In my 3.5+ decades of life on earth, I have lived through a few “national crises”. Some things I would not label so much as a “national” crisis but more of a conservative crisis. That is, for example, things like what we are dealing with right now with the so-called “Respect for Marriage” Act which is a “national” crisis actually, but really political, social, and theological moderates and liberals don’t see it as such.
Anyway, I have lived through, though largely on the outside of, events like 9/11, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricanes and Tornadoes, the Housing crash of 2008, Obergefell, riots and protests, shootings, COVID-19, expansion of abortion, the swift increase of transgenderism, Drag-queen story hours, election shenanigans, and the rapid decline of sexual morality. I am sure there are other things I could add to the list.
But here is what I have learned in my limited life experience in this nation: There is nothing, no ethical downgrade, no pandemic, no tragedy, no financial disaster, there is just nothing that will meaningfully provoke moral conservatives to commit their lives to the very thing that actually changes nations – I am talking about the local church.
9/11, Covid, rampant sexual immorality, violence, defunding the police…None of these things have made a tangible difference in the lives of people who claim to desire God’s blessing upon our Nation. Yes, people have been rightly outraged. Yes, people have gotten into political spats on social media or gone out to vote or refused to get a vaccine or what have you. Sure. Maybe you consider those “tangible” differences but I don’t because they are not lasting differences when separated from the local church.
What I mean is, none of these “national crises” ever push people into selling out for the cause of Christ in the local church. At best they might help some people dabble a little more here and there.
But when you read the New Testament rightly, you see that Christianity is not something the people of the first century simply added to their hectic lives. It wasn’t something that people decided they would merely “attend to” once a week or so. Rather, it was something that completely reoriented their lives around a new set of values and community in, by, with, and for the local church where they sought to continue to know Christ, grow in Him, and make Him known.
You see, so many of my friends and fellow Arkansans, and people in the Bible belt, and professing Christians all of the United States…So many of them claim to be “concerned” about the state of our country when their local church has, say, 200+ meetings a year (when you add up Sunday School, Sunday Morning, Sunday Night, and Wednesday Night each week), and they make maybe half of those at best – At best! And those are the “committed” Christians in our country.
Of course, it’s more than just “going” to your local church’s meetings. There ought to be an involvement in the life and ministry–fellowship, evangelism, mission endeavors, teaching and training, meals, discipleship, etc.–of the local church that takes priority over many of our other pastimes. But it just doesn’t happen.
The “committed” Christians in America are exhausted and worn out because of how many extracurricular hobbies/events/entertainment/extra jobs for retirement/etc. they have built their lives around, including youth sports/activities. These things have consumed the lives of conservatives to the neglect of the local church.
And then we face a national tragedy, bad election, pandemic, or recession. And then we get conservative sorrow or outrage. Which, by the way, I think we should have these appropriate reactions to our Nation’s failings. The problem is, however, that these crises do not result in conservatives reorienting their lives around the very thing the gospel has brought forth: the local church.
Instead, we think political strategy – which again, Christians can and should be involved in political strategy, but never at the expense of a love for and viable commitment to the local church.
There are many things we ought to learn from these crises in our Nation. And there are many responses we ought to give. But one thing we must learn and one response we must give is to wake up and commit ourselves wholesale to Christ’s church. Any response we give without that response is ultimately going to fail at fixing the issues in our country. The greatest problem in America today is that it is full of a vast number of unregenerate souls who have been living on borrowed capital from Christians in generations past. But those days are running out rather quickly. The soul of our nation is in the souls of the people and these souls need to be born again. And the only way that happens is through the heralding of the gospel. And the only way the heralding of the gospel happens as it ought is through the ministry of local churches. Every day you refuse to yield to that truth, and refuse to give toward that cause in your time, money, and gifting, every second you waste in prioritizing so many things in your life about the local church, is precious time squandered that ought to be used for the glory and honor of Christ. Furthermore, not only is it time wasted, it also winds up putting you in the way of the church’s mission as your lack of involvement only weighs upon the church instead of aiding her forward.
If you have made it this far in reading, ask yourself this question: “Am I on the Lord’s side?” If the answer is yes, repent of your neglect, trust God’s grace, and reprioritize your life around Christ’s church. This will not be easy for you as you have indulged your flesh for so long, but enough is enough. Christ is worthy of healthy churches and He is worthy of you repenting of any idolatry and slothfulness and committing yourself to the His cause. Your friends, neighbors, children, and grandchildren matter enough for you to quit with your mere “outrage” and plug into the cause of honor and truth, and glory in the ministry of the local church. God’s grace is sufficient for you friend! Do not let the Evil One distract or misguide you! Pick up the Good Book and you will see that I am right. If God is at the center of your life, the local church will be one of the highest priorities in your life. Repent and ask the Lord to help you seek first the Kingdom of Christ.
And if you ask yourself, “Am I on the Lord’s side?” and the answer is “no”, you must repent and believe the gospel before the Lord brings upon you His terrible and swift judgment. There is mercy today if you will turn to Christ! Do not delay.