Found a thought I wrote in my personal journal last summer that I would like to expand into a blog post for you. Here’s the beginning of what I wrote last July….
“This week as I write we are blessed by bright blue skies, very low humidity, and temperatures that will barely reach 80 ˚F. Pleasantly different from the stifling heat waves we often get in July here in New Jersey……”
At that time, I was writing some devotions on the Parable of the Sower, but I glanced at some other parables and was struck by how Jesus often says, “The Kingdom of God is like……” Several of these “like” parables show the way the kingdom of God is often hidden and yet has a quiet power. A great example of this is the Parable of the Leaven.
Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Matthew 13:33)
Sometimes I hear people complain “We used to have a Christian country…..but not any more”. I won’t try to settle the argument here of how Christian we used to be, but right now it sure does seem that Christian influence in our culture is decreasing rather than increasing.
What is our response? In the U.S., what is the connection between Christianity and the red white and blue? Does scripture encourage us to try to dominate the culture? Or does it challenge us to exert a more effective behind-the-scenes influence in our families, jobs, and neighborhoods?
Consider Paul’s request:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Corinthians 2:1-4)
Does Paul urge us “To live lives that are filled with anger and protest at our corrupt culture?”
No! Look at how prayer is directed here. Are we praying to take over? Not at all, we are praying that we may be able to live a peaceful quiet life in godliness and holiness. And what is the result? A Christian takeover? No, somehow the lives we live should allow people to get to know the truth and to get saved.
Ironically, there’s a way in which being less of a “Christian country” can be an encouragement to us. For then, we have something in common with the very first Christians. They were not getting into fights with the power players who were running society, but they impressed many outsiders with the love and courage they showed in their lives.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)
Maybe we should think of these believers who lived in a pagan country the next time we start to rant, embittered at all the things going on in our country that we do not like. Might our country change in a rant-free way, from the bottom up, through the influence of many changed lives, people getting saved and then living quietly but powerfully for the Lord?