"Let everyone who is Godly pray to you while you may be found" (Psalm 32:6)
By Cutting the Roots of Our Christian Heritage
By PASTOR JOHN ANDERSON
"Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day . . . If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed" (Deuteronomy 8:11 and 14).
I recall the morning when my school opened in the fall of 1954. As was customary, students stood to salute the flag. Our teacher said, "Students, from now on we are to say the Pledge of Allegiance with two added words, 'under God.' They'll come right after 'one nation.'" And that's how we recited it. I don't recall any problems or any national furor.
Earlier that year Congress and President Eisenhower had added the two words. And on Flag Day, June 14, President Eisenhower had led the nation in repeating the revised pledge. Two years later on July 30, 1956, Congress and Mr. Eisenhower officially made "In God We Trust" our national motto (it had been on our money since the presidency of Abraham Lincoln).
These two actions, naturally reflecting our Christian heritage, again affirmed that God - the God of the Bible - was our national Sovereign!
What a sea change has transpired in our beloved America in just some 45 years! Today, can any of us imagine the Congress, the President of the United States, or any politician seriously proposing adding "under God" to our Pledge or making "In God We Trust" our nation motto? It wouldn't happen. We've become too embarrassed and too hostile toward our Christian heritage.
How discomfiting must the absolute principles found in our Declaration of Independence be to those who prefer moral ambivalence to moral clarity. Principles such as "self-evident truths" and "unalienable rights" or the concepts of a "Creator" and a "people created" are disdainful to them.
How uncomfortable must the preamble to our Constitution be to those who are pushing our society down the slippery slope toward ever bigger government and socialistic values: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America."
Look back at the last twenty years of the 18th Century when our Constitution was written. Consider how revolutionary the idea was then of "We, the people" establishing and ordaining a government, in a day when monarchy was the political system, kings were sovereign and people were subjects! It was an amazing step our forefathers took.
"We, the people" is a founding principle in America, meaning a sovereign people, not a sovereign government. With civil government receiving its power from the people, its purpose is to secure human rights that are ordained by God. How many of us understand this when big government is standing the principle on its head?
However, evidence of our Christian roots abounds: The Library of Congress has a multitude of Scripture verses on display; Each session of the U.S. Supreme Court opens with the cry, "God save the United States and this Honorable Court"; On the stairwell walls within the Washington Monument are inscribed "Holiness to the Lord" and "Search the Scriptures;" Engraved at the top of the stairwell is "Praise the Lord;" Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" is enshrined on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial and found in it are the words, "This nation under God;" Among Lincoln's speeches engraved on the walls of the Memorial are references to "God," "the Almighty," and "the Bible;" When a president-elect is inaugurated, he places his hand on a Bible as he takes the Oath of Office and concludes the oath with the words, "So help me God;" A bronze plaque in the Dirksen Office Building of the U.S. Congress has the words "In God We Trust." And on and on.
Sadly, America is foolishly rejecting its vows to honor God, cutting itself from its heritage - a heritage that no other nation has ever had. We are pushing God away and removing Him from virtually every area of our national life. We almost seem on a rampage to become atheistic. Billy Graham said, "We talk of God, but we often act as though we are atheists. We have developed a sort of dual personality, a schizophrenia. We have 'In God We Trust' on our coins, but 'Me First' engraved on our hearts."
We are cutting our Christian roots under the delusion that we can do so with impunity. But Thomas Jefferson said, "Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?"
It reminds us of the words of Irish philosopher Edmund Burke, "The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts." And the words of Lord Chesterfield that "...arbitrary power ... must be introduced by slow degrees, and as it were, step by step, lest the people should see it approach."
We need to re-connect with our heritage, recapture the value system we were built on, and once more celebrate being "under God." And we need to teach all this to our children. Steven Muller said, "Failure to rally around a set of values means that we are turning out highly skilled barbarians. Society as a whole is turning out barbarians because of the discarding of the value system it was built on."
And Muller added, "To restore its lost value system, America would have to return to its faith in God. There can be no value system where there is no supreme value that transcends man's natural self-centeredness, where one man's values are esteemed as good as another's."
To be sure, since Sept. 11 we have seen a change. Flags are flying. "God bless America" signs are everywhere. It's a good beginning. However, let the revival go on. Let us determine that our national recognition of God will be more than a hollow profession and our pledge to being "under God" will not become perjury and blasphemy. Let us wholeheartedly return to the Lord in humble repentance.
What if we do not seek the Lord and instead go on in dissociating ourselves from Him? What if we continue to say to God, "Get out! We do not want You in our country?" What if God takes us at our word, and leaves us, "gives us up," to use the phrase from Romans 1? Why should He not do so?
What if "In God We Trust" is replaced with "Ichabod" - "the glory has departed"?
I have given my wife, Esther, flowers. I have given her flowers she can put in a vase with water. Also, I have given her flowers in a flowerpot where they are growing. There is a difference. In the flowerpot, the flowers are connected to their roots; in the vase, they are not. No matter how those cut flowers are watered and cared for, they will eventually die.
It's paramount we discern, as in the words of Jefferson quoted earlier, whether we have removed the conviction that the great gift of America, with its liberties, abundant resources and heritage, is the gift of God. We'd better determine this, because there are many in this nation who are obsessed to sever the conviction that what we have is the gift of God. If they are successful, then, like cut flowers, such a severed nation will die.
A dead nation? America? Judgment?
Sadly... Yes. Yes. Yes.
Let us pray together: Our gracious Lord, everything we have is from You. And You have given us America, its founding principles, its Constitution, its liberties, its magnificent beauty and lavish resources. Forgive us for not thanking You and for cutting ourselves from You and our heritage. We repent. May our nation return to You. In your mercy would you grant us a deep spiritual awakening to sweep from the White House to our house to every house. In the Name of Jesus, Your Son, and our Savior and Lord. Amen."
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