I try really hard as I read the Bible to make sure I am keeping an eye on the context of the passage. There are many passages that Christians claim for themselves (e.g., 2 Chronicles 7:14) that were promises made to Israel and not for America. I always want to make sure that I am first reading in context, but sometimes I think we can learn from the principle of the passage. For example, this morning I was reading Joshua and I came across this passage:
“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you."-Joshua 23:14-16
Joshua is about to die and is attempting to pass along wisdom to the Hebrews who are now in the promised land. He offers an encouragement and a warning. First, he told them that all the good stuff God promised He has accomplished, just as he said he would. But then he issues the warning. He tells them essentially that if they turn from the covenant of God which He commanded, they will "perish quickly from off the land that He has given" them.
Why do I bring this passage up? Because I think the principle is an important one. The United States of America was founded on a biblical worldview that cherished personal freedoms, personal integrity, and moral uprightness. However, they were also deeply committed to one another in social contexts. Their lives and their decisions were grounded in a thoroughly Christian worldview. At least in part because of that biblical worldview, the United States has flourished for over 200 years, despite enduring agricultural, financial, and military hardships.
We now stand on the precipice of one of the greatest threats we have ever faced. Our society is becoming increasingly individualistic, relativistic, and morally bankrupt. People are told to make decisions that bolster their self-esteem regardless of the effect that it has upon others. People grab as much as they can without considering society as a whole. In many ways, prayer in recognition of the glory and majesty of the Creator has been replaced by requests for stuff, if we pray at all. We bow down and worship television, sports, books, iPhones, celebrities, sex, drugs, rock and roll, and a host of other things. We have forgotten where, or perhaps Who, we have come from.
Because we have forgotten where we have come from, because our biblical worldview has been slowly replaced by a secular worldview grounded in relativism and naturalism, we are seeing a marked societal downgrade. Children are being killed in the womb and outside of it. Murders are happening in the streets. Boys and girls of all ages are being trafficked throughout the country to serve the insatiable desires of the flesh. Television shows glorify premarital and extramarital sex, alcohol and drug use, and ultraviolence. Individual and corporate debt has skyrocketed and one wonders if America will ever be able to repay the debt that grows day by day. In many ways, we have moved far from our foundation.
Guns are not the core issue. The economy is not the core issue. The environment, healthcare, immigration are not the core issues. If we treat any of these as ultimate issues rather than symptoms of a larger problem, we drift from a biblical worldview. If we stay adrift as we currently are, we can anticipate a further decline in social and individual morality. More crime, more corruption, more pain. God gives people over to their passions and a failure to turn to Him may result in getting exactly what we think we want.
Chuck Colson once said, "where is the hope? The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things we do as a nation, our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. That's where our hope is in this country, that's where our hope is in life." Friends, as you choose your pet cause, understand that shalom, the peace of God, will only happen consistently with a robust biblical worldview.