What Do We Hope to Change?
Part 4

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Having identified our primary concerns as being our nation’s failure to accomplish its divine purpose of drawing the hearts of people back to God and the silence of God’s people regarding moral matters in our culture, what is it we hope to change? Ultimately, we desire to see our nation repent and become obedient to God. As such, it seems natural that we should focus our efforts on changing the beliefs and behavior of Americans. Should we then seek to address our concerns by altering our nation’s laws? In other words, should we primarily focus on changing the culture via legislation?

Although we often speak of “the culture” in monolithic terms, reality is far more complicated. There isn’t any one culture that defines America—or even the majority of America today. Our nation consists of several divergent cultures. It seems that each generation has developed its own set of customs and values, which are often a repudiation of the prior generation. The culture of the Greatest Generation is distinct from that of the Baby-Boomers. In fact, the Baby-Boomers defined entire decades by the rejection of their parents’ customs and values. Likewise, to some degree, Generation X rejected much of their parents’ culture—as have Generation Y (the Millennials) and, it appears from our limited data, Generation Z. In all honesty, we have at least five very distinct generations living together, resulting in an all-out culture war.

The solution to the culture war, for many Christians, has been a return to the mindset of a previous generation. However, in their heyday every generation’s dominant culture progressed our nation further along the same perilous path. Even if we were to return to the cultural mindset of the Greatest Generation, we would still be a nation that is becoming increasingly immoral while God’s people become increasingly silent. Granted, it may be an improvement from what we are experiencing today, but it still wouldn’t be sufficient to truly address our primary concerns because people’s hearts would remain unmoved.

Other Christians have found it easier to enforce morality via legislation than to persuade people to submit their will to God. Certainly, we hope that our involvement in political grassroot movements will result in positive national change, but success in these areas is unlikely to produce the transformative change we truly desire. Indeed, Christians have already tried this and failed.

In the 1980’s, the Moral Majority movement witnessed great success in enacting new laws designed to preserve righteousness and to protect traditional values. Although there were many good things that came from this movement, we ultimately learned that changing a person’s behavior without changing the heart is self-defeating. All it can do is delay the inevitable. So, while we can, and should, be involved in the legislative process, the difference we are seeking to make as forerunners cannot be exclusively legislative.

The way a person behaves is merely a manifestation of what that person believes. Likewise, how a nation behaves stems from what its citizenry believes. Ultimately, lasting and meaningful change requires that people change the way they think, but it is difficult to influence the thinking of an entire nation if we do not have a national platform from which to speak. Whose thinking, then, should we target?

We can be far more influential if we will focus our efforts toward the people in our natural spheres of influence: Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors. These are people who already love and respect us. As such, they are much more likely to consider what we have to say. Likewise, they are much more likely to respond to what we have to say. Therefore, as forerunners, we ought to prioritize individuals, choosing to influence the nation by influencing the way the people in our own communities think about moral matters.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.