The Church has not been called, as its first priority, to save nations. The Church has been called to advance God’s Kingdom. In the advancement of God’s Kingdom, nations will eventually be saved.
When we reverse this order and mount campaigns of national reformation at the expense of individual discipleship, we begin to draw on the power source of national pride to accomplish a task that can only be fulfilled by a clear focus on the mission God has given the Church.
Nationalism in any form, even for those of us who feel we live in a great nation, will end up redefining the enemy as other nations and people who oppose our way of life. Nationalism can become, if we are not careful, a blinding force to the real battle that is never a flesh and blood war, but an engagement with spiritual forces in high places.
Some of these spiritual forces attempting to control the affairs of men and nations are embedded within our own political systems and in the various political parties in whom some place their trust. The real battle is not nation against nation, or person against person, but against belief systems that undermine the beauty and majesty of God.
When the Church in any nation begins to walk in the fullness of who she is, the controlling spirit of that nation will begin to be compromised. In that compromise spiritual deception will begin to lose its ability to deceive the hearts and minds of the citizens who are under its control and spell. This is the beginning of true national transformation.
The plan of God to bring the nations of this world into the Kingdom of God seems less dramatic and heartfelt to some when compared to our very visual and emotional displays of national pride. I still get choked up when I see a ceremony to honor a fallen soldier who gave their life so I can live in a freedom that I too easily take for granted. National pride is wonderful and moving, but it will not accomplish the Great Commission Christ gave the Church.
God’s plan for national transformation is to bring the occupants of every nation out of a self-sufficient place of spiritual darkness into the light of God’s truth. This is done one man and one woman at a time. Maybe the greatest source for a national revival can be found in our loving interaction with a neighbor over the back fence who may not yet know God and who actually opposes all that we hold dear.
The Lord said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” He did not say to go and save a nation first. He sent us to individuals – individuals that can be hard to love at times. The changed life of a single disciple precedes the changed life of an entire nation because the individuals are the substance of the culture.
Whenever our commitment to the personal discipleship of a single human being is displaced by a larger cause, such as national reformation, our efforts will eventually become futile and frustrating. We can actually end up dividing ourselves from the very people we are called to love because they are lumped into a larger, nameless opposing mass. This is actually a way that hell wages war against the plans of God.
July 4th is coming in a few days. I take pride in what this day means for me as a citizen and for all of us who make up this great nation. While I will experience some strong patriotic emotions on that day, I have come to realize it will not be my emotions of national pride that will motivate me to see my nation change for the better. What must motivate each of us are the words and passion of Jesus. The mission Jesus gave to His Church is accomplished within the human heart. Unlocking the heart of the individual will eventually unlock the heart of a nation.