The President of the United States is scheduled to deliver the annual State of the Union address tonight on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. Every year it gets me thinking about the state of my union with Christ, the state of the church, and yes, the state of the union of the nation I call home.
State of my Union with Christ
Charles Spurgeon once said, “There is no joy in this world like union with Christ. The more we can feel it, the happier we are.”
Does this statement ring true for you? The Bible speaks over and over about the riches of our union with Christ. Here are a few key passages to help us understand and live out this glorious truth:
- John 15 describes our life as abiding in God’s love and bearing fruit out of that dependent relationship with Him, like branches on the vine.
- In John 17:20-23, Jesus prays for us, that we would believe in Him and be united with Him.
- Romans 6:3-7 describes the beauty of being united with Christ in both his death and resurrection.
- Romans 8:9-11 teaches the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, dwells in us.
- II Corinthians 5:17 declares everyone in Christ is a new creation.
- In Galatians 2:20, we see we are dead and it is Christ who lives in us.
- Ephesians 1:3-6 tells how God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
- Philippians 3:8-10 shows the surpassing worth of Christ over and beyond any loss or suffering..
- Colossians 3:1-4 reminds us that our life is hidden (safe) in Christ, and so our hearts and minds are set on things above, with Him.
Here is what is amazing— if you are in Christ, then these verses describe you! While we live on earth we will experience them imperfectly, a result of the brokenness of sin in the world and our own hearts. But the Christian walk is growing deeper in the understanding, joy and experience of our union with Christ, until one day we will know it fully when we see Him face to face.
State of the Union of the U.S.A.
In the formal State of the Union address, the President ordinarily spends time surveying the current state of things and then working through a laundry list of ways his administration plans to improve the state of the union.
Dr. Adam Carrington from Hillsdale College recently joined me on air to talk about how it might be approached differently and how we, as Christians, might evaluate and improve the state of the union in which we all live. Adam talked about judging the state of the union against a standard and the standard he recommended was the Declaration of Independence. How would we judge things against the descriptions of ourselves and our vision for a shared future as “We the People?”
Adam pointed out two reference points for consideration when determining the State of the Union: safety and happiness.
- Are we safe? Yes and no. In which direction are our sense of safety and security trending? Should we invest in accelerating or reversing the current trend? How?
- Are we happy or does the government provide an environment in which we can freely pursue happiness? Yes and no. In which direction is our sense of hope trending?
Each of us might point to different evidence to support the argument that the state of our union is relatively good or relatively bad, improving or deteriorating in terms of the two standards of safety and happiness.
Despite all those differences, in comparison to life when the Declaration of Independence was drafted, life in America is very very good. But by comparison to whatever period of time we perceive to have been “the good ole days” (which were only relatively good for a relative few and for a relatively short time), Americans are largely pessimistic about the future. People don’t “feel” confident that the nation is on the right track nor confident about their safety nor flourishing in the future.
So, how does the United States today meet the standard as set out in the Declaration of Independence? This is where the laundry list comes in, and whatever your political persuasion, you have a list.
- Inflation has not only eroded our ability to pay for things today and it has eroded the savings we put aside in the past to insure a “happy” future
- International relations are hot in every direction: the southern border, Central and South America, Ukraine, Russia, NATO, China, the Middle East, Iran, etc.
- We do not feel safe in cities, traveling alone, letting our kids play unsupervised, or even sending our children off to college. Even in our own homes we don’t exactly know who is targeting our kids online through their connected devices as we sit in the next room. We don’t feel like we can protect them and we don’t sense the government can protect them either.
- Then there’s the epidemic of loneliness and the rise of deaths of despair. Whatever fragile safety net existed in our families and communities prior to Covid now has gaping, persistent holes including breakdown in mental health, addiction or services for families with a child who has special needs.
Add to this list the deep partisan divisions among We the People. Shall we add a broken system of public health, public education, elder care, immigration, and the trans mania of our present cultural moment?
The State of Union seems so grim. And yet…millions want to come here. Why? Because compared with many other places in the world, America is a place of safety where happiness can be pursued.
Where is the Church (big C) in all of this? She has her own laundry list of issues for reckoning. American churches, or at least too many of them, were not ready to respond to these challenges in ways that reflected and represented Christ. What’s more, many found themselves in crisis of one variety or another. Sexual brokenness and trauma has been exposed. We do not know how to process the truth that among those who were supposed to be keeping us safe and caring for us in our most desperate days, predators hid in plain sight.
The State of the Union ahead
We need a revival. To be clear, the revival we need isn’t a spirit of America but of the Spirit of Christ. Not the spirit of the age, of the revolutionary nor civil wars, but the spirit reflected in the right and righteous declaration that:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Do we understand that the basis of our union as a nation is derived from the understanding that each and every individual human being lives in relationship to the Creator God? The universe is personal, but the person around whom it revolves is neither you nor me nor the U.S President.
A sober assessment of the State of the Union of the United States should compel each of us to make a sober assessment of the state of our own union with Jesus Christ. Here are some questions to consider your state of Union: Do I see and am I leaning into the redemptive arc of history? Do I see and am I living into the purposes and ways of God with humility? Am I offering my life as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, loving others as God has loved me in Christ? Is the greatness with which I’m concerned the glory of God and am I compelled to pour out my life as a living extension of His grace in the world without partiality?
Draft your own state of the union address
- About the state of your own union with Christ.
- About the state of the union of the local church of which you are a part.
- About the state of the union of the nation in which you live.
- About the state of the union of the body of believers in the world.
- About the state of the union of the Kingdom of God.
See how your perspective on the laundry list in the annual State of the Union address of the President of the United States is affected by this exercise. Give it a go! How would you characterize the state of the Union?