Of course we can.
However, as I’ve mulled over and over in my mind where to go from here after President Obama’s re-election… I, along with many other true believers face the increasingly complex quandary of just how to express my love for this nation. We’ve definitely arrived at a place where we must learn to show tough love; the side of love that is always difficult to express. I am not eager to share my thoughts at this point, but rather, motivated by a sense of responsibility.
The unscriptural, childish concept of love that many Christians have settled into is a weak, compromising, self-preserving attempt to win the hearts of a stiff-necked, sinful, American culture. This “come as you are” type of love sounds Christ-like, but careful observance recognizes that many “go as they are” after engaging the church. Jesus forgave the women at the well, but after saving her life, you’d better believe it made a huge impact on her when He said “Go and sin no more”. These five words are lamentably absent from the current “gospel” message dispensed from most of America’s pulpits.
God has placed the gift of the gospel on the tongue of His sons and daughters, and we must understand that the proper articulation of the gospel is perhaps our highest calling. 1 Corinthians 1:21 says: “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” A famous quote states “preach the gospel at all times, when necessary, use words.” Such an idea is not only impractical, but anti-scriptural. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion- “good news,” and the verb euangelizo meaning “to announce good news.” You can live a spotless life and do a thousand good works, but unless the good news is on your tongue while you do it… what does it accomplish for God’s Kingdom? It would be like suggesting that our local television newscaster could “share the news at all times, and when necessary use words.”
The gospel must be communicated through words, and we must articulate it correctly or we have lost everything!
Never before has the abuse of language cost the church and our nation so much as when we lost the word love to the muddy, hazey decade of the 60s. “Free love man!” was the cry of the day, and the church made it’s most vital mistake in decades when we attempted to “hippify” Jesus and ensure the culture that the best “free love” is found in the gospel. As a result, the baby boomers who hung in there with God, at least enough to drag their kids to church most Sundays since then, have for the most part, lost the sense of responsibility that should come with receiving Christ as Savior. He is Savior for many but Lord for few. As a result, we now face a post-Christian culture in America. More disturbing, is the nationwide trend of thought that assumes we’re just as “Christian” as we ever were, and that the increased social acceptance of certain ungodly practices actually indicates an advancement of love and understanding among “believers.”
A rarely quoted statement from Jesus reads “I did not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword.” Of course, the sword He speaks of is a metaphor for ideological conflict and He is not advocating physical violence. Let’s look at the statement in context:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”
Yes, Jesus did say that there are those who are not worthy to follow Him. How politically incorrect is that! Friends, make no mistake, we’ve arrived in a day and time that the very words of our Lord Jesus, God in the flesh, are considered by many to be politically incorrect, divisive, arrogant, closed-minded, intolerant bigotry. That leaves you and I with an important decision. Will we be faithful to share the gospel as it is presented in scripture, in it’s entirety, at the cost of our own “reputation” with the culture? Will we be faithful when it costs us friends? When it may set even our own family members against us?
The task ahead of us as a church is daunting. We must be loving… by presenting truths that our culture considers hate speech. We must be loving… in ways that people perceive to be arrogant and manipulative. We must share a gospel that becomes more and more offensive to the ears of both the unsaved, and “religious” Americans, each passing day. Can we still love America as she continues to lose the morality that once adorned her? We can and we must. But loving America looks very different these days then it did even a decade ago. It’s looking more and more like the love expressed by our Savior Lamb, when he humbly and firmly retained His true identity and firm convictions through the sufferings of His crucifixion.
Jesus said “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.”
Our love for America, expressed through holiness and faithfulness to the true gospel, will be the very reason we receive hatred from many, in return. But we can rejoice, knowing that such persecution is proof that we are in the very path which Jesus Himself has trod.
We must love America by preaching the truth, no matter the cost… lest the cost to love America, and preach the truth, increases.