“America needs God more than God needs America. If we ever forget that we are “one nation under God,” then we will be a nation gone under” – Ronald Reagan
It was President Ronald Reagan who in his address to the Republican National Convention in the city of Dallas in 1988 that said, “America needs God more than God needs America. If we ever forget that we are “one nation under God,” then we will be a nation gone under.” The current resurgence of the 1820 to 1870 years, a crucial period in the history of hate and racial prejudice in the America political and religious terrains calls for concern. The protest by hundred of US white nationalists at the University of Virginia waving and chanting “White lives matter” through the Charlottesville university has been linked to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) movement. The far-right white supremacists group aptly described as domestic terrorism with some members carrying assault rifles and wearing paramilitary-style clothing was a demonstration in support of how to ‘Make America Great Again,’ which resonates with President Trump’s campaign slogan and policy.
Robert Jeffress, a Texas megachurch pastor and one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers who preached the morning of Trump’s inauguration also emphasised the urgency to “Make America Great Again.” According to Jeffress, “Psalm 33:12 gives us the starting point for making that happen: ‘Blessed — great — is the nation whose God is the Lord.’” Before President Trump’s inauguration, Jeffress in one of his sermons with Trump in attendance said ‘God is not against building walls!’ To justify his preaching, Jeffress compared Trump to the story of the biblical leader Nehemiah who helped rebuild the city of Jerusalem and its walls after the people of Judah had been exiled from the land of Israel. According to Jeffress, God chose a builder instead of a politician or a priest to rebuild the shamble state of American infrastructure and a wall to protect Americans from enemy attack.
Jeffress’s statement that “… God is not against building walls” with reference to Nehemiah’s 52 days project could be in error (Neh 6:15). Before his call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah held very responsible position of cupbearer, a eunuch to King Artaxerxes, powerful king of Persia. He was a personal advisor than merely something like a butler. What Jeffress failed to tell Trump is that, like in the Book of Ezra, Nehemiah expands the purpose and importance of physical rebuilding and spiritual rebuilding going hand in hand. Building of walls is not ‘inculcation of some new laws’ that would ‘Make America Great Again’ or create its new identity. Jeffress failed to tell Trump that it is the Americans commitment to recovering of their identity in God that would ‘Make America Great Again,’ starting with Trump and especially his ‘evangelical’ advisers.
Nehemiah gathered together and rallied people from all walks of life – goldsmiths, perfume makers, priests, merchants, all ages and colours and led them in accomplishing the great assignment. The challenge today is that America is working and moving towards fulfilling Reagan’s prophetic statement that “… If we ever forget that we are “one nation under God,” (not One blood, One nation) then we will be a nation gone under.” Hateful and racial speeches are major broken walls that calls for urgent attention in America as ‘one nation under God.’ When we allow our walls to crumble, when we reject God’s Word, Satan struck (Ecc 10:8). There are many Americans lives that are broken by the effects of sin, with no hope for a better future, except under God. Many Americans lives ‘are broken because they have been hurt by those from who they are supposed to receive love from. Hurt by parents, friends, and spouses who deserted them.’ American democracy is broken, churches and many homes are broken. People no longer does the whole truth of the word of God. Most pulpits across America are bringing forth a watered down version of a socially accepted feel good gospel.
Have we not gotten away from ‘in God we trust,’ to ‘in our nuclear weapon and army we boast?’ Is it not ridiculous for Jeffress, a notable presidential evangelical adviser to be saying that God has given authority to Trump to take out Kim Jong Un? The question is, what is the different between Trump and Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader? If truly Jeffress believe in Psalm 33:12, “Blessed – great – is the nation whose God is the Lord,” then that should be the starting point for Americans to return to God so as to ‘Make America Great Again.’ There is no one without sin hence, no one has the moral right and authority to take out other leader; ‘no earthly leader gets the authority to do whatever.’
Jeffress reference to Roman 13 that “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,” could be out of context. Roman 13 is ‘plainly about Christians’ response to the governing authority they live under, and does not begin to address how one governing authority is to deal with other nations.’ God’s way is different from man’s way and strategy. The word of God to America in such a time as this says “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is 55:6-9).
Just as Nehemiah was only part of God’s plan, President Trump is only part of God’s plan for America, there are several average, ordinary, everyday people ready to work together in unity with a common goal ‘in God we trust.’ Lives are at stake, eternity is on the line. Homes and churches in America must first rebuild their broken walls before they can reunite Americans. Nehemiah understood the power of community and not the division of community. Prayer built much of Nehemiah’s wall. Fervent intercessory prayer erects broken walls. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Using the words of a former President of America, Abraham Lincoln, let us pray for healing of American homes as the strength of the nation. Let us pray that American homes would be ‘a sanctuary where God is honoured, worshipped and obeyed. A castle dedicated to holiness, to all that is right and good. A citadel where our children can learn to honour God and others. A bastion where we can pray, study, and enjoy quiet family time. A stronghold where Satan’s thoughts, ways, attitudes and teachings are kept out, uninvited. A safe haven that is guarded actively, vigorously and consciously.’