I have written previously about Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1836 observation that America’s unique strength was how Judeo-Christian faith and values were woven deeply and inexorably into the multi-faceted quilt of our society. People might differ on the details of worship, or on specific laws, but the underlying foundation for any discussion was a nearly universal belief in the God of the Bible as the Creator and Sustainer of all people, and particularly of this nation.
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – 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. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
Seven generations later, we may have lost that critical foundation forever, or we may be able to restore it. The future of our nation hangs in the answer.
As Christians, I believe that we should focus more on reweaving our faith back into the culture than on passing “religious” laws. The latter seem destined only to make some of us feel temporarily better, while alienating those whom we want to influence for Christ. I believe that we are called to be salt and light, not to pass laws (with the one exception being abortion, because its consequences are irreversible).
So how do we go about “reweaving our faith back into the culture”? What do we actually do to impact all the individuals who, woven together, make up our nation?
What follows is a list of reweaving action steps that I hope each of us will consider, based on our God-given gifts, dispositions, and talents. The goal is not for us to help God with our hard work, but for God to work His purposes through the unique talents He has given to each of us.
And, by the way, that is why we were not just born, but born again. As David Cooper of Mount Paran Church reminded me the other day, His workmanship in us has a specific purpose that He designed before time began.
Re-read Ephesians 2:8-10. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
So the list that follows is intended to help us find those actions which He has already designed for us.
First, there are two prerequisites for all other possible reweaving activities:
- Be daily in His Word You can’t pour life-giving water from a dry well.
- Pray daily and regularly. No other possible action listed below has the power of prayer to transform lives and relationships. Prayer is active, not passive. Note in Mark 9:29 that Jesus tells his disciples that a particularly powerful type of demon “can come out only by prayer.” Prayer also reminds us about the real nature of the battle and about who the real enemy is—not those who have been deceived by him.
Once you have spent time in the Word and prayed, then consider the following actions to strengthen our nation’s fabric, one person and family at a time.
- Personal testimony. Be prepared with a thirty second version and a three minute version. Nothing is more powerful, because no one can argue with your personal experience. And don’t worry about the exact words—the emphasis is on how God has transformed you, and your sincerity is what the listener will most remember. Never underestimate how God may have been working in someone’s life for several months, and therefore how your words, arriving exactly when they do, may powerfully impact them.
- Invite a friend or colleague to a Bible Study you attend. Again, you don’t know how this invitation may be perfectly timed to harvest seeds planted and watered by others over many months. Our job is not to worry about rejection, but to invite.
- Better yet, start a new Bible Study in your neighborhood or office. Don’t worry, you will never feel that you are adequate, so just get over it. Whatever you know about the Bible is more than most people know. To make it really easy, get two short books by Rebecca Manley Pippert, How to Lead a Seeker Bible Discussion and Looking at the Life of Jesus. You are only asking them for a seven week commitment, and the stories from John are all easy to relate to. My advice is to first ask the “baddest, most unlikely” person, and then if he or she says Yes, use that person’s participation to ask others. It is amazing what you will learn through a Bible Study done with people who are for other reasons close to each other. If you get buy-in for a second seven weeks and run out of material, send me an e-mail and I’ll give you some additional resources. It’s actually great fun and will really grow your faith!
- Families are the strongest material for protecting our social fabric. If you are a husband/father, take responsibility for your servant leadership role, submitted to Christ as your own leader, and discuss with the other family members what that means. Please see my earlier blog posts on this subject at A Word is Sometimes Worth a Thousand Family Pictures and Where Have All the Fathers Gone?
- Tithe – demonstrate to your spouse and children that you walk the walk of truly trusting God in all things, starting with your finances. In Malachi 3 God says to bring in the “whole tithe”, which I think means to tithe from the gross. And He says to test Him in this one and only area. It takes faith, but I have found that God honors His promises. Our pastor, Michael Youssef, says that he has never seen a believer tithe himself into poverty. Just the opposite—He promises to “throw open the floodgates of Heaven”.
- Go beyond serving and servant leadership in the family, once you have that firmly in place, and add service in the community. Do something for others that fits your talents and your gifts. Pray and let Him work through you.
- Read books, both non-fiction and fiction, on relevant subjects, and then make a habit of giving them away, thereby starting conversations. Here are some suggestions:
The Reason for God Timothy Keller
When The Crosses Are Gone Michael Youssef
How the West Won Rodney Stark
God, I Don’t Understand Ken Boa
The Prodigal God Timothy Keller
Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis
If We Are the Light, Why Is America So Dark? Ted Sprague
Ten Lies and Ten Truths Parker Hudson
My First Thirty Quiet Times Ty Saltzgiver
Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam Robert Spencer
The Triumph of Faith Rodney Stark
Handbook to Spiritual Growth Ken Boa
On The Edge Parker Hudson
- Do the same with podcasts, blogposts and movies, like War Room and Amazing Grace. These resources allow you to leverage your own ability to do research or to tell stories, and can engage family members and friends in new ways. Try subscribing to my posts, and thereby also receive a free e-book.
- Engage in conversations with family members, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers. A great question to ask someone who asserts that his or her life and choices are just fine is, “How is that working out for you?” After asking it, be silent until the other person answers. He or she will often open a door of some size to a larger conversation.
- Be open to Kairos Moments, as Ken Boa describes them. When God gives you an unexpected and unplanned connection to, or time with, a person, be glad and invest in it. Don’t be upset or feel pushed. Instead, ask questions and try to discern what He has in mind. Have something on you, or in your car–a book, tract, wristband, CD, DVD–that you can then give them. Even if they disagree with your faith, they will never forget your kindness!
- In every conversation, push back against all lies, particularly about the family.
- Invite friends to church. We are called to worship the One True God. And support your Pastor—there is every reason to believe that persecution and prosecution for “hate speech”, now common in Western Europe, will intensify here, starting with churches and pastors. It will then spread to the hiring and firing of all individuals and vendors in every company and industry. They will accuse us of “hate speech” and do everything they can to silence us. Understand your rights for free religious expression, not just for worship in a building, and be prepared to defend them.