Monday, November 23, 2020

The 7 Mountains of Influence in Society: Government & Family


I love talking about these seven mountains of influence in society. It’s really interesting to dig into this stuff. But unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and today we talk about the last two hills, government and family. 

First, the hill of government. What a pertinent topic, we recently had a presidential election, along with senate elections, house of representative elections, state elections, local elections and so on. So what is the hill of government? Essentially government for us, either allows us to freely share the gospel, and upholds righteousness and justice, or government is also able to block our ability to spread the gospel, and can also become something that propagates injustice, corruption, and spreads and encourages evil instead of good.

In countries like China, or North Korea, or nations in the middle east, you can be arrested or even killed for teaching the good news about Jesus Christ. Those would be examples of governments that hinder the spread of the gospel.

So in the United States thankfully we do still have religious liberty, where we are free to talk about Jesus and spread the gospel. But that could always change. Sometimes we think it could never happen here, but it could. All you would have to have are certain laws that say it’s hate speech to talk about Jesus, or laws that proclaim Christianity is evil and can’t be allowed to hurt people anymore. It’s really not as unlikely as it might seem. Some have tried to create laws that mandate ministers would have to perform certain ceremonies or services that would violate their conscience. That is a form of disrupting the spread of the gospel. So I hope you’re praying for our nation. There are those in our country who don’t want Christians to be able to speak. They’d rather we be silenced.

But in the United States we have these wonderful protections, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and the freedom to preach the gospel. And it’s great. Let’s never take that for granted. It’s a huge blessing that many do not enjoy in other nations.

But another important truth about government is that government can either encourage and uphold righteousness or distort and destroy righteousness and impose evil.

When government creates a law that stealing is a crime, this is a good thing, it encourages right living. When government creates laws the benefit couples for being married and staying married, once again, you have laws that are encouraging godliness. If you have a law that makes bribery wrong, and punishable by fines or jail time, once again you have a law that discourages evil, and encourages good things. That’s why we have laws against rape, or child abuse, laws against speeding, laws against disorderly conduct, and laws against drunk driving. All these laws, if they are functioning correctly should discourage evil and encourage good. It’s all based on basic morality in one way or another.

But the opposite can also occur as well. What do we do when government laws encourage evil and discourage good? That’s when things get really messy. Think of ancient Rome where it was illegal to be a Christian for a long time. Christians were required to worship the emperor of Rome, and if they didn’t they would go to jail. What happens when a society encourages drug use or alcoholism, or when a government encourages bribery or corruption or forces a set of values on us that we don’t agree with?

Government can become something that encourages evil, instead of good.

So how are we doing in the battle on this hill of government? Well, I think in many ways we are doing well. We still have religious liberty. We still have the Constitution, and basic human rights enshrined in the bill of rights. But we certainly do see an increasing wickedness in our country. Of course what can government do about something like that? Ultimately it’s up to churches and Christians to uphold good morals in society. But do see our government spending and spending, there are trillions and trillions of dollars of debt, and it just keeps getting worse. You see the sanctity of human life is not respected in our country in many ways. You see increasing corruption in the business and banking world, you see ever increasing taxes. You see poverty, and welfare and jobs and credit cards and gambling and casinos and drug addiction, the opioid crisis, human trafficking, and on and on the list goes. It’s quite a struggle, and a lot of these things can be either discouraged or encouraged by this battle on the hill of government.

So which is you is God calling to be active on this hill of government? I love politics myself, I find it all quite interesting and I’m always watching, and praying, and speaking with others about it. Is God calling you to advocate for justice in government? Maybe God is calling you to run for office someday. Maybe God is calling you to be a poll watcher, or a city council member, or a trustee, or to work in some form on the government level. Pray about it. And be sure to stay informed, as a Christian, you should be always praying for those who are in positions of authority in government, scripture makes that clear.

So now we talk about the hill of family. And how often have we heard how “the family is under attack in the united states?” Yes I’ve heard that many times. And I think it is quite true. For children to be raised well, to be cared for, and find safety and love and encouragement and discipline, it’s so important for children to have a mother and a father who are of one accord, who are followers of Jesus, who are married together, not just by a piece of paper, but who have become one flesh, as God describes it in the Bible, who are network of love and protection for their children.

This is the most basic unit of our society, the family, mother, father, sons, and daughters. And it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a godly thing. God designed it this way. And it works quite well, when it runs properly. You have the authoritative presence of the father, stern, yet kind, loving, yet disciplining. And you have the mother you authoritative loving presence, kind, gentle, wise, able to teach, strong yet sweet, and so on.

So we find that the family is a hill in itself. And there is a battle going on on this hill, for either God’s design for family, or the evil one’s design for family.

I recall visiting grandma and grandpa, on my moms side or my dads side. And it was just normal to always see grandma and grandpa together. That sort of beautiful strong, unmovable family reality was a great thing to witness for me. They didn’t dare get divorced, it was unthinkable. I’ve heard the stories of this mindset, where it was so incredibly rare, it just never happened. Now you can argue if that was a bad thing or a good thing, or if it hid abuse, but they dealt with those issues and divorce was unthinkable. I want that to be my mindset as well, once I get married. And no I’m not there yet. Not even close really.

So how are we doing on this hill of family? Well, it seems like it’s not very good. There is a lot of divorce and remarriage in our society. That is not a good thing. My parents actually got divorced. I know many of you here who are children of divorced families. It’s a very painful thing. You never quite heal from it. So I don’t think that we’re doing very well on this hill. But also did you know that the divorce rate has dropped over the last 10 to 20 years? Right now we’re actually at the same divorce rate of the 1970s, which isn’t that great, but it’s a lot better than it used to be. So more and more people are actually getting married and staying married. Sometimes we can have a lot of doom and gloom about this topic, but it’s not quite as bad as we think. There are signs of hope.

Maybe we’re just adjusting as a society to new norms. Do you remember when it was fairly normal in the United States for families and extended families to all live in the same area? That’s actually how I grew up, employers back then wouldn’t constantly hire and fire people. If you got hired, it was pretty normal in many professions to spend the rest of your life at that same job and retire from that job in the same city where you were born. Growing up my whole extended family for the most part lived in my hometown of Wausau. We could drive to grandmas, or the other grandmas, or the uncles or aunts, to visit my cousin, and it was never more than fifteen minutes to get there. Many of them still live there.

But think about today. For me, I live in Michigan, my dad lives in Wisconsin, and my mom and sister live in South Carolina. Not quite as easy to stop over for a visit. Maybe that’s at least part of why family has broken down. But there are of course other concerns as well, like changing marriage laws, and changing norms about gender roles, and changing norms about morality, and love, and sex, and children, and just about everything else. It really is a turbulent time to try to get married and have a family.

We see a lot of single mothers and single fathers in our society. A lot of absent fathers, and absent mothers. Whenever we see a younger couple married and caring for their children, it’s a beautiful thing though. It’s great.

So we see this battle playing out in many different ways, from how children are raised, to how marriage should be defined, and how men and women relate to each other, and how society and media view morality.

I think one of the best ways you can fight this battle on the hill of family is to love your family, pray for your family, protect your family, and teach your family about Jesus. I know many of us come from broken homes, and broken situations. But we serve a God who heals, saves, and strengthens families. Maybe you’ve given up hope on your family. Well, I would encourage you to keep praying anyway. I know for me I really want to get married, and stay married my whole life. I don’t know if that will happen. Who knows? I may never get married at all. And I’m not judging you if you’ve done it differently. Sometimes things happen that we can’t control. But I hope you’ll be praying for and helping to strengthen families in our world.