COMMENTARY: Clinton crisis should turn nation to repentance

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c. 1998 Religion News Service

(Bill Bright is the founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ, an evangelical ministry based in Orlando, Fla., and the co-author of the new book”Red Sky in the Morning.”He was the winner of the 1996 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.)

UNDATED _ If I were sitting across the table from Bill Clinton right now I would tell him this:”God loves you, I love you, and God has a wonderful purpose for your life. He has put you in the most powerful position in the world for a reason. Truly repent and seek God’s face in a spirit of humility. Cast your cares on Christ _ ask Him to make you and Hillary models and mentors for the rest of the nation and the whole world.” I would remind President Clinton what he already knows: the highest judge is God. Serving him first serves others best _ and transcends politics. Clinton, the White House, our legislators, and the country, can and must transcend politics. We must act in spirit and in truth _ combining justice and mercy.

How that works out will probably be clear to us only one step at a time. And every step needs God’s direction. For that, I will be on my knees the entire way and encourage others to do the same.

My prayer is that a president’s sin will turn a nation to repentance.

I used to point my finger at Hollywood, the media and the Supreme Court for our country’s crises.

But God showed me that I _ and all followers of Christ _ are guilty, because we have not fully obeyed God’s laws. Not to minimize Clinton’s sins, but the real sin, in my opinion, is ours. Our society is darkened because believers have failed to be salt and light. Believers are the immune system of the country _ as long as that system is strong, problems cannot overcome us.

Christians, however, have left their post; our country is unprotected, susceptible to invasions from within and without. Now we desperately need system supplements: pulpits ablaze with righteousness and power.

For a book that John Damoose and I wrote recently, I researched the beliefs and philosophies that built our society. For 170 years the Bible, the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule were the foundation of American society. The Bible was the major textbook of our entire educational system _ kindergarten through university.

Then some 50 years ago, God was expelled from the classroom. With no God-given standards of right and wrong, the majority of people lost direction. They began to do what was right in their own eyes. What happened in the Oval Office is symptomatic of what is happening in every facet of society: America is without direction and dangerously close to losing its soul.

The only hope for the president and the entire nation is true confession and repentance of our sins. God’s promise is sure. He honors a repentant spirit _ a humble and contrite heart he will not reject.

There is hope for America; there is hope for the president. But the healing process begins when we humbly seek after God and his truth.

George Washington began and ended each day on his knees reading the Bible and praying. He and most of the founders were biblical believers who had a reverential fear of God. All God wants is a repentant heart.

But that applies to us all. The Bible says God honors and blesses nations on the basis of the attitudes and obedience of his children. On our knees and in prayer, we must ask ourselves: What have I done to help create an atmosphere that would allow anyone to do what’s right in his own eyes and not worry about it? The point is: We have not been salt and light; we’re the ones who have disobeyed God.

Fortunately, God has given us the discipline of fasting and prayer to help us regain our bearings. The spiritual awakening so urgently needed today will only come when millions of Christians across America and around the world humble themselves and seek God’s face through fasting and prayer.

And when the rest of the world sees a revival among Christians _ sees our love for one another _ it will change the course of history.

A believer’s greatest privilege is to pray for others. We should be on our knees for the president and the first family, humbly asking God to lead them toward true repentance and redemption, and to show us how we have contributed to a society that has become spiritually and morally bankrupt.

Instead, too many Christians are spending time criticizing Clinton instead of praying for him. Prayer is our highest calling. Part of God’s purpose for this national episode is to remind Christians that God both allows and requires us to pray for our leaders.

I am optimistic. I personally believe this public debacle is God’s way of preparing America for a great revival. Tens of thousands of prayer groups all over America are praying for our country and our leaders.

What would I say to Bill Clinton? That consequences are inescapable, but God can redeem anything. That God loves him very much. That change comes with true humility and contrition _ when we truly seek God’s forgiveness and blessing _ for all Americans.

I would tell him, and every Christian in America, that the answer is not programs or legislation but humility. From our hearts, we must turn from our wrongs and seek God. Then God will answer, and what an answer. He will move toward us like a father running down the road, giddy, forgetting everything in his joy to welcome home a beloved son.


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