You’ve probably heard about the piece of legislation Congress has been dealing with recently. It consists of an economic stimulus package of $1.9 trillion. I’m not going to use this space primarily to debate the wisdom or effectiveness of such action. You can go to the editorial pages or the blogs of political pundits to read those discussions. What I would like to focus on here is related to the official name of that legislation. It’s called The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. That’s a rather ambitious title for what some people think this law will accomplish if enacted. It might provide some temporary relief that will be helpful to some people, but it certainly won’t rescue America as a whole from the main issues our nation is facing today. No amount of money and no political action will be sufficient to address our deepest needs. I believe those are spiritual, which is why I’m addressing them here.
First of all, God has a much more effective rescue plan, not only for Americans but for all people. His plan isn’t some new proposal for 2021, but it’s the same one that has been around since the beginning of time. Each one of us needs to be delivered from our sin, as well as from the condemnation, guilt, and other consequences that follow our having chosen our way over God’s will. This spiritual problem is the root of most of the other issues we’re facing. God sent His Son into this world to take our sin and its fallout onto Himself so that we who put our trust in Him as our Savior could have eternal life. God’s plan hasn’t changed. Faith in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross are still the only way for us to experience the needed deliverance.
Therefore the main “act” that would truly rescue individuals and our nation is the same one that both John the Baptist advocated (Matthew 3:2) and Jesus Himself proclaimed (Matthew 4:17) as the remedy in their day for those who were facing the wrath of a holy God. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” If we’re on a destructive pathway, then we need to turn around. We need to change course. That’s what repentance entails. It’s a change of mind that results in a change of direction. We need to forsake our own way and start going God’s way.
For our nation we would do well to follow the plan of rescue that worked so well for the people of Nineveh in the time of Jonah. Although warned of coming judgment, they were spared. Why? The Bible says that they believed God, proclaimed a fast, and the people were encouraged to “cry mightily to God” and to turn from their evil ways (Jonah 3:5-8). Maybe similar actions on our part would bring similar results.
It’s not just an ungodly society that needs to repent today but also those who profess to be Christians. Much of the church needs to repent of having turned away from God and the teachings of His Word. We need to repent of depending more on political leaders and government actions to save us rather than looking to God as our source of help. We need to repent of our lack of prayer, our complacency, and of letting our fears keep us from standing up for what’s right. We need to repent of our inaction and of not being a better channel of the Lord’s light and love in this dark world.
God has a way to rescue us, but we have to submit to Him and follow His plan. So let’s repent, earnestly seek God, and surrender to His will.