The loss of dominion by Christians did not just happen. A study of our nation’s [U.S.] history will show that there was a time when the majority of the people were self-consciously Christian in their outlook. Even those who did not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord still looked upon Christianity as the cornerstone of a Christian civilisation. Over time, the idea of a Christian civilisation waned. What was gained was soon lost, not by a military coup, but simply by the passivity of Christians.
Anyone who wants to do well with a group of people, has to be able to inspire them. Why? Because people are not interested in going out of their way and accepting inconvenience, trial and trouble, unless they can identify specific benefits that will come to them, or their heirs.
It is not even sufficient to say, “For truth’s sake, we have to do this.” The pursuit of truth is essential, but by itself, it’s not inspirational. Therefore we must be able to identify the benefits that will result from change and inconvenience among God’s people, as they follow Him.
I believe the Bible reflects this pattern, for hope is a recurring theme in scripture. Of Abraham, the Bible says that
In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which has been spoken, “so shall your descendants be” (Ro.4:18).
With Abraham, God inspired him to belief and action with the assurance that he would become “a father of many nations.”
But there is more. Joshua and Caleb sought to encourage Israel that there would be a positive outcome, if they confronted the inhabitants of the promised land in battle. They said,
If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us- a land which flows with milk and honey (Nu.14:8).
It’s not wrong to look forward to and enjoy the good things of life, but it is wrong to have a warped sense of priorities, that says that pleasure must always come first. For the believer, pleasure generally doesn’t come first. It most certainly didn’t with Jesus. He obeyed, suffered and died, but now He reigns.
Joshua and Caleb didn’t promise pleasure first. They promised Israel that before them was “a land which flows with milk and honey.”
How could this be won? After godly battle and victory, and some of the soldiers did die (see Joshua 7:1-6).
The great men and women of the Bible faced major challenges. God did not insulate these people from the serious difficulties of life, though He generally protected them, in these troubles. And if we’d like the idea of being numbered among them, we’ll have to face the fact, that walking with God and being faithful to Him, will certainly mean encountering trouble.
And the Bible gives us assurances in this:
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).
John Winthrop (the Governor of New England) observed, almost 400 years ago:
[H]e which would have suer peace and joye in Christianitye, must not ayme at a condition retyred from the world and free from temptations, but to knowe that the life which is most exercised with tryalls and temptations is the sweetest, and will prove the safeste. For such tryalls as fall within compasse of our callinges, it is better to arme and withstande them than to avoide and shunne them.
Changing the way we are governed will require changes among Christians. What will be required for godly and long-lasting change will primarily not be political agitation, but a tremendous shift in attitude among believers, so that we become responsible people, ready to accept the load the Bible requires of us, beginning among individuals, in churches, within our local community and then our nation, with the latter building upon the former.
The heirs of the Lord must show themselves to be willing, capable and responsible. Who else will He give His inheritance to, for which Jesus Christ died? This means we must obey (and sometimes suffer) before we receive the inheritance as His heirs.
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him (Ro.8:16-17).
Christians are supposed to make a difference in their day. They are not supposed to be passively idling the time way, as though their time was theirs to possess as they wished. Our Master requires us to be at work in His place of calling for us, wherever that might be. And part of our essential equipment is to be our hope in the Lord.
This hill, though high, I covet to ascend,
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here;
Come pluck up heart, let’s neither faint nor fear;
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.
I Cor.15:8 says:
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor.15:58).