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Common Concerns of the Church and State 04/09/2010
Roger Williams

Rhode Island founder Roger Williams first wrote of the "wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world."

 

Our nation is heading in the wrong direction and much of the responsibility lies in the church. Still, there is hope – and it lies in the church, as well. Our founders understood the importance of personal freedom. Their journey toward freedom was similar to Israel's supernatural deliverance from bondage in Egypt. As surely as God sent Moses to lead them out of bondage toward the Promised Land, with the supernatural parting of the Red Sea and miraculous sustenance in the wilderness, our founders understood they, too, were on a pilgrimage that required divine intervention and care of the Creator, Divine Providence, and God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

They had witnessed the bondage forced on believers by ruling powers and dictatorial monarchies. They had lived through horrible abuses by the ruling classes. America offered a place not only to escape this oppression and establish a place where freedom could be protected and offered to others. There is little doubt that Moses and the books of the law greatly impacted the thinking of this nation's founding fathers.

The early believers, including those on the Mayflower and the ministers proclaiming the Gospel in the original colonies, all understood that if Christ came to set people free, this God-given right must not only be pursued, but, once established, must be protected.

In my opinion, the church has been silent too often and the pulpits far too un-prophetic to inspire repentance and the restoration of foundational principles. Let me touch on several areas that should deeply concern all of us:

First, the ever-increasing size and control granted to the federal government by the voters and representatives in Washington. Our leaders protect the power of their positions by promising what only God and true charity can provide. People are being taught that they can depend upon man rather than God. Politicians have become comfortable taking people's resources and disbursing them at will. We are not better for it; we are weaker because of it. I care deeply for the poor and helpless, but the nation's approach to the problem is actually making it worse. Voting for promises that sound compassionate is counterfeit charity. Only active involvement by caring people can produce positive progress.

Second, the rapidly growing debt and certain increase in taxes is bondage that will destroy any hope of future economic recovery and stability. The job market will be more negatively impacted than one can possibly imagine. The ability for those who struggle to move forward will be drastically limited.

Third, the lack of involvement on the part of Christians. I have emphasized for many years the importance of Christians being inspired, informed and involved. A great percentage of active church members, even in evangelical and Catholic churches, are not even registered to vote. Many who are registered never vote. Those who do vote are not always well-informed. An uninformed electorate is potentially dangerous. They are easily manipulated. We need to understand the principles that made us great and those that must be preserved or restored.

Fourth, the misinterpretation of founding principles. We must understand that rights come from God, not man, government or politicians. We have been granted God-given rights as our founders outlined in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men."

These are God given rights. Take note – only God can give life and give us true liberty which can be treasured and protected, but the founders also said that we have the right the pursue happiness. We don't have a guarantee of happiness. We pursue those things which can bring success and happiness. It's not something automatically given to people, it is something we must seek on our own. As Christians, we find real fullness in life by pursuing the source of life, living as free and responsible individuals, and pursuing the success and happiness that freedom affords us. We don't wait for someone to bring it to us. It is God-given and happiness depends upon the pursuit of it. Success isn't doled out. As my longtime friend Mike Huckabee says, “A lot of people in America today are born on third base and think they hit a triple!”

People who have just received something and don't understand the responsibility that goes with both earning it and protecting it will prove to be unworthy and inadequate caretakers. This mentality is on the rise in our society and only God can change it.

When our founders and those seeking the “promised land” established this uniquely prosperous nation, they understood that freedom requires responsibility. This is not being communicated in our nation and the church has failed to make it clear. Many professing Christians have participated in this terrible downward progression.

Fifth, we have not embraced the value of human life. How can the church not effectively address the tragedy of abortion? We must help people recognize the significance of life. The church is the most effective influence on earth working to strengthen the family and helping people understand the absolute value of human life.

Finally, we have lost the importance of the family unit and there is an all out assault on marriage. We are being pressed upon to condone something as natural which is in every way unnatural. Same-sex marriage is not only contrary to all biblical truth, but it runs in direct opposition to nature. This trend is more than an assault on marriage, it actually violates the first institution established by God – marriage between one man and one woman. It is also an assault on the picture of Christ coming for His bride, the church. It is an attack on the importance of this sacred relationship that leads to the fruitfulness of the marriage relationship with beautiful offspring and the families that are, in essence, the core strength in any community or society.

It is the responsibility of the church to address these issues of national concern. Read the book of Nehemiah where he led the people of Israel to restore the walls of Jerusalem. In the truest sense of the word, this is what I believe God is encouraging all of us as ministers and believers to begin doing in our nation. All of the Old Testament prophets warned Israel concerning the consequences of forsaking the moral boundaries God commanded them to keep in place as walls of protection.

As Nehemiah built the walls and called the people to confess their sins, he reminded them of the cause of deterioration in the walls and the vulnerability of the people. In Nehemiah 9:16 he said, “Our ancestors were proud and stubborn and paid no attention to God's commands. They refused to obey, and did not remember the miracles that had been done for them. Instead they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt.” For many years, our nation has chosen leaders to unknowingly take us back into the bondage of this world.

As Christians, we are to love the people in the world, but not be controlled by the ways of the world. We are not to be in bondage to the world's systems. Much of the population and the church lives in bondage. Believers are not living in freedom that God offers. Unless the church begins to live in freedom and in the fullness of God's Spirit, we are not going to be able to help this nation rebuild the walls necessary to maintain the freedoms we have enjoyed.

I often hear Christians and church leaders excuse themselves from their civil responsibilities by referring to separation of church and state. This inappropriate response reveals a sad misunderstanding of the separation clause. When Thomas Jefferson wrote about the “wall of separation between the church and state,” the strong influence of preachers like Roger Williams led him to clearly understand that the wall is in place to protect ”the garden from the wilderness, not protect the wilderness from the gardens.” The garden of God – the influence of believers and people of faith - should always have a positive effect on the wilderness.

I encourage every believer to begin praying for leaders to be better informed, to speak out on issues of importance, and to begin participating as responsible citizens. I commit to seek, discover and share the best sources of information possible. I am convinced that many pastors and church members also possess concern for our nation. Repentance, beginning on the part of the church, is where we start. We must recognize that we have failed to be rightly inspired, adequately informed and totally involved. It is easy to answer, “Politics is a dirty business.” But it is worse for us to sit back and “mind our own business” while someone else makes decisions that will lead us into the bondage our founders sought to escape. Whenever we have made the wrong decisions, our nation has often inappropriately adjusted. On other occasions, we have wisely corrected our course. As Christians, we must not engage in mockery or unfair accusation toward our enemies. We must present realistic, positive solutions and hope. It's not enough to curse the darkness; we must shine the light.

I fully believe that if the church becomes prayerfully involved in the political process in the coming months and years, we can see this nation turn back to the light and glory of liberating truth.


Author: James Robison

Editor: Randy Robison

Word Count: 1605

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and His wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.