By: Thomas Fletcher Booher
Something is wrong with America. According to Christians that is, and it has been for a long time. Gay marriage, abortions, Obama, wars, government, Arminians, it is all just wrong. I guess we better cry and complain about it some more and wait for God's judgment to pour down on all those wicked people.
Sometimes that's what it sounds like to me. Doom and gloom. No hope for America because she's already taken on too much water. What a sad lot of sovereign gracer's we are if we actually believe that. Cannot God do anything? Yes, He can do all His holy will. Or at least, isn't that what reformed people learned to mimic as children?
I'm reformed. I'm late to the party as I didn't become a Calvinist til I was 19. I love the reformed faith, I agree with Spurgeon that it is just a nickname for biblical Christianity, but that doesn't mean that I think all is well in the reformed world. You see, I think we are taking on just as much water as America, and it is because we are taking on water that America is taking on water. If we are the standard of orthodoxy, if we are indeed the true heirs of biblical Christianity that can trace their teaching and lineage right back to the Apostle Paul, then as we go, the culture goes. And I think we are going because we are forgetting to take the gospel outside of the classroom and church.
With what message did Christ turn the world upside down? The message of political activism, of taking up the agenda of one particular prevalent sin and blowing the bullhorn till the walls came tumbling down? No, He came with the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, lest I need to remind anyone (Rom. 1:16). The government and social standing of the land back then? Worse than ours today. The leaders were cruel, murderers (has our President killed his own people? And being pro-choice doesn't make a President a murderer), openly dishonest, and unjust. Oh, and they killed Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The tax collectors, soldiers, and others were despised by the people for taking more money than they were supposed to collect, or for demanding that the people carry their loads.
Did John the Baptist, in calling people to repentance and preparing the way for Jesus Christ, tell these tax collectors to cease collecting taxes because it was stealing, wicked, and evil, and did He tell soldiers to quit being soldiers even though they were working for wicked rulers who would deploy them in nefarious affairs, including crucifying Jesus Christ? No, actually, John told the tax collectors to only take what they were appointed to take and he told the soldiers to not intimidate anyone, accuse falsely, and for them to be content with their wages (see Luke 3).
Compare that to the "ghastly" Obamacare and gun reduction, and I think we aren't in nearly as dire a situation folks. And regardless, the principle isn't to call out tax collectors, the President, and abusive soldiers (or policeman may better fit for us here today) to fix the problem. Should these things be decried? If it is stealing and if there is abuse, absolutely. But that's not going to fix it. The gospel is what will fix it. Right reasoning with people is what will fix things. Christ turned the world upside down with the gospel, and that is what He has commissioned us to do as well.
Did Christ spend most of His time yelling at the wicked, unbelieving leaders or the hypocritical religious pharisees? I think we know the answer to that. I think the finger needs to be pointed squarely at us, the Church, those who believe in election and are sure we are elect. We have not championed the gospel to the lost as we ought, but worse still, we have not entrenched our families in the Word. This, I believe, starts at the top, in the seminaries. If the preaching curriculum is poor in the seminaries, then pastors will not come out preaching strong, parents will not be parenting strong, and the next generation will be led by the culture around them rather than the Word of God. For all our conferences and talk, I think this still happens a lot more than we would like to think. We are doing some good on some levels, but not on every level, not on the mass populace level.
For starters, the preaching. I am incredibly thankful for some of the reformed pastors out there, both the well known ones and the not so well known ones, because I have learned much theology from them. I have been taught the true gospel and the primacy of it, but when the rubber meets the road, like right now in America, I don't see it being primary. I see too much compartmentalizing of today's issues and I don't always see the solutions being firmly rooted in the Word of God. I get on Facebook, read what many reformed leaders are saying, and I don't always see the gospel as being the means to overcome the world's woes. There must be conquered hearts if there is going to be conquered living for the Kingdom of God. So let's let abortion be legal, homosexuals marry, and taxes increase if we don't preach the gospel, because no matter how much we huff and puff without the gospel, all those things will be legal and will increase.
Raise your hand if your family devotional time is modeled off of Deuteronomy 6. What does that say? This:
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Until this is our model and we consistently put it into practice, why would we presume to fix America? In fact, do we not realize that the way we fix America is, in large part, by focusing on our family first? That if we steep ourselves, our spouses, and our children in the Word, this will spill out of our mouths and actions with unbelievers, and that by our words, behaviors, and deeds we can be salt and light? And 20-30 minutes a day with the family after dinner isn't even close to matching what the above verses say. The above verses essentially say that the Word of God is like the air that we breathe, it is ever present in the Christian family, so much so that teaching and learning doesn't always even have to take place in a formal, designated time slot, but happens as you go about your business because it is the main subject of God's people and speaks to every issue and every thing that we do.
This will produce Christ-likeness in ourselves and our families, which will spill over into our interactions with unbelievers. Christ spoke truly with a righteous Spirit, and His deeds matched His words and His spirit. We must not only say the right things, but say them the right way, both firm and loving, uncompromising and compassionate, and then live our lives in the same manner, so that people will glorify God because of our good deeds.
Yet our young people are still enamored with Hollywood. We want the latest fashion, the latest gizmos, the latest pop romance. Our men are neck deep in porn, and are women dress like porn stars. We decry abortion, yet Christians commit abortion, or at the very least, refuse to trust God with the size of their family and put a muzzle on the future generation not by killing them, but by preventing them from ever even forming! Our orthodoxy isn't doing a great job of informing our orthopraxy, and I am convinced that because of this, American morality on the whole is sinking.
So I am advocating we fix America by first fixing ourselves, the Church. And yes, even the reformed. Especially the reformed. In fact, what I am saying is that you fix America by fixing the Church, by focusing on her as much as we possibly can. If we are sanctified- as in separate, holy, other, then the world will take notice, and by God's grace, armed with the gospel, the world will follow the Church. America will follow the Church.
I pray that God would make me more holy, that I would study His Word more, love it and live it, that God would raise up great preachers and not just great teachers, who will bring us under the authority of the Word, leave us filling convicted and wanting to repent and to change, so that at the end of each and every Lord's Day you and I can cry out to God Almighty and Christ our Lord and Savior what David cried in repentance for his adultery in Psalm 51:
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,And sinners shall be converted to You.