Is America A Christian Nation?

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This week, I’d like to start with a big question, “Is America a Christian Nation?”

There is a moral revolution going on within our nation.
We are experiencing it right now.
Sometimes it happens faster than you can even keep up with.
We watched it happen this past week when a senator from Hawaii said that Supreme Court Nominee, Amy Coney Barrett had used an offensive term “sexual preference”.
She scolded the nominee saying it was deeply offensive.
The funny thing, is that apparently the rest of the world didn’t know this.
Webster’s Dictionary used it as a definition and proper usage.
Just to show you how fast things change, by Wednesday morning, Webster’s Dictionary had changed the definition to match our changing times.
It marked the term “sexual preference” as an offensive term, something that should not be used.
You are watching things change.
Tuesday morning it was acceptable.
Wednesday unacceptable.
It’s hard to keep up.
It’s hard to keep stay in this morally fluid culture.
Things aren’t what they used to be.
Things aren’t what they used to be 100 years ago.
Things aren’t what they used to be 50 years ago.
Things aren’t what they were on Tuesday.
And you look back on your lives, and you wonder is this the nation I grew up in?
Many times we ask, “Is this a Christian nation?”
Well, let’s look back and see how Christian we were.

First, let’s look at Christopher Columbus

This past Monday was Christopher Columbus day.
That day has now become controversial.
It’s often not even mentioned.
Some have renamed it National Indigenous Peoples day.
There certainly is controversy over the man.
You probably remember the story
He had hoped to sail west and arrive in the East Indies.
He petitioned the King and Queen of Spain to sponsor his little journey.
He hoped to find a quicker and safer trading route.
His name, Christopher, means - Christ-bearer.
He also claimed that he was going to sail so that he could be a Christ-bearer.
He claimed that he was going to sail to the East Indies so that he could proclaim Christ to those who are lost.
It appears that his original motivations were good.
Unfortunately as is the case with many, what someone claims and what someone does are often different things.
Works serve as evidence of your salvation.
Works become a form of assurance to know that you are in Christ.
Works can also become evidence that someone is not in Christ.
Matthew 7:15-16 says, ““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.”
What started out with good statements, ended up being a bad fruit.
Though Columbus claimed to be a Christ-bearer and to bring Christ to the East Indies, his true motivation was riches.
When he landed in Haiti, he was on a quest for gold.
He enslaved the people that were there to help him gather gold.
Overall, it wasn’t a good time for him.
This is where it gets weird.
Columbus went back to Spain.
On his way back, they hit a massive storm.
The weather started getting rough.
The tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the … wait that’s a different story.
They did hit a storm, and it did threaten to kill them.
Columbus was a little superstitious, and he thought that whatever was going on was because of someone’s sin.
Someone did something bad, therefore bad things were happening.
Just so you know, bad things sometimes just happen.
Sometimes they happen to correct us or sanctify us.
Columbus took a handful of beans, one for each person on the boat.
One of the beans was marked with a cross.
Everyone was to take a bean.
Whoever received the bean marked with the cross would be the one who had sinned.
So all the beans were distributed, and who do you think got the marked bean?
Surely this was a mistake.
He thought he was a great guy.
So they drew the beans again.
And for the second time, Columbus received the marked bean.
Two times, he received the marked bean, and two times he failed to recognize his own sin.
Here is a man who was looking for someone to blame.
Twice, the man was revealed to him.
But he never repented.
Columbus ended his career shamefully.
He would return to the New World.
During his third voyage, sometime between 1498 and 1502, Columbus was arrested and sent back to Spain in chains.
Though Columbus was probably a false convert, God was glorified through His efforts.
I’m drawn to Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Columbus was motivated by evil actions.
And yet, despite his evil intentions, people did come to Christ.
i think of David Brainerd, a friend of Jonathan Edwards, who spent his life evangelizing to Native Americans.
He worked himself to death by serving the Lord.
At one point in his life he said, “I hardly ever so long to live to God and be altogether devoted to Him; I wanted to wear out my life in his service and for his glory ...”
Columbus is an important part of our nations history.
He wasn’t motivated by Christ.
He wasn’t seeking to establish a Christian nation.
He was in it for wealth.
But he stands as an example of God’s sovereignty.
Through Columbus’ evil actions, men like David Brainerd and Edwards brought the Gospel to a continent that was removed from them.

There’s a second group I’d like to look at, the Pilgrims.

