If a person has to say “I’m the boss” or proclaim that they are the one in charge, then it’s pretty obvious they are not. People naturally follow the real leader of the group by instinct. Followers ignore the sirens and the megaphones and the buzzers, and instead pay attention to the high pitch dog whistle. There’s no way around a natural leader rounding up his followers.
In the past year especially, there have been some ruffled feathers regarding comments made about our country no longer being a “Christian nation”. Is it true, is it not true? The fact is this: It’s not a matter of any one person making that decision… It’s up to those who are Christians and the true influence they have on those around them.
I can’t help but be intrigued by China. They are known as a Communist/atheist nation having less than 1% of the population professing to be Christians, but a common belief among many missionary circles is that there are just as many Christians in China as they are in America, due to China’s huge population and rapidly growing “underground Christian church” movement in recent years. Many missionaries also predict that within 20 years, Christianity will be the most popular religion in India. Aside from vague statistics and educated predictions, the bottom line is this: The government can not decide or label the official religion of a country- but its people do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Christians_in_the_world.png
The pastor of my church has mentioned that in the past several years as more courthouses, schools, city halls, and other government buildings have removed the Ten Commandments, he has been approached by people trying to recruit him to participate in a march protesting the event. His response is always the same to the fired-up believer: “If you can name all Ten Commandments I’ll be glad to join you.” My pastor has yeet to have to join a protest.
Despite government buildings no longer displaying the Ten Commandments, despite each state’s own interpretation of the term “marriage”, despite public schools banning prayer in school, I can’t help but say to myself, “so what?”
A person living an immoral lifestyle which is contrary to the Bible won’t be helped by the courthouse letting them catch a glimpse of the Ten Commandments as they’re being led into their incriminating court case. Nor does it necessarily cause a judge to rule a case in a “more conservative Christian” way. The Bible and the Ten Commandments it contains are not magic relics that within themselves make the world a safer, more spiritual place.
A person has to actually read, study, and apply these teachings to their personal lives. And for that to happen, it often involves parents teaching the importance and relevance of them in the home and instilling those values in children who will make them essential in their adult lives. The reading of the Bible in the home is the key, not the reading of it in a public government building.
From the very first few chapters of the Bible, God Himself ordains the first marriage between Adam and Eve. But as it’s portrayed, marriage is a spiritual union, not a governmental one. Marriage does provide economic and legalistic benefits, but the Bible doesn’t paint marriage as simply a legal contract between a man and woman, it is a holy covenant between a man and a woman. That goes beyond what a government can even touch. No matter how a government recognizes it, marriage actually is what the Bible says it is, not changed by a nation’s laws. It’s the matter of governmental recognition of marriage that people tend to get emotional about.
As for prayer in schools, I agree with the bumper sticker: “As long as there are tests, there will always be prayer in schools.” Our modern nation was largely formed when Europeans fled their countries to escape a government which tied religious customs into the law. (I watched The Patriot with Mel Gibson.) While many of our heroic forefathers were Christians, they made a point to write the law so that no one religion would dominate the way our country is governed. It was only a matter of time that other major religions (Islam, Hinduism, atheism, etc.) would notice how Christianized schools and courts had become on the outside and want to celebrate their own beliefs instead, without being limited by the openly Christian culture infused into the government.
So take it all away on the outside. Does it actually change what’s on the inside? China has proven that even in the event the government makes the Bible illegal and Christianity punishable by death, Christianity still spreads and continues to grow.
Still, I have to admit I found comfort in the fact that “In God We Trust” is printed and/or engraved on our money. This practice was originally put into effect because of the popular demand of the American public as a way to counter the godlessness felt during the Civil War, then made into the official national motto by President Eisenhower as a stand against the Cold War. Like many people, I simply feel better having the motto on our currency.
But in the unthinkable event that in the near future the motto is removed, there is the other side of the coin (inevitable pun). There’s President Roosevelt’s perspective which he revealed in a letter to William Boldly in 1907:
“My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege.”
He’s got a point. Going back to the Ten Commandments, we are told not to use God’s name in vain. Money is about as vain as it gets. The same cash spent on illegal drugs and prostitution by people who don’t know God, actually proclaims that they trust in God. Ironic? Little bit.
Who gets to decide whether or not we are a Christian nation? And which source should we pay attention to? Members of our govern-ment? National statistics? Or the actual influence of Christians in the country?
Stories in the Old Testament tell of God completely wiping out entire countries or handing them over to slavery because they as a nation were corrupt and had forsaken Him. Is that our true fear? The security blankets we mesh into our government don’t change the true spiritual condition of our own individual lives. And from everything I’ve read in the New Testament concerning how Jesus’ death and return back to life changed the Old Testament law, it looks like God is more concerned about our personal relationship with him that what our national religious status is.
We attribute so much of the nation’s success or failure to its collective relationship with God, but I have a feeling our God is much more personal than that. He looks beyond invisible borders that people fought and died to expand and name as their own land, and reaches into the lives of those who allow Him.