the sins of his people, the church, that are negatively affecting the country. The broader society of non-believers are not his people. We are. It is our sins and wickedness. Our involvement in society, the way we conduct ourselves in social and political affairs, is having a morally debilitating effect on how people behave and think. And we deceive ourselves by thinking that the "right" policies or legislations will change society. It is a spiritual problem. If we accept that the church is the moral barometer of the country, then where we find our country morally today, is because the moral state of the church is unacceptable to God.
Third, we must come to grips with the fact that we refuse to humble ourselves and admit our faults. Even as we acknowledge that our country is sinking deeper into the moral morass, we find time to blame others. I dare say that the culture wars are excuses for not accepting our own failures or admitting our own sins. That much is evident because of the inconsistency of applying the moral outrage demonstrated on cultural issues to all moral failings of those in power.
Fourth, we must come to grips with the fact that we need to sincerely repent. Every so often we experience a touch of conscience and are moved to repent of what we know are wrong. But that is far too rare, and hardly sincere. Yet, it is not until we are sincere that change will come. Our tears are wasted if our hearts are wayward. God knows when we are contrite, and that is when he will bring healing.
It is a good thing to look critically at ourselves, and what we have become as a church that ought to represent a Righteous, Holy God who says to be righteous because he is righteous. The wise man says "Righteousness exalts a nation." Non-believers cannot be righteous, so it is the people of God, the church, who must rise to that righteousness and lift our country from the pit of immorality and destruction. The church has to practice righteousness, and I explained how in an earlier article. Not every person will receive the message of the Gospel and be saved, but a righteous church will save the country.