It is hard trying to put into words the heaviness that is on my heart right now. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard from various commentators and news outlets the events that unfolded in our nation’s capitol on Wednesday. I won’t go into the details of everything that happened because for one, you can get that information from just about anywhere else. A quick Google search of “Capitol riots” or “Washington protests” will give you all you need to know in terms of what actually unfolded.
The second reason I won’t be going into the details of what happened is what I want to focus on for the rest of this post, and that is because I believe that there is something much deeper going on than mere riots and protests. Yes, what happened Wednesday was outwardly wrong and ugly, but there is a much more serious heart issue going on and I want to try as best I can to get to the center of this. We can try all the outward remedies we can think of like calling for peace and unity, electing new officials, and so on, but until we get down to what is actually happening, all of the work to repair our country will be in vain.
Therefore, I want to spend the rest of this time exploring and digging at what I believe God has to say to us through his Word, the Bible. Maybe then, we will find an answer for what we can do to bring peace and unity to our country.
I want to start by stating what I think the main issue with our country is, and then I will defend it. I think the chief issue with our country is that we are a people who do not know God. “Hold on a second, Brendan. Don’t you know that America was founded on Christian principles? Aren’t there almost 400,000 churches across the country? Even our money has ‘In God We Trust’ printed on it. We are a Christian nation!” I can hear the objections already.
Let me be clear: None of these things brings us to God or makes us a “Christian nation.” For all I care, we could have double the amount of churches and even that would not make us any more “Christian.” What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter how much we do on the outside to make us look like Christians. We can have strong Christian foundations, have hundreds of thousands of churches, recognize God on our money, and more. These are not bad things, but what really matters is our actual understanding of God in our hearts, not simply our outward actions.
Consider Jesus’ sermon on the mount where he transforms the old Mosaic law to not just encompass what people do, but also encompasses what is in their hearts. For example, he says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement” (Matthew 5:21-22). Or take another example, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Or, for a third example, skip ahead a little further in Matthew to Jesus condemning the religions leaders. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean” (Matthew 23:25-26).
You get the picture. It’s not what we do on the outside that determines who we are. What’s in our heart determines who we are. Again, Jesus teaches us, saying, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). You see, we can do all the right things, say the right words, and even believe the right things, but until Christ is the supreme Treasure of our hearts, all of it is in vain.
Let me stop here for a second. Did I just say that you can even believe the right things, yet still miss the point of it all? Yes, I did. Consider what James says when he tells us, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). Or even think about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when he was tempted by Satan. Satan himself knows the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, as he uses it to try to trip up Jesus (Matthew 4:5-6). In fact, I would be willing to bet the Satan knows more about the Bible and more doctrine than anyone else in the world. He just uses his knowledge to distort the Word and lead people astray, rather than lead them in the truth.
This should cause us to seriously examine ourselves. If it’s possible for Satan himself to know more about the Bible and more about God than we do, we ought to be sure that we are paying attention to the state of our hearts and souls. So what is the difference between Satan and a Christian? It is this: that while Satan may know more and have better head knowledge, he hates God in his heart and wants nothing more than to destroy God and his purposes, the Christian has a changed heart and loves God and wants to follow in his ways.
The Christian has a heart that exults in the eternal glory of God, not the fleeting pleasures of this world. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him” (Psalm 28:7). The Christian is not someone who simply goes to church because it’s the right thing to do. The Christian is not someone wears Christian apparel or has a Christian bumper sticker on their car. A Christian is not someone posts cliché Bible verses, captions, and talking points on their social media and cares more about the response from others than their actual relationship with God. I could go on, but I want to make it abundantly clear that just because we do these things, it does not make us right with God.
I believe that this nation is full of people who think they know God and are in right standing with him because they do all the things mentioned above and more, but will end up in hell because they cared more about the approval of man rather than the approval of God. The words of Jesus on this are chilling. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ‘And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'” (Matthew 7:21-23). It is possible to even “do many mighty works in [Jesus’] name,” yet still miss the point. We must be a people that guards our hearts.
This nation is full of “workers of lawlessness” and sinners who are both Republicans and Democrats, male and female, black and white, young and old, rich and poor. It is here that we arrive at the core issue of what is wrong with our country: we have a sin issue. The issue is not that we don’t have the right politicians in power. The overarching issue is that we are a sinful people who simply do not know God or take him seriously. What then do I propose as a solution?
Pray. We must pray like we never have before. We must get on our knees before God and plead with him that he would spare our country and have mercy on us. Do we even realize that at any moment, he could strike down all 330 million people in this country in an instant and be perfectly justified in doing so?
Think about it: we are a nation that murders hundreds of thousands of babies in the womb every year, while many celebrate this as “empowerment” instead of recognizing that they have just snuffed out an innocent life. We are a nation that takes pride in diminishing God’s purpose for marriage, all the while doing so in the name of “love” and “equality.” We are a nation that lives in so much material prosperity while others around the world suffer to meet the basic needs of life, all the while we just say, “Someone else will take care of it.”
How long until we wake up? How long until we realize that we deserve nothing we have except the wrath of God for our sins? How long until we snap out of the easy, non-sacrificial, and perverted view of Christianity that has become mainstream in America today? I hesitate to even call it Christianity. What are we doing with our lives if we are not sacrificing anything for the sake of Christ?
Friends, we have to turn to Jesus. There is nothing else that can save us from the evil we have done. We must cry out to him as though our lives depend on it (because they really do). We must confess our sins, place our faith in him alone, and live in a way that reflects these actions. This isn’t just about fighting for the soul of the country we love. Even more importantly, it’s about saving our own souls.