I don’t think there is much question about it—the United States is a nation in decline. Whether we speak of a decreased standard of living or increased moral decay, we do not live in a visibly promising time. The sad reality of our current circumstances is no surprise to anyone with even a touch of gray hair. It wasn’t all that long ago when we stood as a nation to be admired and envied.
The Bible provides many examples of the rising and falling of nations. If Israel’s history were a roller coaster ride, it would probably be a nationwide attraction! Sadly, her repeated failures left a trail of damaged and destroyed lives.
Interestingly, the Bible never documents Israel declining because of the sins of her surrounding neighbors—it was Israel’s own sin that brought her painfully low as a nation. Let’s face it—the world will always be the world. We won’t find people who don’t know Christ lining up to advance His purposes. Israel rose and fell based on the behavior of the people of God.
I’ve never considered the United States to be a Christian nation. Although many of our founders were sincere believers in Christ, and although many of our laws were established on Scriptural principles, our governmental system was not designed to force people along any particular line of belief. Still, the influence of the church has been huge throughout our history—until recent years, that is.
The Salt of the Earth?
Jesus once said to His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (Matthew 5:13, NASB).
This passage is somewhat difficult for us to grasp because the words are hard and we are not accustomed to salt losing its flavor. Salt from the Dead Sea, however, was a different story. Over time, when corrupted by moisture, the sodium chloride would leach from their “salt” leaving only a bunch of tasteless—and worthless minerals.
If the decline of the United States is ever to be reversed, it will not begin with our government officials. No, the change can come only through the influence of the church. But what change can the church initiate, if she has been corrupted by the world’s way of doing things?
Recently, I spoke to a well-educated Christian leader who runs a leadership training ministry. In spite of the success that he has seen, this man is frustrated by a pervasive lack of spiritual fruit in the lives of the senior Christian leaders he encounters. In principle, he sees them professing to build the kingdom of God, but in practice, their lives are beset by pride, insecurity, and shallow faith.
What Can We Do?
If the salt of the earth has lost its saltiness, what are we to do? I can think of two appropriate responses on our part.
1. We can renew our personal relationships with God. Jesus isn’t a good luck charm to provide us with happier lives. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords—the all in all of our existence. Unless our relationship with Christ is central to the core of our existence, our lives will be flavored more by the world than by the gospel. Not one of us is beyond hope, but neither can we do anything of lasting value apart from Christ.
2. We can pray for our church leaders. Simply recognizing that there is a problem with the church at large is insufficient, and avoiding church involvement runs contrary to the heart of the Scriptures. Pastoring has to be one of the most influential, as well as most difficult, jobs on the face of the planet. Praying regularly—and in faith—for our senior leaders is a powerful discipline that we would all do well to develop.
Salt from the Dead Sea became worthless when it lost its flavor. The “saltiness” of the church, however, can be regained was we wholeheartedly pursue Christ and live anointed by His Spirit. The United States may indeed be a nation in decline, but God isn’t finished with us yet!