“America today begins to turn back to God.”
~Glenn Beck August 28, 2010
It’s a good line and a nice sentiment – I’m just not sure it’s accurate. Wishing for something doesn’t make it so. A movement seeking to recapture a political perspective is not a sign of revival. My sense is that those who stood to listen to Glenn Beck or watch him on TV were people who would profess to look to God for guidance and for a strong moral perspective. They didn’t turn back to God so much as they were hoping that others will, And their goal, it seems to me, is to get this country back on the most beneficial track, at least as they see it.
Many will dislike what I say and more will disagree, but when Glenn Beck becomes the prophetic voice of the followers of Jesus Christ one has to stop and take notice. The problem for me is that Glenn Beck is, and has been, a voice crying out in the political wilderness. He longs to see this country move in a different direction than the one we are currently on. In general, and politically, I agree in many ways. However, for Beck to now invoke a call to return to God lends itself to the implication that God is equated with a political bent and the hope of God is to save this nation. That is not the case according to Scripture.
God worked through the nation of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament – the Jewish Scriptures. Jesus Christ was born into the nation of Israel through the line of David – their greatest king. But, Jesus did not come to restore the nation of Israel, instead he came to move beyond that work of God and to now build the Church – the fellowship of believers, the Kingdom of God composed of Kingdom people. In the Church Jesus established there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. In Jesus Christ those national and class boundaries are put aside and God is doing a new thing.
This is why Jesus called his followers to “Go and make disciples” – otherwise he may have called them to “Go and make Christian nations”. Many say that’s what this country was meant to be. Maybe so, but, our founders were not a group of people trying to make a country that would be saved by God. In my estimation, many of them were hoping to create a country where the Church would be free to be used by God to save people. Freedom of religion was important to them because they knew how the Truth of Jesus could be manipulated and co-opted by political forces. And when that happens the good news becomes the property of a few and not all. We as American Christians must realize we are part of a more global kingdom.
I would add this – if Glenn Beck was right and the 28th of August 2010 was a day when America began to turn back to God, where was the repentance of those gathered? Where was the call to God to forgive us for being too focused on materialistic endeavors and for taking part in aspects of our culture that dishonor God – like watching TV shows that glorify and value casual sex outside of marriage, or living selfish, consumeristic lives? Where were the sackcloth and ashes?
My sense – and I did not watch the rally – is that the event was a call for others to repent and turn to God. Not a bad idea, but not one that works with those who are not of God. You can’t return to a place you have never been, and the surveys show many Americans have never really been “with” God. The greatest good we can do is to repent of our own sins, seek God’s grace, and then go share the grace and good news of God that comes to us in Jesus Christ.
Let us first be more fully the disciples we are called to be, and then, let us find ways to “make disciples for the transformation of the world.” Let us not be misled into trying to transform the world thinking that this is the way to make disciples.
Holy high-five to you, Mike