There has been a lot of conversation and controversy over President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Some Catholic high school students from Covington, Kentucky, where our oldest daughter was born, were targeted because they were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. Let’s ask and answer this question: “What makes a country great?” What do you think makes a country great?
I was born in Great Britain, which became known as Great Britain because it built a Great Empire upon which the sun never set. However, that empire is no more and what was once Great Britain is now called the United Kingdom. Does an empire make a “great” nation? It certainly enriches a country economically. And it has to be strong militarily to maintain an empire. America is strong economically and a super power militarily. It is known the world over for being the ‘Land of the Free’ with a constitutional republican form of government.
In spite of our problems, millions of people around the world would love to come to America. Thousands and thousands are flooding in from south of the border. While Communist Countries built walls to keep their people in, we are talking about building a wall to keep illegal immigrants out. People want to come to America. I am thankful that my family immigrated to America.
What does God say makes a country great?
Gen. 12:1-3 says, “The Lord said to Abram: ‘Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing … and all the people’s on earth will be blessed through you.’”
Before Israel could become a great nation God had to free Abraham’s descendants from slavery in Egypt. He called a man named Moses to lead them out of slavery in Egypt through the wilderness to a Promised Land.
On the way God taught them that they needed two things in order to be a great nation, to be a good and godly people. First, they needed what we might call a mobile house of worship, a tent or Tabernacle that they carried with them through the wilderness – a place to come together as one people and worship God, let God lift them up and out of themselves and toward Him and each other. Worship and fellowship is so important. Second, they needed clear guidelines on how to behave. God gave them the Ten Commandments and other laws.
The nation of Israel prospered when the people made a good faith effort to trust and obey God, but they suffered when they began to distrust and disobey God. They became divided and were eventually defeated and destroyed. Solomon wrote some wise words that he and his son failed to keep in the forefront of their minds: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)
What is God thinking about America in this 21st century?
Most of us have heard how a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville said 19th century America was great nation because it was good – a nation of church going, Bible-believing, Christ-centered people who were trying to trust and obey God.
I remember how when I first came to a small town in the mountains of east Tennessee my non-church going family soon joined most everyone else: We went to church. The Pledge of Allegiance was not only recited with pride, but the Bible was read and memorized in classrooms. We had prayer before sporting events.We watched programs like Andy Griffith on TV. My college still tried to act like a good parent in helping students avoid trouble.
But, then the Vietnam War divided us, and opened the door for The Sexual Revolution that destroyed so much sexual morality and decency. As we became an increasingly self-absorbed and self-indulgent society, marriages and families fell apart. We became a drug obsessed culture in which people looked for peace and happiness in all the wrong places.
Today, we are a deeply divided country that has been shaped and molded by four increasingly anti-Christian forces. First, much of academia has been brainwashed by a progressive totalitarianism that does not tolerate old fashioned beliefs and values. It is strange to see that while “academic freedom” is still cherished on college campuses “free speech” is being banned and “politically incorrect” speakers bullied and defamed. Second, most of our entertainment media would have shocked and sickened the America I first knew on arriving. Third, most of our news media has become one-sided, expressing their own personal views rather than reporting the actual news. Fourth, most of our social media is so quick to judge and condemn people without taking time to check the facts.
The most faithful generation of Americans (nicknamed the “Greatest Generation”) have almost died out. Every generation that has followed them is increasingly less faithful than they were. There are regions of America where the number of church-going, Bible-believing, Christ-centered Christians is less than 5%.
What does God want us to do for our country?
Let us remember 2 Chron. 7:14, that says, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
This is a time for us to humble ourselves, pray, and turn from our sinful ways. Second, let us remember what the Apostle Paul said to Titus who was on a godless island called Crete where the people were described as “always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). He wrote in verses 2:7-8: “Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your (Gospel) message is to be sound beyond reproach …”
In the Western “Love’s Long Journey,” a young couple were living a Christ-centered life in front of their hired hands. One of the hired hands made this observation: “If believing the way they does makes them the way they is, it may bear looking into their” Christian faith. Their example was making a difference! Third, let us remember not only the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions, but the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.
America needs Christian missionaries starting new Bible-based, Christ-centered, mission-minded churches that are the key to making America great!