For more than two hundred years, the United States of America was a light of freedom and blessing to the world. Four hundred years ago Plymouth governor William Bradford described American civilization as “stepping stones to others” for God’s great work on earth.
Of course, it was Jesus Himself who said his people would be a “city on a hill” and Ronald Reagan applied that phrase to America’s great experiment with liberty whose statue stands in New York harbor as a “light to the world.”
But America’s light is going out–and it pains me to state the necessary corollary:
Nations of the world: do not follow the American example.
Our light is under a bushel.
I believe the uniquely formed, biblically based, and freedom loving United States of America reached a tipping point in 2012. Our faith-based nation, born in spiritual revival and established on numerous principles that bring freedom and blessing to people, has chosen to go down a pathway of darkness that makes us unworthy of emulation.
What is our newly chosen worldview road?
Secularism–which brings darkness and death to liberty.
On the simplest level, to be secular is to be “worldly”–to follow man-made morality and customs rather than God. The dictionary defines secularism as “1. Religious skepticism or indifference. 2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public.”
Sound familiar? No doubt secularism has been rising in America for some time, but the 21st century has brought its triumph in government, education, economics, morality and family life.
America used to believe in God-given rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property).”
Today we believe in killing pre-born babies by the millions, placing punishing regulations on business, anything goes morality, re-defining marriage, and taxing people out of their properties. We have chosen “the way of the world”–which is really to say we are following Europe in the shedding of Christian freedom and blessing for the darkness of humanism.
How blind can we be.
Look at Europe. It was never the purest form of Christian expression, but none-the-less was essential and providential in the birth of God-given rights, republican democracies, science and the arts out of a biblical worldview, and free enterprise capitalism which created the middle class.
- Europe has turned away from faith in God. Secularism rules, especially in the West.
- It is dying demographically and could possibly become Islamic within two generations.
- Its bloated social democracies are teetering on the edge of collapse and insolvency.
- Morals are dead, family life is in decline, and despair and anarchy are rising.
Yet, America has chosen this model. We want to be like Europe.
For that very reason, the developing nations of the world–in Latin America, Africa, the Pacific, Asia, and the Middle East should no longer look to the United States as a “shining light on a hill” to follow and emulate.
Better to look to other nations who are “growing their faith” and applying Christ’s truths to their national life. These include:
President Yoweri Museveni recently repented of his sins and the sins of Uganda as a nation in a move aimed at establishing it as a God-fearing nation. The President made this historic move at Mandela National stadium in Namboole on October 9 during national prayers for dedicating Uganda to God.
He said to the nation: “I denounce witchcraft and satanic practices. I repent on behalf of Uganda. We confess our sins. We repent of the sins of shedding innocent blood, corruption, bribery, sexual immorality, drunkenness, rebellion, insubordination, tribalism and sectarianism.”
The president dedicated Uganda to God to be His nation anchored on His principles and values. He indicated that the next fifty years belong to the young generation, advised the young people to be God-fearing referring to the Biblical verse in Proverbs 9:10 which says, “The fear of God is beginning of wisdom.”
Family Research Council commented: “The Museveni prayer is a model for all Christian leaders in the world. Unfortunately, the media is so threatened by religion that it refuses to leave another country alone to pursue its own views on sexuality and faith. Since Museveni’s speech, the press has ridiculed Uganda for bending its knee to a higher power–the same higher power that Americans have to thank for our great nation. In times like these, President Museveni’s humility should be emulated, not criticized. It is faithfulness like his that will raise Uganda’s status as a new power in Africa.”
My friend, J. Lee Grady, points out other nations to watch:
Nothing in the history of missions rivals the success story that is China. Mao Zedong tried to wipe out Christian faith in the 1970s when there were only 2.7 million believers. Today, the most conservative estimate is that China had 75 million believers in 2010–and it could be as great as 120 million in 2012–more evangelicals than in the U.S.
As China’s “faith” rises, its influence increases in the world.
Despite language barriers, tribal divisions and violent attacks by Hindus, indigenous church-planting movements have flourished all over India in the last 40 years. Fifteen years ago in Andhra Pradesh, a woman who heard a gospel radio broadcast, asked if someone could plant a church in her remote village. Within the first year after a pastor came, the church had 75 converts. After a church building was constructed in 1994, this church planted 125 churches with a combined membership of more than 5,000. This type of growth is occurring throughout India today.
This nation of 203 million is experiencing an economic boom during a global recession. It is also in the midst of a Christian awakening. Pentecostal churches have been growing exponentially since the 1970s, as have Baptist, Presbyterian and Nazarene groups that have adopted Pentecostal practices. If Brazil can avoid the traps of greed and moral scandal that crippled American Christians, it could become a spiritual superpower. It is already the world’s second largest missionary-sending nation.
Since the deposing of Ethiopian dictator Haile Selassie in 1974, evangelicals have grown from 5 percent to 20 percent of the population. Mainline Christians from Lutheran and Orthodox backgrounds have been swept up in Pentecostal revival movements in recent years—and this has fueled huge church-planting initiatives.
At least 24 percent of the country’s population is evangelical, and churches are pushing farther into unreached areas where indigenous people are trading their superstitions for faith in Christ.
What this Eastern European nation lacks in economic strength is offset by its spiritual passion, especially in the western cities of Oradea, Cluj-Napoca and Timisoara. Many of the believers in this country are leaving old traditions and embracing a more relevant, dynamic faith and planting vibrant churches—and their sights are set on sending missionaries to the nearby Middle East. Romania’s flat tax (a more biblical idea) is the fourth lowest in Europe.
As America continues to fall on the “Index of Freedom” (number ten and dropping rapidly), the nation of Singapore is number two and rising. This tiny, prosperous nation is emerging as an Antioch of the East—a strategic base for both missionary sending and funding. Members of Trinity Church, one of many megachurches in the nation, give more than $6 million a year to missions.
In the world’s largest Muslim country, Christianity is growing so fast the government tries to hide statistics. Operation World says evangelicals have grown from 1.3 million to 13 million since 1960. Time magazine recently called what is happening in Indonesia “a religious revolution.” And Christians in the Banda Arc province say Muslims are much more receptive to the gospel since the 2004 tsunami that devastated the region.
As America falters, many others are rising. God is never without his “light” in the world. You just need to choose your heroes wisely.
Here are my encouragements:
Nations of the World: The American Statue of Liberty no longer speaks the truth. Look to Christ and his power and principles as well as choosing wise national examples to follow.
American believers: Let’s be honest that “our city is no longer on a hill” but is covered by a basket. Only God knows when the darkness will be irreversible. Until then, it is our duty to humble ourselves, repent, pray, and work even harder to revive God’s American Dream.