2 Corinthians 5:5
Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Religion permeates culture. There has never been a society in the annuls of recorded history that did not have a religion. It is inarguable that inside the created man, there is a yearning in one's heart to seek the/a higher power. Why they seek that higher power could come under a number of guises. Times are hard and we can no longer cope. We go through an event where we suddenly realize that we are not in control of our lives. Someone told them they need to look for it. Or perhaps the soul that was created by God in them is crying out to be heard, and reunited with the Father. But, no matter what the cause or reason, no society has ever developed that did not have religion. Bottom line, you cannot have a culture without religion.
Keep this in mind however. There have been societies that have tried to not have any religion. Cultures and nations that have prohibited God, and made it illegal to worship a creator. In every case, those nations, societies and godless experiments have failed. Think about that. From biblical times on through today, every nation that has eliminated God from its culture has crumbled and failed. Why? Not because God made it so. Man is not just entrusted with the gospel message to pass on and share, he has also be given an even greater gift that bears even greater personal responsibility: Free Will. Because of that, man can reject God. We can elect people to positions of power and authority who reject God. A government can reject God. But when this rejection comes full circle, it always brings failure, because the Spirit in man will always cry out for God! It's simply how we are made. There can be no culture without religion.
At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus gave us a final command. The Great Commission it is called. Some people call it a mandate, or a command, which of course it is. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations". To mw this means two things:
- We cannot make successful believers and not make disciples. In other words, sharing the gospel is not enough. We must make disciples of these people who come to know Jesus, not just count their acceptance of Jesus as their Lord and savior as another notch in our belt and then leave them to muddle their way through life without fellowship, teaching and counseling.
- We cannot make successful nations without making the people in them disciples of Jesus.
We can argue the definition of 'successful' in light of this context. Is getting saved, coming to know and understand that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the only Gatekeeper to heaven, and the only mediator between God and man a success story? Sure. And one can argue that this is enough. But will this person ever reach their potential, will this person ever be able to pursue what God has dreamed for them if they do not soak themselves in the Word of God? Anything can happen, God is sovereign, but we are not called to be lazy Christians. We are called to be active in prayer, in fellowship, in rightly dividing the Word, sharpening each other as we discuss and meditate on what God shows us. In this context, only fulfilling your true potential is a great success. As Paul tells us, we must run the race to win! And as Richard Petty once said (for all you fellow red-necks out there), "second place is just another name for the first loser." To be successful in accordance with the Great Commission, you must be able and willing to go out, to places where you are not comfortable (all the world mind you), and not just take the message of Christ, but also be willing to invest in people. You must be willing to make disciples!
In the same vein, what makes a successful nation? Is it longevity alone? Is it economic or military strength? Is it world influence? A nation can be successful at or because of all these things. But the success would be temporary if that success is not used for good, and if that success is not used to make disciples. For over 200 years our nation has done that. We have used our power and influence to make disciples. We were founded as, and widely known as a Christian nation. As a matter of fact that is the sole reason that many of the world's nation hate us. Seems like our government is the only government on the plant that does not recognize us as Christian. Our 'success' is waning. And it is because as a nation, we are no longer making disciples. Not just Christians, but disciples.
Our nation has made other people all over the world disciples of democracy, disciples of freedom, and disciples of a free-market, free-religious society. But as the world progressed into a post-modern juggernaut, the influence began to work in a backwards fashion, and before you knew it, our intellectuals were turning their back on our Christian heritage, and embracing the call of the world to post-modern humanism where God is no longer welcome. Seems now, that because we are still a Christian nation that our nation is no longer welcome on the world stage. Seems following a successful revolt of a tyrannical government that had lied, cheated and stole from its subjects (ironic that the British Crown could so smugly call the people of the American colonies their 'subjects' and not wince at the fact that the very title itself made us little more than slaves to the crown), that being proud of your success was accepted on the world stage. Now, successful nations are looked down upon and are being toppled and dismantled from within because the new influence no longer answers or even recognizes the call of their hearts. Our nation is no longer making disciples of other nations. Freedom seems to be accepted as a natural thing, but yet there is no recognition that it does not come without a high price.
We must continue to make disciples as people, as individuals. If we do this, our nation will again make disciples of other nations. Why? Because inside the heart of every man is a spirit crying out to God, seeking that higher power. If we lead, they will follow. If we become like them, we will look like so many sheep in a flock of millions all walking in different directions. But to properly do this, we must be ready. And we must be informed.
Be in the word every day. Come to know and understand scripture like you do the directions to work or to school. Be able to quote biblical history like you can quote your own family history; after all it is. Be wary of false teachers and false prophets. Test them against the Word of God sand the Spirit of God. Know the truth so that you can recognize what's false. Be in church often, and not just so you can say you went to church. Go to a church where you are going to get fed, not pandered. God will you will grow, and sometimes that is not easy, that's why they call them 'growing pains'. Go where you are going to be stretched. Stretching tired muscles and old scars can be painful too. Don't go to church where they train you to make 'friends' with everyone, go where you have been trained to make disciples of everyone.