By Ricki Pepin© – December 2014
“Free health care!” “Free cell phones!” “I don’t have to make my car payment any more!” Such were the excited ravings that accompanied the political slogan/promise of “Hope and Change.” Really? Is that all hope and change amounts to…more “free stuff”? Given the opportunity, what would you hope for…for yourself, your family, for America? If you were “King of America” what changes would you make? You may protest and say there is no king in America, but history tells a different story.
When the War for Independence was brewing, colonists were fed up with England and King George. The historical mantra we learn in school from this era is, “No taxation without representation.” But there was another slogan of far greater significance: “No King but Jesus.” This short maxim paints a vivid picture of our founding fathers’ belief in who governed America. It was further demonstrated by their use of the phrase in the Declaration of Independence, “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the basis for this nation’s law.
This does not mean America was established as a theocracy but rather under the principles of Christianity such as liberty, justice, integrity, kindness, personal responsibility, charity. With this in mind, let’s “reboot” and find out what real hope and change means in America according to the principles of King Jesus.
The gospel is the message the church has been commissioned to teach. It’s a message that is much larger than is commonly taught, and is defined in part as, “…the history…of Jesus, including [His] character, actions and doctrines…with the whole scheme of salvation…” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) The doctrines of the gospel are defined as, “the principles or truths taught by Jesus.”
One of these principles speaks about hope, declaring that, “…Christ…who is in you…is our only hope for glory. (Colossians 1:27) What does that mean…hope for “glory”? Fasten your seatbelt for the answer: One of the definitions of “glory” is, “…an honorable representation of God.” What a job! How would individuals do this?
To answer, let’s look at another principle: God made the earth and everything in it, but gave mankind dominion over it (Genesis 1:28), meaning we are to replenish it, to rule and manage it in a way He would rule and manage it. What would that look like, ruling the earth and everything in it?
There are many components to God’s creation, and the gospel includes teaching and applying principles and truth to all of them. The gospel message is the message of hope and change. However, it is not just about personal salvation and going to heaven someday. It’s about transforming individuals, families, schools, communities, and governments in a way that would represent God’s plans on earth today! (Matthew 6:10)
Imagine this gospel teaching: Discovering truth through sciences, applying truth through technology, interpreting truth through humanities, implementing truth through commerce and social action, transmitting truth through education and arts, and preserving truth through government and law. Allow your mind to wander for just a few moments to think about what that “hope and change” would look like!
Time to “reboot.” Time to move the bar up. What if hope and change was understood not as a political slogan, but rather a national aspiration for personal character improvement? What if instead of looking for handouts from others, Americans looked into becoming better representatives of God? What if we searched for answers to problems beginning with gospel principles about proper self-government (how we behave as individuals), then extrapolate those principles to our families, our schools, our communities?
Historically, church and state worked hand-in-hand in America. In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville, a French Statesman and historian wrote, “Religion in America…must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions….This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.” Writing about the greatness of America, he said, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpit flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
We have the capacity to make America great again, but we must have teaching and application of the whole gospel to unlock it. How about it Church? How about it Pastors and Priests? Being a Christian is not just about going to heaven. It’s about living a life on earth representing God in every area. We have lost our path in America because we have short-changed the gospel message and kept it within the four walls of the church building. Push back Christians! What would happen if we learned the whole gospel and released it in America again?
Something to think about.