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God Doesn't Want a Christian Nation on Paper; A Christian People by Heart by Andy Sanders

By Andy Sanders
"Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in" (Psalm 24:7 NIV). I understand that our nation and many others were founded on Christian principles. I am also aware that there are many serious issues arising to the surface in our country that are in severe jeopardy. This country is going through an extremely challenging time—one of the most severe and serious moments that we've ever seen. America needs a lot of prayer and many miracles. In light of the election results, we must also understand the times that we are in. God is far more interested in devoted Christians serving Him all over the world than a political office candidate who may or may not serve Him.
 
 
 
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"Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in" (Psalm 24:7 NIV).
 
I understand that our nation and many others were founded on Christian principles. I am also aware that there are many serious issues arising to the surface in our country that are in severe jeopardy. This country is going through an extremely challenging time—one of the most severe and serious moments that we've ever seen. America needs a lot of prayer and many miracles.
 
In light of the election results, we must also understand the times that we are in. God is far more interested in devoted Christians serving Him all over the world than a political office candidate who may or may not serve Him. We are not a Christian nation merely because it was written on paper centuries ago; we are a Christian nation because we refuse to waver in our faith as individual people all across this country. We are not a country that serves the Lord from the (top) president down, but rather from the hearts of the people up to God.
 
I am not moved at all by who our current or new president is because my faith is anchored far deeper than in a person that resides within an oval office. We serve a King who sits in a golden seat with unlimited resources and enough heavenly artillery to fix anything. Regardless of the election outcome, you and I still have to work our fields day in and day out. The new president and leaders are preparing for their office, and there is a vast distance between their lifestyle and ours.
 
We must stop basing our faith and future hope for America in a politician; we must start putting our hope in Christ. There isn't one single country on earth where every single person in that country is truly serving the Lord. There may be nations that declare themselves to be Christian on paper, foundationally, but not within the hearts of all their citizens. If they all were, where would the refining be?
 
One of the most powerful and effective churches on earth is the underground church in China—found in a country which, on paper, has nothing to do with Christ. When I was in China for a month in 2008, we enjoyed the supernatural presence of God on a daily basis without ever stepping foot into a single church building. The underground church doesn't depend on any form of government assistance or backing. They don't get deductions, grants, support, or even non-profit status, but they continue to grow by the millions! Their infrastructure, support, and financial backing rests solely on God—and this is where the Lord is leading the American church; He is getting us to a place where we depend on Him alone and do not wait for government to lead the church, but let the church lead the government.
 
Look how much we have all grown in just the past ten years. Had it been any other way, we—the American church—would have become even more lethargic and sleepy. God is attempting to wake us, causing us to trust Him more than any other source in our lives.
 
"But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:13 NIV).
 
What makes strong Christians is adversity—the ability to walk in faith while treading through faithless circumstances. When things are good, our American churches empty out. I remember the night of 9/11; the church I was serving in at the time was packed that night with people praying and weeping on their knees. Some of them hadn't been in church for years prior to that tragic event.
 
Oftentimes, our desire for a better president rests within our own selfish desires to not want suffering, discomfort, and pain. But when things are tough we have a greater reason to pray and believe.  In 2014 to 2105, I walked through two of the toughest years of my Christian life. Deaths, betrayal, and a hard economy stretched me to my limits daily. In 2015, three hundred of those days were a blur.
 
Though I would not want to repeat those two years again, looking back I realize that the tough season refined me more than any other. In America, we too often want to run from conflict and discomfort while God is trying to teach us how to rise, turn, and fight as one body worldwide. God wants us to be as strong, spiritually, as those Christians who suffer daily in third-world countries because of their Christian faith.
 
Nothing Else can Be Your Identity but Christ
 
"Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all" (Colossians 3:11 NIV).
 
Paul told the newly-formed church that it was much less about their worldly identity (race, color, gender, political and social status, occupation, etc.) and far more about the identity of Christ-like, Christians. That being said, everyone who was in Christ was now in the kingdom of heaven as one. To many Jews (along with some newly converted Gentiles back then), this written statement from Paul would have been extremely offensive.
 
When Paul wrote "Jew or Gentile," he was referring to the fact that there is no race in Christ (Jew, Gentile, Israeli, German, African, American, Chinese, etc.) and that in Christ they/we are all one now. This means that He cares less about your skin color (or nationality) and more about your walk with Him. Then Paul goes a step further and says, "Circumcised or uncircumcised."  If the first one didn't offend you, he drove the nail in one step further because he was now denouncing certain religious obligations that so many of us hold dear and some fight way too hard for. (Baptist or Pentecostal; once saved always saved or not; pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation? Can you drink wine and still be saved? What if a black man married a white woman? Can a pedophile find repentance? Is it okay for Christians to smoke? Should we worship on Saturday or Sunday? Are Christians allowed to have tattoos? Can a woman be a pastor? If someone committed suicide can they go to heaven?  Can you be Christian and vote a certain way? etc.) Paul was tearing down certain belief systems that oftentimes do nothing but form more dividing walls within the body of Christ. He addressed the fact that regardless of what we may believe, others may still believe differently—and be just as born again as we are. The main belief as a Christian is that there is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ alone. This was Paul's point!
 
Let's look a little further. Paul goes on to write "barbarian or Scythian," and if the prior statements bothered you this one will definitely cause you to stand up or faint. For Paul to say these things to the Christians living in that time period would be extremely hard for them to accept. Barbarians were those who lived on the outskirts of life (nomadic) and people who did not practice civilization the way the Romans, Jews, and Gentiles did. They were brute beasts of humans—uncaring, unfair, and just plain disgusting people. If you think "backwoods on morphine, extremely dirty, and mixed with hard Vodka every day" you are thinking barbaric in modern terms. This would have been offensive to say the least, but Paul was clearly saying to the new Christians if a barbarian finds God, you are to love them like family in the Lord.
 
Then for the grand finale—Paul goes on to mention the word "Scythian."  This group defined evil in a whole new way. During this time period, if a newly converted Christian was drinking their morning coffee while reading this statement from Paul, they would have surely choked and died! Scythians were past the concept of being brutal. They were the lowest form of scum-of-the-earth class for that culture. Not only were they uncivilized, they were born and bred to be savage beasts. Burping at the table? No. More like having sex while eating chicken for dinner in front of the kids while grandma is having an orgy party over in the corner. Writing this placed the nail in the coffin to all forms of earthly barriers that Paul knew would divide and bind the church. In order to love a Scythian, one must have a supernatural Jesus living inside of them.
 
And if a converted Jew can love a Scythian, then why can't we love the person we can't stand to see in church on Sunday?
 
If you are a Christian, this is your highest identity on earth. Far more than a political affiliate, the color of your skin, the social class that you are in, and the president you support. Not one of these things listed make or break you!  There are too many Christians right now fighting each other inside the church over Trump or Hillary, blue lives or black lives, Obamacare or not—and it needs to stop immediately! The enemy is using these types of media-driven topics to divide the American church. 
 
Becoming a spotless, pure bride doesn't come through political candidates and our perfect presidential pick (see 2 Peter 1:5-9). Choosing to love, learning to forgive, and walking out endurance in unendurable times is what refines our faith. Keep your head up and fight the good fight—the fight of faith. This is far more important than what a political fight can bring.
 
Andy Sanders
 

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