It seems America has lost its way. Amid the din and chatter in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, on the heels of Aurora, and between the lines of everyday news stories of earthquakes, floods, death, and disasters, there is a gray cloud darkening over our nation.
The rain is coming. Surely, the rain is coming!
The promises from our politicians have never been emptier, never more vain. We stagger from one disaster to the next, looking for answers. We used to ask “Why?” Now, we simply ask “How?” How do we move forward?
Hundreds of ideas are offered. Thousands of voices speak. Most people look to government for immediate solutions. Their hope is that Uncle Sam will save the day through better social institutions in education and health. America will be better when she “makes” herself better and safer. Together, they will say, we can create a better home by lifting our collective selves up by the bootstraps.
But that is not, nor has it ever been, the strength of our nation. Our government has a greater workforce with greater tools, serving larger institutions in health and education than ever in our history. Yet, they have failed to curb the hostile events of madmen and nature.
America has lost its way, not because we lack resources or ability, but because we have forsaken our spiritual center. For all of our history, the one institution that has been at the very core of our national being has been the Christian church! Certainly churches came in different shapes and sizes, with varying creeds and traditions, but it was the place America turned to when crisis visited our shores.
From the night Paul Revere hung that lantern in the steeple of a church in Boston, people have symbolically looked to that institution and her leaders for hope beyond politics, beyond economics, beyond the theorems of university professors and social pundits. America looked to the pulpits of her churches and to the pages of Scripture to maintain its core values.
Alexis de Tocqueville once said of our nation:
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, and it was not there. I sought for it in the fertile fields, and boundless prairies, and it was not there. I sought it in her rich mines, and vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.”
Over the past several weeks, millions have cast their eyes and ears on the heart-wrenching scenes that flowed out of Newtown: little children in little caskets, with mourners in great sorrow overflowing churches. We all participated, in a fragmented way, in their church services and shared in their sorrows.
While that was healing and healthy, the question remains, did we go to church the next Sunday? There is no doubt that someone can have a relationship with God through Jesus outside of church attendance, but that relationship is meant to grow and blossom within the embrace of God’s people.
America needs revival and we would do well to begin it by getting back to church. It is there that God’s shepherds can guide us with comforting words of Scripture, to convict us when we stray from God’s paths, and instruct us on who God is and what He has done for us.
It’s time, America, to get back to church. That is where true community can be realized. That is where lonely boys and girls can find friendships and values to shape their world. That is the place where hope can be restored and lasting joy realized. Churches still come in different shapes and sizes, with different creeds and customs, but if they are offering salvation through Jesus, teaching the Scriptures faithfully, and expressing their collective faith in ways that bless the downtrodden and honor God—then there is a seat in that house, God’s house, for you!
Yes, the rain is coming. But there is shelter from the storm. It’s time to get back to church, America!
This September, we will be hosting a live event in thousands of churches across our nation. It’s called Harvest America. On that day, we will declare the essentials of the Christian faith and invite thousands to come into a relationship with Jesus. It will be an opportunity to come back to church and turn our nation back to God. I hope you’ll join us.