Come Out of Her

Those first settling New England called themselves Pilgrims. Their name best described their plight. They preferred the kingdom of God to the comforts of their native land. Like Abraham who "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb 11: 10), they left their homes to search the purified church of Christ.

England was in the midst of revival and reformation. The country had already broken all ties with the Roman Church. Its citizens were anxious to complete the purpose of the Reformation and restore the church to its pristine purity. Their Puritan efforts challenged the leaders of the Anglican Church, who were comfortable with the reforms already made and the positions they enjoyed. Additional improvements seemed slow at best. While most Puritans waited for church leaders to complete the Reformation, perhaps fearing to arouse their anger and suffer their condemnation, some gave their all. They obeyed the admonition of Jesus, which said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt 6:33).

Those Puritans who endorsed reforming the church faster than its leaders wanted, finally advocated leaving the Anglican Church. They concluded that its preference for ecclesiastical structure and its alliance with political powers prohibited it from restoring the original church of Christ. The rest of the Puritans called them "Separatists."

The Separatists were denounced. They had already made church leaders uncomfortable, but their decision to leave the Anglican Church and ignore its authorities angered the government. England was a monarchy whose lung was both head of state and head of the church. Resisting church authorities included resisting the king. Ecclesiastical defiance was also national defiance. The Separatists were guilty of treason. Officials hounded them. Investigators questioned them. Spies followed them. They were detained, their meetings broken up, and their families threatened. Their difficulties showed them that to seek the kingdom of God they had to leave everything they had, including their homes, and be like Abraham, "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb 11: 13). The Separatists become Pilgrims.

Fleeing England was a crime. It was a much more treasonous action than leaving the church. To leave the king's rule was to abandon the king. To flee to another kingdom was to prefer another king. Despite the danger, the Separatists decided to flee. Holland was famous for religious freedom. It seemed the best goal for a pilgrim. The Pilgrims chartered a ship to sail them across the English Channel. The captain betrayed their confidence by leaving the men on shore. He took only the women and children to Holland. Fortunately, the men avoided any consequences of their intended flight and joined their families a short time later.

Holland proved as inhospitable a place to seek the kingdom of God as England had been. The Pilgrims may have been free there to worship as they pleased, but they were riot free from worldly influences. They were only a small commune in a large city and had no power to make either holy. Their children best illustrated their inability. Tender and inexperienced, their youngsters were more susceptible to the temptations growing around them. Slowly, the Pilgrims began to realize that they were searching for the kingdom of God in the wrong place.

The only place to winch the Pilgrims could flee that was free from worldly intrigue, influences, and alliances was America. No church or state reigned in its wilderness. No clerics or bureaucrats scrutinized its activities. Worldliness with its attendant delicacies and frivolities was far away. It offered only the harsh struggles of survival. Just as the wilderness had been a refuge to Abraham, Moses, and Elijah, it was a refuge to the Pilgrims. The price of their worldly possessions paled in comparison to the opportunity to separate themselves from the worldliness that surrounded them. John Robinson summoned them when he wrote, "Now as the people of God in old time were called out of Babylon civil, the place of their bodily bondage, and were to come to Jerusalem, and there build the Lord's temple, or tabernacle ... so are the people of God now to go out of Babylon spiritual. "The Bible told them the same dung. Apostle Paul had begged, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord" (2 Cor 6:17). John had warned, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sin" (Rev 18:4). With scriptural authority, Robinson was calling the Pilgrims to come out of Babylon and build up the kingdom of God in the New World.

The Pilgrims left all when they came to America. They abandoned their homes, their country, their jobs, their friends, their positions, and their titles. What they found was greater than what they left. Because they sought the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness of God first, God, as the commandment promises, gave them His riches. The Pilgrims found homes, jobs, friends, and positions. They founded a country conceived in obedience, anchored to liberty, and dedicated to righteousness. Their faith paved the way for the great nation America has become.

America is no longer a wilderness. Its citizens no longer struggle with frontier hardships. They no longer forsake their all to fashion the land into the kingdom of God. Few are anxious to build up the holy city within their borders. The success of past generations that augmented work with faith has made Americans prosperous, so prosperous that we seek the things in this world instead of the things in the world to come. Our desire to acquire goods and satisfy passions has narrowed our vision to only the kingdoms on earth and the provisions they supply. Too many people use the blessings of America for personal gratification. America has lost sight of its opportunity to build up its nation into a holy kingdom.

God brought the Pilgrims to America to build up His kingdom. When Americans tried to achieve that goal, He prospered and preserved them. As Americans have deviated from that goal, He has punished them. Today, the United States suffers under the strain of immorality, perversion, and greed. Its streets are filled with crime; its courts are backlogged with cages. Productivity is down and workmanship is lacking. Divorce abounds, families disintegrate, discipline declines, scholarship dwindles, abortions continue, homosexuals march, infrastructures erode and inflation grows. The call that motivated the Pilgrim to leave their all for their promised land must motivate Americans to leave the world for the kingdom of God. John's warning continues to sound: "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev 18:4).

If America does not repent and return to God, she must endure the full weight of His chastisement. Jesus promised, "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt 13:41-43). The trials that face America and frustrate Americans are divine invitations to repent. America will yet be the holy kingdom for which the Pilgrims came. Those unwilling to separate from worldliness will be swept away when God cleanses His kingdom. The admonition from the Bible, which John Robinson quoted to the Pilgrims, must be obeyed. Let all the faithful come out of Babylon. Let them leave the things of the world, both the desires of the flesh and the acquisitions of their hands, and seek first the kingdom of God. Those that do, like the Pilgrims, will find more than they left. They will receive a pilgrim's promise, even the holy city.