Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, is making a tour of the capitals of all the states. He is on a prayer crusade to emphasize the need of America getting back to God. If there is any chance for what is broken in this nation to be fixed, Graham is highlighting the solution. It is humble, repentant, prayer to the one true God by average citizens of this country that will bring the healing of the nation. Nothing else will do. The reason is that we have strayed from God and His ways.
We have eliminated what were once called the blue laws, which were a collective respect for the commandment to keep a day for rest and worship. They are now mocked by any historian who remembers that they were once part of the national landscape.
We have so lost respect for marriage that many people have broken their vows more than once, some have made a mockery of the institution by dragging the abominable into its definition, and others have given up on it altogether. The minority now keep the vow they made which promised “till death do us part.”
If we don’t actually pull a trigger or thrust in a knife, many carry hatred for their neighbor in their hearts. This shows up in speech which demeans others for having different skin pigmentation, or for different national origin, or for holding different political views. Hatred in the heart violates the sixth commandment as surely as hands around someone’s neck. Read the comments following articles on the internet and you will see murder multiplied.
We have lost respect for the very name of God, and use it profusely. How many conversations are punctuated by the phrase, “Oh, my G__!”? How many people would say that they really don’t mean anything by it, it is just an empty phrase? That is the exact definition of taking it in vain. Others say “God bless you” and in their mouths it is just as worthless.
If “looking to lust” were not the attraction, a large percentage of internet sites, advertisements, movies, and magazines would be out of business. Yet the adultery industry is so main stream that people almost yawn when someone points out that they which do such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. That leaves only one alternative: hell.
We have become a nation of skeptics, because not only our neighbors, but our leaders have spoken so many words that have proven to be false. Who can find an honest speaker? Where is the man of integrity whose word is his honor? This is so acceptable in public life that we no longer demand it, but rather admire it if it happens to promote our personal political favorite. Somewhere along the line we must rediscover the truth that all liars have their part in the lake of fire.
We have almost forgotten the word “restitution.” There was a time when numerous testimonies of conversions to Christ included accounts of how what was stolen was returned to the rightful owner. We seldom hear of that kind of transformation. Are stolen articles somehow sanctified in our day when someone makes a profession of faith? Hardly. There is still the instruction to “restore the pledge,” and “Thou shalt not steal” is still number eight out of ten.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with the whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we love God, how would we demean His name, His day, His person, or substitute something else in His place? The second part of the commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. If we did that, how could we kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, covet, or dishonor parents? It would not happen. Love fulfills the commandments about God and man. Yet our nation is filled with people obsessed with self-love which ignores God and harms others. Division, anger, alienation, and heartbreak mar the landscape of this once beautiful America.
It is no wonder Graham is praying. We should be too. We should pray that people would see their sin, that they would know that the soul that sinneth shall die, and that they shall understand that the wicked are turned into hell along with any nation that forgets God.
What is the purpose of going through these national and personal sins? Why not go right to the gospel? The reason is that unless people know they are sinners, they will see no need of a savior. Unless we are confronted with sin leading to eternal separation from God – hell – we really see no need of salvation. So the law is a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. Without Christ there is no help to escape the clutches of sin. Without Christ there is no hope. But there is hope!
God has not forgotten us. He so loved the world that He sent His son, Jesus of Nazareth, to go to the cross and die for our sins. He took our sins, our selfishness, our hurt. He took it all to the cross. There He made the sacrifice that was necessary to bring us salvation. There He bought us redemption. There He paid sin’s penalty. There He ransomed us. There He made it possible for us to be justified. There He brought us to God.
So we should pray. Those who do not know God should pray the sinner’s prayer. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” prayed the publican. And he went home justified. There is good hope for anyone who humbly acknowledges his or her need. God gives grace to the humble.
Those who do know God should also pray. What should we pray? “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38). “How can they hear without a preacher?” Paul asked (Rom. 10:14b). Somebody needs to tell the story of Jesus, the savior from sin, or people will not even know they need Him. A lot of people in our nation have no clue that they need forgiveness for sins or that it is even available.
A group of Christian students came from an evening fellowship meeting and were still singing together near a bus stop on a university campus. A student watched them for a while and then walked up to them asking who they were. She was intrigued by their demeanor and stayed with them after her bus had come and gone. I was with them and a few of us were traveling her direction so we offered her a ride. We told her that we were Christians and thankful to be saved. She didn’t have any idea what we were saved from, so we showed her a list of sins from the Bible. “I didn’t know anybody lived without doing those things,” she said. We told her about how Jesus could change a life. It was the first time she had ever heard such a thing.
She is not alone in her ignorance. We have high profile people waving Bibles around who know as little as she did about the need and possibility of having forgiveness of sins. Let’s take Franklin Graham’s example and follow it. Pray for America.