What is true of any civilization that ultimately collapsed or was overcome by a foreign power is that it first fell apart from the inside. The landscape of history is strewn with the remains of once-great nations that allowed moral decay from within to bring them to ruin.
As the Roman Empire rose to greatness, it was no doubt assumed that it would be around for centuries. But even while its citizens were living in prosperity, Rome was crumbling on the inside.
Historian Will Durant wrote, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential cause of Rome’s decline lay in her people, … her morals.”
The same is happening in America today. There is moral decay on the inside. Is there any hope for our nation, or will things just get worse? Will our streets and schools ever be safe again? Will good ever prevail over evil? Or, are we simply doomed to failure?
It is my belief that our country has two choices before it: judgment, or a spiritual awakening. What do I mean by a spiritual awakening? I’m referring to a great move of God’s Spirit among his people, where they get back to the Christian faith as it was meant to be lived. That is what we need to pray for in the United States of America.
The greatest revival in human history that we know of took place in the ancient city of Nineveh. At the time, the population of Nineveh was about 1 million people. An awakening swept through the entire city, no thanks to Jonah, the prophet God sent. Jonah didn’t even want to go.
When the Lord told Jonah to go and preach to the people of Nineveh, he said no. Then he caught a boat going in the opposite direction. He was swallowed by a great fish, and after he repented, the fish vomited him onto the shores of Nineveh. Jonah wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t want to preach to these people. He didn’t even care if God judged them.
This was the only message Jonah gave them: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4 NIV). Loose paraphrase: “You’re going to burn, so deal with it.” There was no offer of forgiveness. Jonah’s message basically was, “You’re history, so count your days. It’s over.” But amazingly, God worked in Nineveh. The people turned back to God. They repented. And because of that, God spared them.
The people of Nineveh didn’t have the message we have today. They didn’t hear that God loved them so much that he sent his own son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and pay for their sins. They didn’t know that forgiveness could be given and received instantaneously if a person would believe. Yet Jesus said, “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here” (Luke 11:32 NIV).
There’s a passage of Scripture in the Old Testament where God gives his prescription for revival, for the healing of a nation: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV). That statement was originally given to the nation Israel at the dedication of their temple. God was giving them a heads-up for the future.
When we look at the problems in America today, we’re quick to point the finger. But notice where God directs his words when there are troubles in a nation: “my people who are called by my name. …” When God sees a breakdown in a nation, he doesn’t point his finger at the government. He doesn’t point his finger at the entertainment industry. He doesn’t point his finger at any one person. He points his finger at his people.
The problem is there are a lot of people running around today who say they are Christians, but they are not. They’re playing a game. They think that just because they have prayed a prayer, they can live as they please. There never have been any results or fruit in their lives to prove they are true followers of Jesus.
If you’re a Christian, let me ask you a question: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? I’m not talking about how many Christian stickers you have on your car or how many T-shirts you own with Christian statements on them. I’m talking about hard evidence. Could they interview your employer or coworkers or family members and find anything to prove that you truly are a Christian?
Are you really sure that you’re a Christian? Are you one of God’s people? It is our hypocrisy that turns off so many who don’t know the Lord. In fact, it’s been said there are two reasons people don’t attend church: 1) they don’t know a Christian, or 2) they do know a Christian.
If you’re not a Christian, allow me to apologize for the hypocrites out there who claim to be Christians. But let me also say that you need to base your decision on who Jesus said he was. People will fall short. Jesus didn’t say, “Follow my people.” Rather, he said, “Follow me.”
Here’s what we need to do as Christians. We need to repent. God said, “If my people … turn from their wicked ways.” Repentant Christians in prayer will be able to do more for America than all of the government’s programs combined.
The Bible says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people” (Proverbs 14:34 NIV).
Maybe you say you’re a Christian, but you’re doing things you shouldn’t be doing. Maybe you need to re-examine what the Bible says and ask yourself, “Am I really a Christian? Maybe I’ve just been thinking I’m a Christian when I’m not one at all.”
Then again, maybe you are a Christian, but you have been living in a backslidden state. It is time for you to repent and get right with God.
Christians, America today needs you to live for Christ.
Read more at What Christians Can Do For America.