FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Public policy cannot cause the reform needed to revive Judeo-Christian values in America; rather, there must be revival, Richard Land said during a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel Nov. 27.
Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, noted, “Washington is a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator. Washington is a caboose, not a locomotive. When a change happens in the country, it gets reflected in Washington. Washington does not change the country….
“If we want to have the kind of America that God will continue to bless, we are going to have to have a revival.”
The reformation of values in the United States, Land reminded, begins with each Christian and expands outward to their families, churches, communities and, finally, to the nation. Ultimately, the problems in the United States “are problems of the heart,” Land said. “They won’t be solved by us. They are God-sized problems.”
Land based his message on Deuteronomy 6. The Israelites were looking forward to the time when they would enter the Promised Land, taking possession of blessings they had not worked for, such as crops they did not plant and wells they did not dig. The Lord warned the Israelites not to forget the source of their blessings once they took possession of them.
“We are always in danger when we reach a place where we live in houses that we did not build, and we drink from wells that we did not dig, and we profit from vineyards and olive trees that we did not plant,” Land said. “We can forget the Lord our God, or at least we can forget from whence the blessings come. And that’s when the temptation to go after other gods and the temptation to depend upon ourselves is great.”
Many people in the United States regard their blessings as if they were theirs by right, Land said, noting that the average American has received greater blessings than any other group of people in history. Like the Israelites, however, today’s Americans are heirs to blessings for which they did not work.
Land noted that, according to a Gallup poll, the years leading up to 1957 were the happiest years in the nation. The following years, however, saw a decline in this happiness. In 1957, the nation had persevered through the Great Depression and World War II, and U.S. citizens came out of these trials more prosperous than they had ever been. “By 1957,” Land said, “the joyous consumerism with which they had abandoned themselves, they discovered, was a world of diminishing returns.
“What happened? When they began to raise a generation -– my generation -– that lived in houses that we did not build, and ate from vineyards and drank from wells and ate from olive trees that we didn’t dig or plant, too often we forgot from whence comes our blessings,” Land said.
In order to change this situation, believers must teach their children and their churches, continually reminding them of the ultimate source of their blessings.
Land urged the seminary audience to remember the source of their calling and gifts. “Any gifts, any abilities, any talents that you have, they are in trust from Him,” he said. “You are stewards of His goods that He has entrusted to you. You are going to give an account of your stewardship of the talents that have been given to you, and they are yours to serve Him and to serve His church.”
Benjamin Hawkins is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Land’s chapel message may be viewed, listened to or downloaded through Southwestern’s website, www.swbts.edu.