their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14
We are about seven weeks, as of this writing, from a presidential election with profound ramifications for our nation. The question American voters must ask themselves is what is it they want for their nation: a continuation of the policies of the previous eight years or the possibility of substantive change in areas as diverse as the economy, immigration (both legal and illegal), foreign trade, and taxes.
In the book of Daniel, chapter four, the prophet was speaking with Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, and he made the following observation: "...in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men" (v. 17). In other words, not only does God's throne supersede earthly thrones (i.e., positions of power), but He gives nations the leadership they deserve.
I remember reading a column by Charlie Reese (one of my favorite political columnists, now retired) back during the scandal involving President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. He noted that you can't get a clean pail of water out of a dirty river. That was an insightful observation. The President's behavior, deplorable as it was, largely mirrored the moral standard of the nation (which has only continued to decline since that time).
What our nation needs, as never before in its history, is not a new political philosophy; it needs for God's people--Christians--to get serious about their service to their Lord. That is exactly what God explained to Israel in the verse from 2 Chronicles quoted at the top.
I have been in pastoral ministry and Christian education (both secondary and college) for over thirty years. Prior to that, I spent twelve years as a state trooper. I have been working with drug and alcohol addicts the past four years. I read constantly. My experience has given me what I think is a pretty good perspective on the lives and habits of Christians. A baby boomer, I have watched our nation go through some profound changes. Simultaneously, I have seen the influence of Christians and the Church slipping. Most young people--Millenials and Gen X--show relatively little interest in Christianity, and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of the past several generations of Christians. Our current state didn't suddenly appear out of nowhere; the seeds were sown decades ago. It would be easy to place the blame on scapegoats such as Hollywood and public education--and they certainly deserve a portion of the blame--but the real problem lies in our disobedience to God's command to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds" - Romans 12:2.
I was the secondary principal of a Christian school for four years, from 2007-2011. I put together a class for each year's senior class which I named Practical Christianity. I took a survey each year, asking my students a variety of questions. One had to do with what they hoped to do with their lives. Out of approximately 180 students, I recall only three who expressed any desire or intention to serve the Lord in some form of full-time ministry. Please don't misunderstand: I think only a relatively small minority of Christians are called to full-time ministry. But that isn't the point. What most of my students indicated was they wanted some sort of profession or position where they could make large amounts of money and live comfortable lives. That disturbs me. One of the chief sins of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was excessive affluence. (It was not homosexuality as some people think. Rampant sexual immorality is one of the final indications of a nation that has fallen into deep spiritual decline). Colossians 3:5 describes covetousness as a form of idolatry. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 warns us against the pursuit of wealth and possessions, the end result of which is to "fall into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition."
It will only be--if indeed it ever occurs--when God's people make His priorities their priorities, when we seek Him with a whole heart, that our nation will have any chance of recovery. Echoing the prayer of Daniel, we must admit that "we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments...O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day..." - Daniel 9:5,7.