On Friday, January 20, 1961, the young, charismatic Democrat senator from Massachusetts named John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the Thirty-Fifth President of this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. Among America’s most eloquent speakers, Kennedy’s inaugural address was full of stirring ideas clothed in splendid words. Many think the most memorable thing he said came near the end: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can for do you—ask what you can do for your country.”
With all due respect to President Kennedy, it’s time for every follower of Christ to ask not “What can I do for my country?” but, “What is the best thing I can do for my country?” That best thing might surprise you.
Be a Red-Hot Christian
Evangelist D. L. Moody was asked by a man, “Mr. Moody, do you think I’m a Christian?” Never one to allow political correctness to stifle him, Moody answered, “Not a red-hot one!”
Moody’s brusque answer tells you the best thing you can do for America in this time when our country is a house divided more than it’s been since the Civil War. What’s the best thing you can do for your country? Be a red-hot Christian.
The 5 Priorities of a Red-Hot Christian
Being a red-hot Christian involves living with five (5) priorities.
Priority One for being a red-hot Christian is remember your core identity.
The German Philosopher Schopenhauer is out walking late one night. A suspicious policeman stops him and asks, “Who are you?” Schopenhauer says, “ I wish to God I knew.”
Who are you, my friend? Your core identity isn’t found in the fact you’re an American. Your core identity isn’t found in your political persuasion, whether Republican or Democrat. Your core identity isn’t found in your denominational affiliation of Methodist or Baptist or Presbyterian or Episcopalian or Pentecostal. Your core identity is found in the grace truth that like the Apostle Paul you are a “man in Christ” or a “woman in Christ.” You’re someone for whom Jesus died. You belong to him. Remember that. Think of yourself this way. Speak of yourself this way. Who are you? Answer, gratefully, boldly, confidently: “I am a Christian!” Everything else—everything else!—is secondary to that. Being a red-hot Christian lives, moves, and has its being in remembering this truth that your core identity is the fact the Son of God loves you and gave himself for you.
Priority Two for being a red-hot Christian is focus on your primary calling as a Christian.
Arthur says of his knights, “I make them place their hands in mine and swear allegiance to the king.” Jesus does the same with you by saying, “Follow me!” Your primary calling isn’t making America great again. Your primary calling isn’t keeping your state a “Red” state or turning it into a “Blue” state. Your primary calling isn’t doing everything you can to keep Donald Trump in office or everything you can to get him out of office. Your primary calling is to live for Jesus Christ. Your primary calling is to trust him. Your primary calling is to obey him. Your primary calling is to serve him. Your primary calling is to be his man/woman in your home, in your place of business, with your friends, in the voting booth, or any other place you find yourself. “For me to live is Christ.” That’s the thought that should consume you and control you.
Being a red-hot Christian involves focusing on your primary calling as a Christian by living for Jesus.
Priority three for being a red-hot Christian is exercise the power that is yours at the throne of grace.
We talk of having friends in high places. Christian, by the blood of Jesus you have access with boldness to the throne of grace. That means as a Christian you have the best of friends in the highest of places. Almighty God listens when you pray. O, the significance of prayer! The NIV’s translation of the end of James 5:16 is spot on: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” No wonder Paul says, “I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
The powerful people in this world aren’t the George Soroses and the politicians and the media. The powerful people in this world are those who have the ear of God. And that’s you, my friend. Exercise the power that’s yours at the throne of grace! Pray that God will raise up godly leaders. Pray for the conversion of those who now lead us. Pray that God will make wise as Solomon those in authority over us in Federal, State, and local government.
Being a red-hot Christian involves exercising your power at the throne of grace.
Priority four for being a red-hot Christian is follow the golden rule with everyone.
Lady Astor tells Winston Churchill, “Winston, if I were your wife I’d poison your soup.” Winston says, “Lady Astor, if I were your husband I’d drink it!” Now, that’s the kind of incivility that reigns in America today, isn’t it? But Scripture says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:13). How do you live at peace with everyone? Well, Jesus’ direction for traveling the highway of civility is found in the golden rule. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Christian, here is your relational GPS. With the guy who recklessly runs a red light and almost hits you; with the waitress who gets your order wrong at IHOP; with the neighbor who always votes for the wrong candidate . . . With one and all, every day, all day long, treat others the way you want them to treat you.
Being a red-hot Christian involves following the golden rule with everyone.
Priority five for being a red-hot Christian is live with optimism because of your Father’s rule over everything.
It’s a Sunday in London, England during the heart of WWII. The renowned Welsh preacher David M. Lloyd-Jones is praying his pastoral prayer during the 11 AM service. Suddenly the drone of a German bomb is heard. It hits, shaking the building like a rock star shaking a tambourine. Debris falls from the ceiling over the three-tiered Westminster Chapel. Lloyd-Jones calmly pauses in his prayer, looks up, and tells people in the top tier to come down to the first floor where it’s cleaner and safer. He then bows his head and resumes his prayer. A WWI veteran in the congregation that day says he never saw anything braver in the trenches of France. But LJ’s biographer says LJ was simply acting like someone who believes his heavenly Father is in absolute control of his life.
Christian, “of him and through him and unto him are all things.” Nothing happens to you outside of his control. And who is this one who controls your life? The One who gave his Son for you on the cross. And this gives you reason to live with optimism. Not optimism that America will be the country we want it to be. But optimism about grace. That’s optimism that through Jesus God is always up to the good of making us like Jesus. It’s optimism that all things work together for our good. And it’s optimism that no matter what happens our God will be a present help in trouble. Away with fear. Away with dismay and despair and discouragement and depression over elections and the possible troubles that may come our way as believers. Listen to Maltie Babcock’s musical reminder: “This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget / That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad.” You are in his hands. His grace will take care of you.
That frees you to do the best thing you can do for your country.
What’s that? The best thing you can do for your country is to be a red-hot Christian.