November 16 04
Hear some of the words from this song written by Keith Green in 1978: The song is called Asleep in the Light:
Do you see, do you see
"Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord"
The world is sleeping in the dark
...some sobering words from a quarter-century ago that we would do well to study.
With President Bush's re-election and with gay marriage in defeat, we may feel that we have accomplished the task. We have shown the world and our neighbors across the street that we are righteous. But have we accomplished the task? Have we restored America to its Christian heritage? The task is to make disciples and is not something accomplished at the ballot box. We must do the hard work. We must love our neighbor. Is America a Christian nation? We have a President who calls himself a Christian and, according to exit polls, 22% of voters cited "moral values" as the key to their vote. Some are rejoicing at that, but others would question why it is only 22%. If 80% of the American public claims the Christian faith, why would only 22% of the voters exercise that faith at the polls?
With Bush's re-election and gay marriage defeated, many have relaxed. They've gone back to sleep. They've pleased God by "voting their conscience." But now what? Where do we go from here? This is no time to go back to sleep. Christians must never sleep. But comfort has overtaken many. They look forward to another four years of Christendom. Many believe that God's will has been done because Bush is in the White House. All we know is that God has allowed Bush to retain his office. But does Bush's re-election signal God's blessing? I don't think so. You see, Christians wake up when the going gets tough. We grow under trials and tribulations. The Bible says that God disciplines those He loves. God's allowance of Bush's re-election may not be a blessing. It may be a test.
Think back in history. Remember Constantine? The year was 312. Constantine, a pagan, was Emperor of Rome. He had a vision (that many believe was from God) that he was to destroy his enemies in the name of Christ. From that point on, the pagan Roman Empire allowed one more god. The god of the Bible, the god of Christianity, the god known as Cristos, would now be allowed to be worshipped freely throughout the Empire. Some Christians looked on this as a blessing. How wonderful that they no longer had to worship in secret. Never mind that for almost three centuries Christianity grew exponentially under frequent persecution. No, now Christianity was acceptable. Now, according to Constantine, all citizens of the Empire were Christians.
Christianity was merged with paganism. Make no mistake: Just because Christianity was a state-sanctioned religion, this by no means reduced the worship of pagan gods. Romans continued to worship many gods, but now Jesus was just one among them. Christianity, from then on, was no longer a matter of the heart. Christianity no longer was defined by conversion and discipleship. Just about everyone in the Empire called himself a Christian. Everything was comfortable for the Christians. They had their rights, given to them by the state. It would be another 1100 years before any of the Reformers realized the mistake of Christendom. For eleven centuries, Rome would have its way before Reformers like John Hus came along and publicly questioned the idea that one could be a Christian simply because he lived under a "Christian" leader in a "Christian" country. But then Hus was burned at the stake for saying that Christianity is about conversion under the grace of God; that salvation was a matter of the heart -- a heart fully given over to God. And Rome steamrolled on.
And now here we are in America, rejoicing at the prospect of retaining our Christian rights as we live comfortably under a "Christian" leader in a "Christian" country. What a shame. We are more concerned about our rights and freedoms than we are about the Gospel. Are we living under a blessing now, or a curse? We have elected someone who calls himself a Christian and we have stopped those awful sinners from sinning too close to us. Now we can go back to our lives. We can go to church on Sunday and not worry about our right to worship being violated. But at what cost? If righteousness exalts a nation, what does that mean for America now that it seems the Church has won the victory? Shall America now be exalted because of our righteousness at the ballot box? No. Righteousness means not mixing the pagan with the sacred. It means not counting Jesus just one among our many gods -- gods like money, entertainment, pride, food -- you name it. Righteousness means doing the will of God -- loving people. All people. But most of all, righteousness is a state of being. Righteousness is imputed by God at the conversion of the soul. We are made righteous by the blood of Jesus. There isn't much righteousness in this nation, imputed or otherwise. If righteousness exalts a nation, we have no reason to say, "Bless me Lord." For any nation that is asleep in the light is not righteous and cannot be blessed. If God has allowed us freedom to preach the Gospel, we had better wake up and get to it. Will we pass the test?