Gratia Christi, quod Sum, quod Vivo, quoque Laboro facit.
“The grace of Christ makes what I am, what I live, what I do”
National Cultural vs. Culture of Christ
America, as I am fond of saying, is a nation founded in Christ. Columbus, upon discovering the Western Hemisphere, planted a cross and claimed this new-found Continent for Christ. Jamestown was the first English colony in 1607. While the documents founding the colony cite that it is founded in the name of Jesus, in fact it was founded for commercial purposes only. The colonists thought there would be easy pickings. Instead it was hard work and they were not up to the challenge. All but 300 of the first 1,000 colonists died of starvation and disease.
In contrast, the Pilgrims were chartered as a commercial colony, but they actually came to establish a place to worship Jesus Christ in freedom. They too had a hard time and of the 102 colonists who landed half of them died in the first year. But they worked hard and established a Christian commonwealth. Their heritage to us has been a Christian nation.
England, just 100 years after founding the colonies, began to assert unjust dominance over New England. Among many abuses, they threatened to impose the Church of England the colonists. They knew that the vibrancy of their faith and freedom would be stultified. Their New England Pastors took the lead in proclaiming the freedom they had in Christ. Their sermons roused the people to resist the incursions of the English.
The leaders of the thirteen colonies proclaimed that God was the Creator who had endowed life, liberty and pursuit of happiness on free people. He, God Almighty, had established natural laws. Violation of those laws was not only a crime against a people, but against God Himself. It would be He Who executed justice against violators.
The colonists in the Declaration of Independence declared war to establish the United States of America. Their defeat of England was stunning to the European nations. America was a weak and impecunious nation. England was the most powerful and prosperous nation in Europe and likely the world. The American colonists suffered defeat after defeat. The American army escaped total annihilation several times. God intervened on the Colonists side. He brought fog on at lease two occasions to confuse the British. Other times God gave the British forces overconfident stupidity, resulting in their military blunders.
It was like a football game where one team has all the superiority in strength and depth of players. They control the ball longer, gain more yards, complete more passes and their statistics at the end of the game far exceed their opponents, and yet they lose.
Our Nation once begun in Christ grew, carrying the message of Christ into the westward expansion. Yes, they made ungodly blunders. Nevertheless, in civilizing the wild, Wild West Christians built churches to worship Christ. They overwhelmed the lawlessness of the Frontier with the message of Christ. They proclaimed salvation, and through that message they built into the body of the nation faith in salvation through Christ alone. This led to a mature moral culture that opened our Nation to God’s continued blessings.
This was evidenced in Article III. of The Northwest Ordinance (July 13, 1787) which declares “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. ”
Sixty years later the zeal for Christ began to cool and too many of the younger generation had left faith in Christ behind, so the culture took a coarser turn. Love of Christ cooled and fewer upheld Christian morality. America paid the price in the bloody Civil War. God sent a revival sparked by Charles Finney that swept away the ungodly culture and re-established Christ as the Sovereign in our Nation.
Time after time our cooling towards Jesus Christ’s Sovereignty over our Nation has resulted in various National crises. Our embracing Jesus and His way of life has resulted in peace and prosperity. The national culture that turns self-centered and turns it back on Christ results in trouble within the Nation and from outside forces.
The 1960s began the anti-Christian “free love;” and “Question Authority” culture. Youth rejected Christianity and embraced Eastern Mysticism. This sowed seeds that we are reaping in today’s culture. We have a mature generation that has grown up with no awareness of Christianity. They are ignorant of the Bible and the life of Christ. They have adopted their own morality which rejects the limits of Christian morality.
Under this national culture divorce is rampant. Broken homes result in broken children damaged by the loss of the stable mother/father home. Youth enter into ungodly sexual congress earlier and earlier in life. There is the heinous concept that if one had not fornicated by the time they graduate high school there is something wrong with them. Cheating on tests has lost its stigma and is only a problem if one gets caught. This translates into business in “sharp dealing”, i.e. selling a lie. It is reflected in individuals elected to office, whose main purpose is not to govern for the betterment of the people, but to govern in a way that will secure reelection. Perverted sexual congress stems from unnatural desires.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
Christian morality is based in emulating Christ’s love for mankind. It is seeking the good of the other, rather than self-gratification. True maturity is reflected in delayed gratification of desires so that a better result may happen later or to others. Because one finds his or her fulfillment in Christ, all other lustful and covetous desires fade into the nothing-ness that they are.
In Christ, a person develops a healthy self-image. He or she knows that the Sovereign of the Universe, the One True God has adopted, specially selected him or her to be His own. Each person can have an intimate relationship with the Lord of the Universe.
Out of such a relationship, one takes delight in Christ’s love and rejoices in His presence. He actively participates in a believer’s life. All thought and actions begin to transform into those that please Almighty God. Morality of Christ is not onerous, but in fact it frees one from all sorts of negative consequences. Living in Christ’s culture is a way to fulfill your utmost potential and find your greatest satisfaction; all the while you enjoy the love of God.