reprinted and updated: POST ELECTION ENCOURAGEMENT AND PERSPECTIVE
"Ever since Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority began making headlines in the 1980s, it has served the purposes of certain conservative activists and their ideological foes to exaggerate the influence they wield among evangelical Christians. In fact, it is both a strength and a weakness of evangelicalism that the 'movement' lacks a center. Yes, a significant majority of evangelicals voted for George W. Bush. Big deal. At the moment, it appears unlikely that a Republican of any stripe will win the White House in 2008, though the Democrats may yet find a way to squander their advantage. So much for theocracy." —John Wilson, editor of the Christianity Today sister publication Books & Culture, writing in The New York Times Book Review.
Shut Up and Pray
In the midst of “evangelical co-belligerent ecumenical political moralism” where these days even a church service can be replaced by turning the Lord’s day gathering of God’s people into a political rally, it is good to turn our hearts toward heaven and ask the Lord to “open our eyes to behold wonderful things out of [His] law” (Psalm 119:18).
In the heat of religious political activism that is being thrust on the church in unprecedented and accelerated rates, we must ask the necessary question that is being overshadowed in this discussion so far: who is in control of our world and its leaders?
In the midst of scandal once again that has tarnished a testimony for the gospel, we need to go to school on political activism--and here's the lesson: when some evangelical leaders choose to make the sin issues of one group over the sin issues of themselves a political Armageddon (i.e. gay marriage) the church should just "shut up and pray." IOW, the church be the church and do what our Lord has commanded us to do in His Word, instead of being prestidigitators, recreating the gospel of sola fide to be one driven by political suasion and family values influence, representing Jesus as a Republican or conservative Democrat with a moral agenda to make men more civil for the mutual betterment of society.
When will the church in America learn that it is not through legislation, but through the means of grace that the battle is fought and won? Prayer rather than petitions; proclamation of the gospel rather than legislation; feeding the poor rather than welfare; preaching the Word of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ rather than motivation through fear-mongering; and most important, being salt and light by loving our neighbor rather than being a lobbyist group for the latest moral cause.
The church marches on her knees! The body of Christ, the church, are to be a people of prayer, not politics. This is not a call to isolationism; on the contrary - we are not to divorce ourselves from this world or those in the world. We are to be faithful, submissive, law abiding citizens of this earth; but we must also remember that we are citizens of heaven on earth that must keep eternity in view on all issues of life. "Be in the world--not of it." Love the Lord your God with every part of your being; and your neighbor as yourself The entirety of the Law and the Prophets are contained in them. Even the great commission is fulfilled when the church is living out the two great commandments. Even if your neighbor is gay, Muslim, of different ethnicity, or economic station. IOW, there is no qualifier on who our neighbor is; but whoever they are... love them, serve them, walk with them, enjoy them, share the gospel with them, live your life including them as a sign of our love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Be salt and light wherever God has "planted" you.
God Owns the Politicians on a Thousand Hills
To find the answer, we turn to the wisdom of Solomon. He says these enlightening words: “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1). The great hope for Christians living in a fallen world under the rule and authority of any kind of government—is that the Lord is Sovereign! It is He who directs the heart of the king. It is He who turns it whichever way He desires. It is not a religious voting PAC; it is not a moral majority; it is not a Christian coalition who determines the turning of the king’s heart—but only God Himself.
It is God who sets up the magistrates of all levels of government to restrain evil, punish evildoers, and to keep order in society. They are His ministers. That is why Paul says beloved, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:1-2). Did you hear that? No authority exists except that they have been instituted by God; and if you resist those authorities, you are resisting what God has appointed! You might be thinking “does this apply to corrupt or godless governments and their officials?” Yes. God is still in control and in authority over them. No government institution or individual magistrate has a moral or judicial free will over the affairs of men save that God has granted it to them. Not even Satan can operate outside the sovereignty of our holy God, let alone a few liberal activist judges. Rest in that truth—God is sovereign.
