Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne (Psalm 97:2).
Rarely do I get to listen to Airing the Addisons on the radio as I drive, but every time I do, I am blessed – sometimes with a challenge and, often, with encouragement.
When Meeke Addison recently shared America has gotten so bad that we must finally realize we can’t “political” our way out of it, I knew what she meant. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be active in politics, but it means we should know the limits of change without God transforming hearts – the hearts of those in politics, yes, but even more importantly, the hearts of those within America’s churches.
Already, as Christians, we should realize legality doesn’t mean or guarantee morality. Both the present and history prove the further we move from God in our laws, the less moral those laws often become.
There's a deeper problem.
Think of any problem America has and with time you can go from its fruit and leaves to the branches to the trunk to the root: worshipping some part of creation instead of the Creator. The heart of man does this because the heart of man was made to worship. The emptiness many feel inside is often tied to worshipping some part of creation instead of the Creator.
Meeke shared what would help America the most.
What she mentioned came from Alexis de Tocqueville who wrote Democracy in America.
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there … in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there … in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there … in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great” (Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805-1859, emphasis added).
Tocqueville knew of America’s abundance in land and resources. He knew of her as a constitutional republic defined by the Constitution. Yet, those were not credited for America’s greatness. Tocqueville warned when America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. But it wasn’t America’s goodness He credited either!
But what preceded the goodness he saw?
Churches with pulpits that flame with righteousness were (and can still be) the secret to America’s genius and power.
Churches? Pulpits? Righteousness? These are the secret to America’s genius and power?
Pulpits that flame with righteousness remain faithful to the order of the two greatest commandments of loving God first and then neighbor as self. God is loved first by rightly dividing His Word so people can taste and see that the Lord is good.
The pulpits that flame with righteousness also love neighbor as self. Never is God's Word diminished in authority to direct the lives of all who consider themselves Christian. A refusal to honor the order of the greatest commandments is of the same evil as the Devil attempting to claim the Most High’s throne.
Evil from the pulpit?
“If the devil were to come to town in a body,” shared Vance Havner, “you wouldn’t find him in a nightclub or in a gambling hall … You would more likely find him in a pulpit with a D.D. degree, drawing a salary for denying his own existence.”
By loving God first and then neighbor, the pulpits that flame with righteousness know:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern], But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful [because they serve his hidden agenda] (Proverbs 27:6 Amplified).
The pulpits that flame with righteousness share how God’s righteousness and holiness can tolerate no sin, how God’s authority allows Him to define sin through His Word, and how God’s full love is shown to us through the work of Jesus. Those pulpits preach that we are to repent and follow Jesus to experience the fullness of God’s love.
The pulpits that flame with righteousness are filled with people who are actively seeking personal righteousness before God. Sin is mortified because of the holiness of God. As John Knox wrote, “I have never once feared the devil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit.”
Knox was right not to fear the Devil. Jesus even told us the only one to fear was God Himself because He holds the power to condemn a soul to hell. Those pulpits preach Truth (Christ) in love while simultaneously acknowledging God’s righteous judgment because He is also holy and just.
The pulpits that flame with righteousness don’t want to tickle ears; they want to spark hearts into flame so they burn with righteousness too.
Lord, help those who fill your pulpits seek personal righteousness even as they share your righteousness. Let the pulpits of America flame with righteousness so we all shine for you as we point to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.