They were originally separatists.
They had been forced to flee from England, and took residence up in the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands, they prepared to make their new home in the Americas.
They felt some connection to the Israelites in the wilderness.
They were going on voyage not tested, to a land unknown.
There were 2 ships that were going to take these separatists, these Pilgrims across the Atlantic, the Mayflower and the Speedwell.
But just prior to leaving, the Speedwell was found to not be in good enough condition, so only the Mayflower went.
This also meant, that only half of the people could go.
Throughout this process, their intentions and attitudes were different from Columbus.
William Bradford, one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact, and a governor of the Plymouth Colony said, “Like Gideon’s army, this small number was divided as if the Lord by this work of His, Providence, thought these few were still too many for the great work He had to do.”
Though divided, it did not diminish the Lord’s ability to work.
The cool thing about the Pilgrims is that their attitude was always this way.
They trusted in a God in a real way.
Not like many of us who say, “I hope it works out for the best.”
But in an absolute, “God will truly take care of us” sort of way.
And every time God responded in kindness, they made sure to give Him glory.
They saw trials and struggles as the providence of God.
Such as when the Speedwell couldn’t make the journey.
Bradford had to leave some of his own children behind.
And yet he, like the rest, credited God with this work, and sought to exalt His good name.
I’m challenged by the attitude of the pilgrims.
They found such joy in God.
Many times, when we encounter difficulty, trials, and full on opposition, who do we credit?
I’ve heard many people give Satan credit.
“I guess Satan just doesn’t want us to go to America.”
But who did the Pilgrims credit?
They certainly won’t credit Satan with something that was planned and governed by God, that would be blasphemy!
The journey wasn’t easy.
They were stuck in the belly of the Mayflower for 7 weeks.
Don’t think that this was a Disney Cruise either.
This wasn’t a smooth ride.
Being in the belly, they felt ever tilt and turn of the boat.
They were sick.
But during this time in the belly of the ship, God did 2 things for them.
First they learned to get a long.
It was said of their journey, “Their plight in the belly of the Mayflower, before being disgorged onto the Promised land; the four months of general sickness … so that when they finally stood on their feet, they stood together as a body. And they were thus able to pass on to the Puritans a proven model by which to build.”
It made them a single unit.
Remember, when they started there was double the number.
Who knows if double could have accomplished as much.
The second thing that they did was the opposite of Columbus, they spent their time confessing and repenting of sins.
They couldn’t do a whole lot in that ship.
So they used their time as a time of self-examination.
They understood God’s hatred of sin, and wanted to use it to please God.
Their arrival was just as treacherous, but still God glorifying.
They landed in what is known as Plymouth Massachusetts.
This was a huge act of God.
This was one area where there were peaceful Native Americans living.
Had they landed further north or south, they probably would have been killed.
It was here that they met Squanto and Massasoit.
Squanto taught them how to survive.
Massasoit provided food and much needed support.
It seems as if God prepared these men before their arrival.
I’m sure you’ve heard stories of that first winter in 1621-22.
This was a starving time.
There was not enough food for the people.
They lived off of 5 kernels of corn a day.
Somehow, they didn’t complain.
Instead, they tanked God for those 5 kernels of corn, and praised Christ for His kindness.
After all, He knows exactly what they needed.
And apparently 5 kernes is all they needed.
When the winter ceased, they had their first good harvest.
They enjoyed some luxury.
But this became an example of pride.
How quickly, a bit of luxury, raises the human soul in pride.
Edward Winslow, one of the men with them, knew something was wrong.
“Now were our hopes overthrown and we discouraged, our joy turned into mourning … because God, which hitherto had been our only shield and supporter, now seemed in His anger to arm himself against us. And who can withstand the fierceness of His wrath?”
They set aside times of prayer, fasting and repentance.
These were official times.
All the people did this.
They wanted to know where they were proud, where they needed humbled, and what the lesson from the Lord was.
The Puritans knew how to examine themselves, and they knew how to respond.
They sought simplicity.
They listened to sermons.
They found doctrine and sound teaching very important.
A good sermon was at least 2 hours long.
If a preacher preached a sermonette that was only 45 minutes long, they considered it an insult.
Though they wanted a good long sermon, it didn’t mean people didn’t occasionally rest their eyes, if you know what I mean.
They hired a tithing man.
The tithing man wasn’t hired by the pastor, and it wasn’t a job assigned by the clergy or the elders.
This was something the people in the church, the people in the seats assigned to keep themselves accountable.
The tithing man’s job was to keep people awake.
He carried a large staff, called a knocker.
On one end of the staff was a feather or a fox tail.
If he found a woman sleeping, he’d gently tickle her head with the feather or tail.
On the other end was a brass knob.
That was used for the men
They did influence our nation.
The Pilgrims understanding of humanity wasn’t that our nation would be a Christian nation or that every generation would be Christlike.
Instead, they understood the depravity of man.
They understood man’s propensity to sin.
Their starting point of man was that he is a sinner.
This understanding was passed on to the framers of our Constitution.
Those balance of powers that we hear about.
Especially now.
We are watching the balance of powers act.
The Senate confirms judges.
Congress makes law.
The Executive branch makes nominations.
The power of our government is broken up into these 3 branches because man is sinful.
Our nation is built not on the idea that we all are Christians.
Our rules, laws, and order are established because we are sinners.

So the question is, Is America a Christian nation?

I think the answer is no.
Christianity may have influenced the founding of our nation, but there has always been the understanding that we sin.
It’s not a matter of making heaven on earth.
It’s always been about living under the Lordship of Christ.
So what is our goal?
Our goal is to point people to Christ.
To help them see Him.
God never made a covenant with our nation like He did with Israel of old.
God has not made any promises to our nation.
Every generation is responsible to repent.
Every generation needs to hear of Christ.
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