He Who Sits in the Heavens Laughs...
Isaiah gives us a wonderful glimpse of God’s sovereignty over the nations when saying: “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:15-17).
David, in his great Messianic second Psalm says these powerful words: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision." (Psalm 2:1-4).
There is tremendous comfort in those truths. God raises up in power whom He chooses for His divine purposes and pleasure to accomplish His will throughout the whole earth. Even the wicked He will use to accomplish His divine purposes and if for no other reason to be glorified in His wrath against them (Romans 9:22). And to think otherwise, especially in the thralls of these politically religious co-belligerent hyped up charged times, denies the very sovereignty, rule and authority of God over the affairs of men.
Living Biblically; Not Politically
How then shall we live in a pagan world? The Apostle Peter says, “Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:13-17).
And Paul encourages us to “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Mind you, both Peter and Paul are penning these words under the reign of Rome’s most ruthless, immoral leader… Nero. If there was a culture that was ripe for political, moral, social, family traditional values reform, it was this one. Why didn't the Apostles ever fight that battle by partnering with anyone on their social cause that would agree with them, including nonbelievers, and harness the hearts of those moral few and begin their assault on Nero's nefarious culture code? Because they weren't about the temporal, but all about the eternal--the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord. Paul was never inclined to give up the faith, for the foolishness of men. "...woe is me, if I do not preach the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16c). That is how real impact on the times occur--by the power of the gospel; not by Ecumenical Evangelical Cobelligerence.
Filibusters Schmilibusters... It's All About THE FAITH
We should be praying for our leaders in government; we should honor them by being subject to them for this is God’s will for us. “Honor the emperor; lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way;” keeping in view the preeminent work of the gospel; “for God desires all men to be saved.” When we “take on” an unbelieving world for acting like an unbelieving world, under the guise that “our religious liberties are being taken away” or “the moral decay and slippage in our nation demands that we strong arm politicians to create legislation that moralizes our land” is defeatist against the very purposes and plans of God. Why? Because we end up alienating the very ones we long to reach with the gospel by political divide.
Q - Do you trust the Lord will change the heart of the king and order governments and their magistrates for our good and His glory? And that our function as the church in society is not to fight by political means to preserve, maintain and bring about social cultural morality with anyone including nonbelievers, but to live to bring God glory in all things, in the body of Christ, according to His Word and to share His gospel? Listen, Senators; Congressmen; filibusters; even runaway judiciaries; are in the sovereign control and hand of God. This is not fatalism; but placing your trust each day in the Sovereign Lord for all things. Now I can hear some people say, “because God is sovereign, does that mean we don’t do anything?” Of course not! In a free society the Lord has given us a platform to make our voice known, possibly invoke change and still honor His Word.
Vote... Then Trust the Results to God
Here is how: Vote your conscience in local, state and federal elections; write your congressional leaders and express your opinions and concerns; be involved in neighborhood discussion groups, school boards and town hall meetings. Then, leave the results to God. The body of Christ is not to be rallied in mass to overthrow or strong arm certain politicians to achieve our own moral agenda. That is against the command of Scripture, beloved, and dishonors the Lord. We need to live biblically and trust the outcome of elections, judicial appointees, court rulings, and constitutional processes to our Sovereign Lord.
We need not live in fear on these things. Our nation did not go to hell in a handbasket under Clinton’s presidency and by comparison it is not rising to the heights of godliness under Bush’s. The Lord is accomplishing His purposes in the land; and even wicked godless authorities cannot thwart or alter His divine purposes—not one iota. May I encourage you today to focus on the Lord; focus on His Word; focus on the gospel; love your neighbor; pray for those in governmental power over you; fear God; love the brotherhood; honor the King; and know that all in authority in our political civil system are there, directed by God Himself, and nothing escapes His sovereign rule.
As the Day draws near,
Thursday, November 16, 2006
reprinted and updated: POST ELECTION ENCOURAGEMENT AND PERSPECTIVE