“God & Country” or “God & Church”?

… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

(2Chronicles 7:14)

So often I hear this verse used in reference to the U.S.A., quoted by well-meaning Christians who sense our society’s moral decline. Perhaps it could apply to us as a country (I mean, God can do whatever He wants with the nations of the world). Frankly, I hope it can apply to us because I like the thought of living in a country that God would bless. Originally, though, the context of this story in Scripture was for the land of Israel only. Solomon had just finished overseeing the building and dedication of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. The LORD then appeared to Solomon at night and said,

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people—if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves …”

This was God’s prescription for Israel for when things got bad. Christians, however, should primarily think of that promise as metaphor. Christians have never been given a piece of real estate by God in the same manner the Jews were given the land of Israel. We are God’s people, sure enough, but what is “our land?” It doesn’t appear that Jesus claimed any specific plot of ground for Himself or for His followers. Could our inheritance be the Church — Jesus’ Kingdom on the Earth? If Christians humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways, then might God heal the drought of love in the church? Might God destroy the “locusts” that are robbing us of fruitful labor in our ministries? Might He heal us of the plague of self-centeredness? It’s tempting to point fingers at the pagan society around us and urge it to repent (for, indeed, it needs to) but this verse actually asks us, the church, to do the repenting.

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