Please forgive me for the length of this post, but this is a word God has burned into my heart for several years and I cannot contain it any longer. Please read this in a sprit of prayer.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will 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.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
I am deeply concerned about my country, the United States of America. I love America, I am grateful for the freedoms and the opportunities we enjoy here. I love my country, but I am grieved by the depravity and sinfulness that has taken hold in America. We live in an age when men “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). I love my country, but I am heartbroken over the direction our nation is heading. But the truth is, I don’t believe all the blame lies in our nation’s leading men and women. I believe much of the blame can be cast at the feet of the church in America.
Please understand, I love church. I am a church-girl from the cradle-roll in my family’s Baptist church in Copperas Cove, Texas to now teaching Bible classes in several churches in North Florida. I love the community in church, sitting in a Sunday School class learning together, singing hymns and praise songs with the congregation, and visiting together over a covered-dish meal. I love to hear the Word of God from the pulpit, and the “Amens” across the sanctuary (and adding a few of my own). I love church. But somewhere along the way, churches in this country shifted their focus and their message, and the ripples have touched every aspect of society. And what we didn’t realize until now is that the effects would be slow in coming, but they would come with a vengeance.
Look with me at a Bible passage that illustrates what I mean. Please take a few moments and read 2 Samuel 21:1-14, and allow me to give you a little background.
When Israel finally came into Canaan, the Promised Land, God instructed them not to make a treaty with any of the neighboring tribes, but one group, the Gibeonites, put together a deceptive ruse and tricked Israel into making a treaty of peace with them, and they became a “vassal” nation, under the authority – and protection – of Israel. It was a costly mistake, and a good post for another day. What’s important here is that the first king of Israel, Saul, had “tried to annihilate them.” This broke the word of Israel, which God took very seriously. Fast-forward several years now to the reign of King David. The passage tells us that a famine hit Israel, and after three long years, David finally inquired of the Lord. The answer was that God was punishing Israel for Saul’s actions against Gibeon. Here is one truth you can take to the spiritual bank: “We reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow.” The Gibeonites demanded seven of King Saul’s descendants, whom they hung in retribution.
I am not an expert, by any stretch, of how to manage a church. I don’t pretend to have a lot of answers, but I have become a passionate student of the Word of God and of church history, and I know that somewhere the heart and mission of the church got lost in our attempts to be “all things to all people” and be “culturally relevant.” Jesus Christ gave the church its mission: “Go and make disciples of all nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19). The mission of the church is three-fold: make disciples, which comes from proclaiming the message of the Gospel; baptize, which is the outward evidence of an inward decision; and teach them to obey God’s Word, which is a life-long process. Make no mistake, we need to feed the hungry, to care for the lonely, to protect the oppressed, because these are the things Jesus did when He walked this earth. But His chief ministry was “to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’” (Matthew 4:19). His mission was to “come into the world as a light” (John 12:46) and “to save [the world]” (John 12:47). This must be the focus of the church, to shine the light of Truth into a dark world, and show the Way to eternal Life (ref. John14:6).
There is no question, society has changed. What once was an accepted biblical worldview, has become a self-centered perspective – a “what’s in it for me?” philosophy of life. It has permeated the church and its teachings. As society became more fixated on the psychology of life, the church’s message shifted as well. “Sermons stressed the Bible’s application to day-to-day life.” The focus became “right living” without an effort to “right thinking.” Rather than teaching the undiluted Living Word of the Living God, the Bible is approached in a self-focused way, “What does this passage mean for me? The church began to see the Bible as a “self-help” tool, rather than the Holy Word of the Divine God. Slowly, imperceptibly, culture and society began to have more influence in the church than the Word and the Son of God. Like the frog in the stew pot, the changes came so slowly- a compromise here, a minor re-wording there – the frog didn’t perceive the danger until it became too late.
But I don’t believe it is too late. I believe there is still hope for the church. I believe the church can be restored. And when the church once again becomes the Spirit-filled, biblically sound Body of the Lord Jesus Christ, I believe America can be healed. Look at 2 Samuel 21:14 again: “After that, God answered prayer on behalf of the land.” God can do it again in America, but it will take a spirit of repentance in the church. It will take Christians humbly confessing how far we have drifted from the center of God’s Word and His will. It will require us to cry out in repentance and restore the Cross of Christ and the Bible to the heart of the church. It will mean individual believers taking an honest look in the mirror and confessing our own self-centered lives and apathy towards the things of God.
The day is soon – very soon – coming when God’s people in America will face suffering and persecution, just as we see across the globe. If the church is going to stand in the face of this persecution, Christians like you and me, must “humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways.” I want my country to know the God I serve, to know the Savior I love, and the peace, hope and purpose that can only be found through Him. If I want to impact change in my nation, I have to start in my church, and in my own heart. I am willing. I am committed to pray, to confess my selfish nature, to encourage a spirit of repentance in my church and to pray for a true revival of God’s Holy Spirit to sweep through like never before. Will you join me? Will you humbly seek God’s face in confession and repentance and pray for revival in your church and in churches across the nation? America will never know God unless the church once again shines His light into the darkness.
I pray, Lord Jesus, send a revival in the church. Change your church today so that You can use us tomorrow. I am the church Lord, start in my heart. I confess my sin and selfishness to You. I confess my attraction to the world and how it has distracted me from Your mission. I confess my willingness to settle for a “self-help” book rather than the Living Word of the Living God. Begin a revival in me Lord. Amen.
 Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, (La Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 2009), 388.
 Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language; Third Ed., (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2008), 480.