Influence Make It Count
On my last birthday, December 31st, I turned sixty-four years of age. I am enjoying myself as a senior adult and there are great advantages in being a senior. For instance, there are senior days at many restaurants that offer discounts, senior day at the ball game, and you can sit in the lobby of any bank and drink free coffee with no one asking you to leave. Regardless of all the perks I am enjoying as a senior, I have decided. I have decided of not to buy into the cliche that says as a senior adult you “get old and set in your ways”. No – not so, I have determined not to get into a self- imposed rut of inflexible ideas about anything.
I realize that every day is a new opportunity to experience more love, power, wisdom, strength and courage that only comes from God, the Father of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because of this, I am asking myself questions like, “What is to be done with my experiences with the one and only true eternal God? Am I to keep them to myself? Am I to share them? And if shared, of what value is it to those with whom it is shared? How will my experiences and actions influence others? Well, to illustrate what I mean and where I’m going with all of this, I will share with you several life changing experiences that God has used to touch and influence many with His love, power, wisdom, strength and courage.
In September 2009, I made my first trip to Washington D.C. and while there, I had planned to visit the Lincoln Memorial. On the day I visited the memorial, I gazed at the refection pool directly in front of President Lincoln’s statue. The Washington Memorial falls in direct view beyond the pool and further still, my eyes came to rest upon the United States Capitol Building. While absorbing this panoramic view of our nation’s Capitol and suddenly at that very moment my attention was drawn to the spot on the steps where I stood. I was standing in the exact spot where history had been made. I was standing where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had stood in 1963 to give one of the most powerful and wonderful speeches pertaining to freedom.
He stood up for the rights of mankind. He stood up for the freedom of the oppressed. His influence motivated by the principles that made America great, Judeo-Christian principles along with “…the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence…” [i] spurred his dream that “…this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”[ii] On August 23, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in the shadow of the statue of the President that had signed the Emancipation Proclamation 100 years before this day. And now, Dr. King was standing for the cause of the Civil Rights of black Americans. Also, of my opinion he too had been influenced by another individual who had stood in that same place only a short 24 years before him.
On Easter Sunday, April 9th, 1939, an extraordinary woman with a beautiful contralto voice, sang “My Country Tis of Thee” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before an audience of 75,000 people. Her name was Marion Anderson. The event was arranged with the help of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and President Roosevelt after she had been denied the opportunity to sing in Constitution Hall – to an integrated audience – because she was black. This performance catapulted her to international recognition. Through an incident of denial, she was put in the spot light and broadcast by radio to an audience of millions across the entire nation. She influenced millions.[iii] Then on August 23rd, 1963 once again she stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the Civil Rights March and sang an old Negro Spiritual “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”.[iv] Again, I am talking influence, mine and yours, and its effects on others.
Days after leaving Washington I thought about my visit to the Lincoln Memorial. My experiences at the Memorial were now rekindled in a fresh way as I was reading the Word of God and came to a scripture with this command “… I now send you to open their eyes in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”[v] My immediate response to His command was – “How do I do that?”
Why do we ask God how He will do something that He had just stated that He would do? He said, “…I NOW SEND YOU.” He had given me a directive to be His spokesperson and He gave the message as my assignment for the mission. He would take care of all the logistics. He then sent me on multiple trips back to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. where I met with Representatives in the halls of Congress and the Senate. One word defines God’s directive – influence.
Try to imagine what a nation and its government would be like if all Christian influence on government were suddenly removed. Within a few years, very few people would have any moral absolutes beyond their individual moral sentiments and moral intuitions, which can be so unreliable.[vi] The results would devastate a society without a Christian influence. Eventually a society with no moral guidance would lend way to become a society where “…everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”[vii] The end result would equal total anarchy.
The ethical foundation upon which the United States of America was influenced by are the Judeo-Christian principles found within the pages of the Holy Bible. However, because of the withdrawn influence of the Church from the public square of life where the exercise of thoughts and ideas grow, the Church has by default abandoned its post. Where these principles had once served our nation as a guide, directing and shaping the culture, now because of the unwillingness of the church to be salt and light as the Lord Jesus Christ commanded, we now live in a culture for the large part being led by a secular, humanistic ideology. This ideology has been given the opportunity of chiseling away at the very foundation upon which our nation was established. It is to that foundation influenced by Judeo-Christian principles to which we must return. Only a revival of Christian influence will turn the present tide and restore America to its influence in a world that looks to her as a leader of that which is good, with hope of a better tomorrow all because of the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To those that would like to express upon reading this piece there does exists other religions in our nation that adhere to their beliefs and system of moral ethics. So then, before proceeding let it be clear that I believe in, support and know that one of the fundamental rights that our nation enjoys is religious liberty as stated in the 1st Amendment of our Constitution regarding the freedom of religious expression given to all men, for we are endowed with inalienable rights given to us by God, our Creator (see Declaration of Independence).
Our nation gives every citizen the right to live and express their religious beliefs as led by their own conscience. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees every American the right to freely exercise and express their religious beliefs, in a manner of peaceful and mutual respect for their neighbors, without restraint or intrusion by the government. However, for the fundamental principles upon which the United States of America was established, it is to the Judeo- Christian principles we need to credit for the overall success of the most free and prosperous nation ever to exist in the history of mankind. Our nation needs the moral guidance that only a Christian influence can bring.
That is why I believe it is imperative for Christians to study and discuss the political issues of our day from a Biblical perspective and then speak publicly about these issues.[viii] You may ask, “What issues are you referencing”? Consider these political issues with significant moral components to them. Just to name a few: War, Same – sex “marriage”, Traditional family values, Abortion, Pornography, Poverty, Care for the environment, Capital punishment, and Education.[ix] There are many others however, this list will demonstrate that the United States has a tremendous need for the Christian moral guidance to influence in all spheres of life.
If Christians are silent about such moral and ethical issues, then where will moral standards come from?[x] If pastors and church members say, “I’ll let somebody else speak about that,” where will a nation’s moral standards come from? [xi] If Christians do not speak publicly to the moral and ethical issues… who will? What will and who will INFLUENCE our nation?
When I was 10 years old our newly elected President John F. Kennedy the 35th President of the United States, in his inaugural address gave to each American citizen a charge concerning individual responsibility in caring for our nation. He said, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”[xii] However, it was President Kennedy’s final words ending his speech that would make the greatest impact on me for the rest of my life as a Christian and as an American when he said, “Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”[xiii] President Kennedy’s reference to “God’s work must truly be our own” agrees with the Word of God that says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”