Pastor Jason, we read of ongoing concern about “the fall of Christendom” in the US, i.e., that the US is no longer a “Christian nation”. What is your perspective on the difference between Christendom and the Church?
I think that in the US, or any culture founded with Judeo-Christian principles, there is this idea that the nation is holy or favored by God. Historically, I would say there is some accuracy to that. But the concept of Christendom as having a geo-political definition, which kind of came out of the middle-ages, is not Biblical this side of the fall of Israel.
The only time that God promised land, now, was in the Promised Land. When we read Revelation, we see that upon Christ’s second coming, He will set up a physical kingdom. However, right now, there is no physical kingdom of Christ. At least that’s how I interpret the scriptures. There is no geo-political nation we look at today and say, “this is God’s country”.
That is offensive to a lot of Americans. Yet it does not mean that Christians in America don’t value this land, don’t pray for its success, or that we don't want to see the Kingdom of God advance in America. Rather, it is just that we see them as different things.
I grew up in a “God and country” mentality. We could sing America the Beautiful as a hymn on a Sunday morning. But when you have a better understanding of the global church, you come to understand that it's much bigger than that. It’s greater than that.
There are more Christians per capita in places like South Korea, parts of Brazil, parts of north Africa, than there are here. So, we don't want to act as though “America the Beautiful” is God’s Kingdom.
For me, it was having a better understanding of missions and really reading what the scriptures were saying. You know, America doesn't pop up in the New Testament.
If you read Chronicles, for example, you see the waxing and waning of those kingdoms. There are some kings that “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”. There were others that didn't. And all of those kings were from the same party, the same line.
This idea we have that a particular party will lead us, the church, is detrimental and I think is very dangerous. I think issues present themselves such that Christians can more easily get behind one party or another. But when it is a person, we have to remember that we are all fallen. So, putting hope there is faulty.
Regardless of what happens, we know there will be a believing-remnant in any given country. Further, we need to remember what happened to people like that. Jeremiah called out for truth and found himself in a cistern. Jonah gave a half-hearted message to a people he didn't like and saw revival. So, we shouldn't interpret the cultural waves as being indicative of where God’s hand is at work.
One of my favorite passages is I Corinthians 16:9 where Paul plans to stay in Ephesus because “a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries”.
I think that because we are Americans we think that if the church is doing well it should come easy. But, throughout history, it was kind of the opposite. Even today, when the church is growing, it’s not easy.
So, here, we enjoy and continue to enjoy a lot of rights that are important and for which we should advocate. But we cannot become lazy and think it should be easy—because it’s not.
In summary, regarding Christendom, we have to push back against this false notion of a geo-political Christian kind of kingdom set up by anyone other than Jesus Christ.