Many have wondered if the moral decline in our society is evidence that God has given up on America. However, the very phrasing of that question “Has God abandoned America?” highlights the wrong perspective regarding God’s relationship to our country — or any country for that matter. America has no special relationship with God, but the people in America have the same opportunity as everyone else to become members of His redeemed family.
God’s invitation to Americans is the same invitation He has given to the citizens of every nation throughout human history. It is not a national invitation, but rather a personal one. God has not given up on any nation or people-group, and His invitation to all remains the same — and will remain the same — until the final judgement day recorded in Revelation 20.
Moral decline is not evidence of God’s abandonment, but it is certainly evidence of mankind’s wickedness. If moral decline were proof that God had abandoned a nation, God certainly would have abandoned the Ninevites. This nation was so brutal and immoral that the prophet Jonah preferred running away from preaching to them. When he finally did arrive, fresh from the Divine Whale Express, he simply proclaimed the word of the Lord and the king of Nineveh declared, “Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 3:8b-9).
Moral decline is proof that our world needs God. It serves as a daily reminder for believers to shine the light of the gospel in the midst of increased darkness. Unfortunately, too many Christians have confused shining the light with winning a culture war.
As I’ve often said, a lighthouse never gets rid of a storm – it shines the light for wayward travelers to find their way home. The work of the church is not to engage in a war with wicked mankind, attempting to make bad people better; the work of the church is sharing the gospel and calling on individuals to turn to Jesus as their only hope.
When we remember that our calling is not to save America but to deliver the saving gospel to Americans, our mission is correctly reoriented with our calling from God. Paul never once railed against the immoral lifestyle of Emperor Nero in any of his New Testament epistles. But he did challenge his readers to live holy lives for the glory of God. Holy believers were, and are still today, the mightiest weapon in the battle for the souls of mankind. The best advertisement for the life-changing gospel of Christ is a changed life.
Finally, God always has been, is, and will continue to be sovereign over the state of our lives, our communities, and our nation. From before the beginning of the world, God knew when America would be established, what its physical borders would look like, and what its ultimate destiny will be. God is in control over it all. Peter preached that the very boundaries of a nation were predetermined by God, including the space they would occupy on the timeline of human history (Acts 17:26).
Instead of pinning all our hopes, as earthly citizens, on political leaders, we can trust in God, knowing that He controls the ultimate state of our union. And with our trust in His sovereign will, we can focus our lives, and the mission of the church, back where it belongs — proclaiming the gospel to our nation that desperately needs to hear it, believe it, and live it.