[W]e try to persuade others (2 Corinthians 5:11 NIV).
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our nation it comes
at a time when many are concerned about the direction of our country.
The shared assumptions of the past (the values of the Judeo-Christian tradition)
are no longer the glue that holds us together. Instead, we’re increasingly a
society of strongly differing assumptions about how we are to live. The new
normal involves creating space for people to be true to their assumptions.
This is a very different way of being a country, and
people on both sides are struggling with it. There is a desire to push the
other side to conform to a set of values and assumptions that are not their own.
This spells disaster.
From the beginning, Christianity was not about coercion.
It was about persuasion (see verse above). This is because God looks at
the heart. He is not impressed with mere outward conformity for appearances
sake. He seeks to transform the whole person.
Though it may be difficult dealing with such rapid change,
this really creates an opportunity for the church. The church in America is
being purged of much of its mere externalism. This means that those who
remain in the church are increasingly those who are serious about their faith. This
can only mean a stronger, more vibrant church, and the opportunity to be a stronger
witness to those on the outside.
I believe we must convince our fellow citizens that our
history of religious freedom is the answer to today’s culture war. Forcing
others to conform to our values simply won’t work and will further divide us as
a nation. We must allow either side to follow their consciences, within reason,
trusting that over time one side will be more persuasive because of the life
they embody, a life which flows from the values and assumptions of that particular group.
I believe Christian values and assumptions will prevail
over the long term. They have proven themselves over the course of history,
eventually defeating even the pagan world of the Greeks and Romans, but this
didn’t happen overnight. It took patience on the part of the Christians,
trusting that God is in charge no matter what they saw in their particular day.
Today, love of country means patiently trusting God while
we seek to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. It means, like God,
allowing people to take paths that we know are not the best for them, because
we recognize that real life change is a matter of the heart, a matter of
becoming persuaded. The best thing we can do for our country and
others is to embody the way of life that flows from our commitment to Jesus
Christ. It’s in this way we can show others the truth that Jesus is indeed the
path to lasting peace and true prosperity, a prosperity that begins in the
Praying God’s best for you and for our country!