What’s the one thing you really need to help make America great again? On a recent Christian talk show the host was rightly commending Dawn Loggins, an eighteen-year-old who was once homeless but is now headed to Harvard. Her intriguing storyrevolves around her seemingly hopeless circumstances. Her family was certainly poor and she grew up in filthy conditions. She would go for months at a time without showering or changing as her mother never taught her to take care of herself. The young girl ultimately became an object of ridicule and went home crying each day. But then she made a decision: “When I was younger, I looked around at my family and I saw the neglect, the drug abuse, the bad choices and I saw my family living from paycheck to paycheck, and I just made a decision that I was not going to end up like my parents.” Good for her. She studied hard, worked as a janitor, got a little help from friends along the way, and ended up at Harvard.
The point the talk show host made (and the point of the story) was that she was willing to help herself. She achieved her dreams on her own – without government assistance. And I might add, we Christians understand the government is not our Savior or provider. A system of government-forced-welfare actually oppresses the poor (and steals from the non-poor). It has an appearance of compassion but is actually destructive. We encourage personal responsibility, hard work, and a generous spirit toward those in need (Eph. 4:28). But, aren’t we missing something here? To quote the host, “Here’s a young girl who pulled herself up. That’s the kind of America we need again.” Really?
Here’s the real point. The talk show is billed as presenting a Christian worldview. When we Christian leaders hold ourselves out as such, we really need to teach others just that: a Christian worldview. The fact is that we don’t pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Yes, we have personal responsibility, and no, we don’t need government assistance. But our message is not one of self-reliance. Our sufficiency is in Christ. Our dependence is upon Him and apart from Him we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). The subtitle of the story reads: “It depends on you and nobody else.” Not true; our dependence is upon Christ, not ourselves.
Beyond that, it’s not about the America we want. It’s about a greater kingdom: God’s kingdom. If we’re trying to build America, then perhaps we will want to leave God out of the equation. But if we’re trying to advance His kingdom, then we’re going to have to think about His kingdom and include Him in the equation. As those who teach others, we’re going to have to point people away from themselves to the only One who can truly provide help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). Only a widespread dependence on God can make a nation great. And that’s where you come in: be dependent on God and teach others to be the same.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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