Ed Vitaglianoafa Executive Vice-President
American Family Association
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With a nation in near moral collapse and a church that is struggling to be salt and light, what should Bible-believing Christians do? How should they respond? Here are some helpful glimpses from Scripture. (Part one can be found here.)
Remember that anger does not cure the disease.
Of course, many Christians are paying attention to what is happening in America. During this period in our nation’s history when wickedness seems triumphant on every side, many in the church are taking it to heart.
In times like these, it isn’t easy to keep our grief from turning into anger. After all, the Psalmist says, “Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law” (Psalm 119:53).
There is a place for such righteous indignation, because when anger flows out of holiness, humility, and biblical clarity, it is prophetic in nature.
At the same time, however, we must remember that the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God – and righteousness is what this nation lacks.
It says in James 1:19-22:
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
At one time or another, we’ve all probably attempted to berate someone into the kingdom of heaven. It’s frustrating to know people who are destroying their own lives or stubbornly refusing the love of the Savior. We want to shake them and scream, “What is wrong with you? Can’t you see what you’re doing? Don’t you see what’s happening here?”
No, they don’t – and neither did we when we were lost. I’m guessing we didn’t respond too well to angry denunciations when they were hurled at us, either.
Instead, James indicates that, rather than use the impotent tactic of personal anger, Christians should endeavor to live holy lives, be humble, allow the word of God to do its work in our own hearts, and obey it. A personal witness that flows out of this lifestyle will undoubtedly be much more effective.
Intercede for the lost.
Christians must pray for our sin sick nation, and we must pray for the lost. Most believers probably have been taught at least the rudimentary principles of such intercession.
However, we tend to think of intercession only in terms of prayer. Intercession is prayer, but more generally it is the priestly position we occupy between God and the lost. This is why we pray for people – whether or not they know we’re doing it and even if they would resent us for doing so. It is because we occupy this priestly position that we pray. We represent the lost – and the nation – before the face of God as we intercede for them.
One of the most famous passages revealing this truth is found in Ezekiel 22:30-31, which states:
‘I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,’ declares the Lord God.
God looked for people – even a single individual – who would stand before Him and intercede that the Lord would have mercy. The amazing thing about these verses is that it is clear God would have spared the land if someone would have prayed! However, because no one interceded, judgment came.
We also intercede on behalf of God, representing Him to the sinner. In an equally powerful passage in the New Testament, Paul explains that Christians are ambassadors in the earth for Jesus Christ, “as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
It might be strange for some Christians to see the apostle speak of such divine compassion for the lost. Far too often, too many of us think of God as an indifferent and implacable judge, holding the gavel high, prepared to render final judgment, sternly warning the sinner to “turn or burn” while they still have time.
Instead, Paul portrays God as pleading with the lost – and the Christian as begging on behalf of Jesus – that they be reconciled.
Gently but firmly stand for the truth.
Once we have our attitudes right and we possess a clearer understanding of our calling, the Christian must proceed with the task of expressing the truth of God in every situation where opportunity exists.
In 2 Timothy 2:23-26, Paul makes the case once again about the Christian’s proper attitude. We must not be argumentative, and our truth-telling must be out of a “kind” demeanor, it must be “patient,” and it must be characterized by “gentleness.”
However, far too many Christians have fallen for the lie that they must choose between exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit and preaching the truth. Kindness, patience, gentleness, love – none of these Christian characteristics diminish our responsibility to tell the truth. In other words, speaking God’s word is not unkind or hateful.
Instead, Christians are called to teach and correct “those who are in opposition” (v. 25). The “knowledge of the truth” is the proper avenue to salvation and spiritual freedom. In fact, Paul suggests that this combination of truth and love is the only way to repentance. It is the only pathway for sinners to “come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (vs. 26).
Also note that the believer must remain focused like a laser on the goal of preaching the gospel and speaking God’s truth. Paul warns us to avoid getting sidetracked in things that don’t matter – “foolish and ignorant speculations” – because they only cause fruitless arguments.
Perhaps America is in the state she is in, at least in part, because Christians have not remained focused like a laser on declaring God’s truth.
Editor’s Note: This series will continue with this writer’s next blog.