“No Longer a Christian Nation”

Perhaps you’ve heard one or more of these statements:

“America is a Christian Nation”
“America is a God-Fearing Nation”

Actually, neither statement is totally true. If so, God would prefer one nationality or people group over another. I for one am glad that my country cannot inherently impose a “religious” control over my identity. If it could, I believe such reality would cheapen the value of faith in God altogether! What is true is that our founding Fathers did; on the whole, have reverence for God!

Certainly, freedom of religion in America was never codified in such fashion that all citizens had to be Christian. For that matter, there is no law that any American has to be deeply religious! However, it is fair to say that, for most of her history this nation has been described as having a dominant level of its religious influence from a Christian cultural ethic. The Bible has long been regarded as the religious work of prime influence in this nation’s framework and cultural infrastructure.

That having been said, there are no laws or legal precedents which would codify a particular sect of religion as a control factor in our national ethic going forward into the future. As a devoted follower of Jesus Christ; in some ways, my heart grieves over that reality. In other ways my thoughts are being challenged as to the opportunities this reality might present.

I grew up in what was known culturally as the “Bible belt.” Frankly, the immense impact of Christianity upon my southern culture was outwardly delightful. However; as I’ve contemplated what being a genuinely born again, follower of Jesus Christ actually entails, I wonder if the religious façade of my upbringing may be somewhat counter active to what Jesus actually came to do! Within the NT, there is no sign of Jesus trying to make the government of His generation – religious. Please don’t get me wrong! The protection of religious freedom in government law is wonderful. However, the purpose of the work of Jesus was not to put a sheen or veneer upon the outer appearances of an individual, community, society or culture. He came to give people life and life more abundantly. Frankly, it was easy to be a “Christian” in my world.  It still is. However, Jesus did not come to create a “civil” religion. In fact, I do not believe that He is impressed with its existence.

If He came to “give” life, there must be some barriers to us regarding what true life is and what power for change is invested from heaven into our humanness. A human government can give us political freedom and empowerment; however, said government cannot set the sinful heart and soul of man free.

ONLY A VIABLE AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH
JESUS CHRIST AS SAVIOR AND LORD CAN DO THAT!

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Judge Not

“I’m not judgmental”!  “I’m not prejudiced”!  “I love everybody”!  Such protestations are not uncommon for most of us.  Perhaps we can make those declarations with some level of confidence!  However, we must evaluate just how honest our self-appraisal actually is.  If others observe us closely in various public or social settings, would they validate our claims?  Perhaps they may in ideal situations or circumstances!  However, let the environment or situation seem uncertain, intimidating to our comfort level or saturated with unfamiliar behaviors or customs; our prejudicial thoughts may quickly break the surface.

For the most part, I do believe that I have substantially won the battle with racial prejudice!  However, it would be very unwise for me to claim total freedom and purity of heart in that realm.  All it takes is a current event news story with a negative portrayal of people groups or organizations I have no affinity with or no meaningful involvement with on a regular basis, and hidden bias bubbles up toward the surface.

I believe the greatest contributor to the malaise of social prejudice is ignorance.  Of course, ignorance is propagated through behavior.  When one group of people feel judged or mistreated by another group, there is an inherent backlash of mistrust and dislike.  Such feelings or behaviors tolerated or nurtured for an extended period eventually become engrafted into the social fiber of society.

So how do we improve the social ethic of culture and society regarding racial misunderstanding and tension?  The only real solution is that we begin to do life together.  I mean, really do life together.  We must work side by side.  We must socialize cross culturally.  We must meet and engage with each other’s family and friends.  We must connect with one another in significant life transitions.  We have to go through hardships and pain together.

Actually, we have a great case study available to us, should we wish to engage it and thoroughly research its intricacies.  It is found in the Bible and it is known specifically as the New Testament portion of Holy Scripture.  Even more specifically it can be tracked closely, starting with the book of Acts and moving to the end of the Book of Revelation.

God chose a Jewish purist – a radicalized Pharisee named Saul.  He transformed his life and his values completely through a personal encounter, followed by a lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  As a precursor to what the life and ministry of Saul who became better known by his Roman name – Paul, the Lord God started the prejudice fight and make over with a radicalized zealot named Simon Peter.  These men’s stories demonstrate the life changing, culture challenging, world transforming life available to all of us through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord!

A faith based relationship with Jesus Christ truly does make all things new!

Pastor Chris