The United States of America is a nation blessed by God. Throughout history, there has never been a people as blessed as we are. Although one could look at other nations and civilizations from the past and see greater accomplishments, the modern times have provided the setting where not only can we be a great nation, but our affluence can buy us health, safety, and comfort unparalleled in all of history. I have been to Latin American countries, where people have risked their lives to come to this country. When you see the poverty, and even more so, the violence that people live with every day, you can certainly see why they risk everything to come here.
As a nation, we need to see the uniqueness of our land, and see the source of our many blessings. History books well document the powerful influence of Christian awakenings on our nation. The First Great Awakening of the 1700’s prepared the way for a nation of people to free themselves from the hands of oppression. The Second Great Awakening of the early 1800’s brought great moral reformation to our land, establishing a moral authority that became the foundation for much of our future development. The key to the power of these awakenings was the spiritual insight that produced a new level of thinking.
The First Great Awakening challenged the people to have a personal experience with God. In Europe, where most of the people immigrated from, religion was something you were born into based upon your country of origin. The First Great Awakening challenged religious mindsets. It also became the foundation of our nation’s strong emphasis on personal freedom and initiative. This great motivation is exemplified in the expansion of our nation from one coast to another. The Second Great Awakening was influenced by the need for personal holiness, as well as a desire to have social impact. Lyman Beecher, a great voice in that time, said that we needed to not just change people, but to transform society. Movements like The Temperance Movement were so impactful on our nation that individual consumption of alcohol was cut in half. This was very significant, since alcoholism was threatening the very fiber of the society.
So, What Will You Do?
As I review history, the past reflects our present distress, where opiate addiction has been declared a national emergency, impacting every level of society. As Christians, we are often admonished on the need for a revival. A revival occurs when we are stirred to return to a certain level of religious intensity from our past. If we have stepped backwards in our relationship with God, we certainly need it to be revived. However, an awakening is different than a revival. An awakening has fresh insight, and greater experiences, to face the challenge of the present time. The times we live in are different than the past. We do not need to be revived, we need to be awakened! We need to see the realities of this present time, and be awakened to open ourselves up to the challenge of personal transformation, so that we will be able to confront the times with fresh empowerment from God.
Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” In my observation of Christian history, the church has been evolving through the hands of Jesus Christ. We have been growing and developing in order to face every aspect of the history of man. The challenges of civilizations have always been met by a church that was willing to see what was needed for the time. We cannot hold back history. We must not allow ourselves to both change, and adapt, to the times. We must not be changed by the times, but be changed by Jesus Christ in order to face the times. The world needs us! Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” It is time to arise and shine with a greater light, and be the salt God intended!