19 Jan Has God Abandoned America?
Published January 19, 2021
By Stephen Davey, STM
Many have wondered if the moral decline in our society is evidence that God has given up on America. However, the very phrasing of that question “Has God abandoned America?” highlights the wrong perspective regarding God’s relationship to our country — or any country for that matter. America has no special relationship with God, but the people in America have the same opportunity as everyone else to become members of His redeemed family.
God’s invitation to Americans is the same invitation He has given to the citizens of every nation throughout human history. It is not a national invitation, but rather a personal one. God has not given up on any nation or people-group, and His invitation to all remains the same — and will remain the same — until the final judgement day recorded in Revelation 20.
Moral decline is not evidence of God’s abandonment, but it is certainly evidence of mankind’s wickedness. If moral decline were proof that God had abandoned a nation, God certainly would have abandoned the Ninevites. This nation was so brutal and immoral that the prophet Jonah preferred running away from preaching to them. When he finally did arrive, fresh from the Divine Whale Express, he simply proclaimed the word of the Lord and the king of Nineveh declared, “Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 3:8b-9).
The reference to God “giving over” an immoral person (Romans 1) is a reference to the fact that God simply allows someone to be simply abandoned to the consequences of immorality.
Moral decline is proof that our world needs God. It serves as a daily reminder for believers to shine the light of the gospel in the midst of increased darkness. Unfortunately, too many Christians have confused shining the light with winning a culture war.
As I’ve often said, a lighthouse never gets rid of a storm – it shines the light for wayward travelers to find their way home. The work of the church is not to engage in a war with wicked mankind, attempting to make bad people better; the work of the church is sharing the gospel and calling on individuals to turn to Jesus as their only hope.
When we remember that our calling is not to save America but to deliver the saving gospel to Americans, our mission is correctly reoriented with our calling from God. Paul never once railed against the immoral lifestyle of Emperor Nero in any of his New Testament epistles. But he did challenge his readers to live holy lives for the glory of God. Holy believers were, and are still today, the mightiest weapon in the battle for the souls of mankind. The best advertisement for the life-changing gospel of Christ is a changed life.
God always has been, is, and will continue to be sovereign over the state of our lives, our communities, and our nation. From before the beginning of the world, God knew when America would be established, what its physical borders would look like, and what its ultimate destiny will be. God is in control over it all. Paul preached that the very boundaries of a nation were predetermined by God, including the space they would occupy on the timeline of human history (Acts 17:26).
Instead of pinning all our hopes, as earthly citizens, on political leaders, we can trust in God, knowing that He controls the ultimate state of our union. And with our trust in His sovereign will, we can focus our lives, and the mission of the church, back where it belongs — proclaiming the gospel to our nation that desperately needs to hear it, believe it, and live it.
What Does the Bible Say About Politics?
If anyone in biblical history could have advocated for overthrowing their government, it was the apostle Paul. Living during the reign of the Emperor Nero, the church had zero representation in the Roman government, and experienced severe persecution at the order of Nero. Across the empire, the church had no legal protection or governmental support.
Rather than start a revolution or train believers in civil disobedience, Paul wrote a letter to the church with a very different tone. He wrote, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1).
In this simple yet profound verse, we can uncover godly wisdom concerning the proper relationship between church and government.
The Christian is to obey the civil laws of government, regardless of that government’s response to the gospel.
Paul did not say, “Only the authorities that support the gospel are instituted by God.” All authority is. The believer is not called to promote or undermine the authority God has instituted. Whether we like our civil authorities or not, we understand that God actually raised them up to fulfill His divine purposes for the world — which we may not see fulfilled in our lifetime!
A moral government or nation is not necessary to have a thriving church.
At the time Paul wrote this letter to Rome, pedophilia, adultery and idolatry were commonplace. Bisexuality was so widely encouraged that Emperor Nero himself openly consorted with men and women. It was in this immoral environment that Jesus planted His church. And to this day, the persecuted church all across the world continues to thrive in the midst of moral decay and darkness.
It is not necessary for the church to have freedom in order to be faithful.
Have you ever thought about the fact that here in America, where we have religious freedom, the percentage of self-identifying Christians is actually shrinking, while in persecuted places the gospel is multiplying rapidly? Our Great Commission from Christ is not dependent on the First Amendment. Our mission to make disciples of all nations remains whether we live in a free democracy, a repressive monarchy, or under the insane rule of Nero.
We are not commanded to battle or diminish cultural immorality, but to shine as light.
If you light a candle in broad daylight, its impact is barely noticeable. But when you light a lamp in the middle of a dark room, that little flame can make a remarkable difference as it lights up an entire room. The same is true with the church. The darker the environment, the brighter and more obvious our light can be as we shine for the glory of Christ.
Can you imagine Paul suggesting to Roman believers that the solution to changing Roman culture was through boycotts, marches, protests, or legislation? While our victories in court are satisfying and our liberties precious, we’re never told in God’s word that our objective is to maintain them, or to fix the symptoms of a sinful culture. Instead, we are told to address the root of sin and our culture’s need for Christ and His gospel.
We have not been called by God to save America; we have been called by God to save Americans.
We have the advantage of being able to read the end of the story and we know that the kingdoms and countries of our world will pass away and the Kingdom of Christ will reign eternal.
Yes, when I look at society around me, I am saddened by sinful corruption — the moral decay and the rejection of God throughout our nation. But I am also encouraged to know that we have an eternal antidote to the problem – the gospel.
If we want to facilitate lasting change in this world, then it’s time for the church to get back to the business of being the church. We are ambassadors of another Kingdom, commissioned and appointed by Christ to the outposts of earth with the same command — to introduce our world to the gospel — which is the power of salvation to everyone who believes.
Stephen Davey has served as the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary since its inception in 2003. Stephen also serves as the pastor/teacher of The Shepherd’s Church (www.shepherdschurch.com) as well as the principal Bible teacher for Wisdom International (www.wisdomonline.org).