National Day of Prayer: Let's pray that the church lives up to its responsibilities

FILE -- AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman

FILE -- AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman

Editor’s note: The following oped is adapted from “America: Turning a Nation to God” by Dr. Tony Evans. Evans is honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer on May 5 and chief organizer of The Gathering, a national solemn assembly of Christian leaders in the Dallas area Sept. 21.

Every four years, the eyes of America become riveted on the national election returns. But God’s first concern during any political season is not the same as our first concern – it is not about what is happening, or going to happen, in the White House. God’s first concern is what is happening, or not happening, in His house.                          

On Thursday, May 5, the National Day of Prayer, my prayer will be that the Church live up to its responsibilities.

Our nation’s ills are not merely the result of corrupt politicians, greedy businessmen and religious extremists. Our problems can be traced directly to ineffective Christians. The Church has failed to be a positive influence for good in our nation and our world.

When I discuss this topic, one of the first questions I hear is, “What about the separation of church and state?” Although this term does not appear in our Constitution, many people believe that it does.

Thomas Jefferson actually used the phrase "separation of church and state" in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, but he was referring to the government infringing on the rights and freedoms of the religious, and not the other way around.

America was never officially a Christian nation since neither Jesus Christ nor the Bible are mentioned in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. But there’s no denying the influence Christianity has had on our country.

In fact, it was because of a need for freedom of religion, by Protestants fleeing Europe, that many early colonists settled America. It was also because of the promotion of freedom and equality for all, in large part through the Church, that African-Americans achieved civil rights. In both cases, the Church went against the grain of what was commonly accepted.

The Church should be the conscience of the culture, and it has never been needed more than it is today, with our land facing a myriad of problems ranging from family breakdowns to the immigration crisis to the abiding racial divide.  Tragically, as the fabric of our country unravels, we fail to see the spiritual problems that are at the root of our national malaise.

God is trying to get our attention. Many people want “God bless America,” but they don’t want “One Nation under God.” The problem is you can’t have one without the other.

This is an excerpt from “Kingdom Marriage: Connecting God’s Purpose with Your Pleasure” by Dr. Tony Evans, which will be published Sept. 1.