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Monday, November 5, 2012

The Christian Response to the Election

Tomorrow is the big day;  we get to go vote.  I’d encourage you to vote, using biblical wisdom and Christian principles to decide who to vote for.  But I'm not here to tell you why you should or shouldn't vote for a certain candidate.

Much more important than your check mark on a ballot, I encourage you to pray, and also to watch the attitude of your heart as the results roll in.

Sometimes we get too worked up about politics.  We think if we just get the right guy, or the right party, in power, then we’ll be headed in the right direction.  And I think that is partly true, but it is also partly true that even if we get the guy we vote for, we’ll still be headed, in some ways, in the wrong direction, albeit at a slower pace.

I don’t know if there is hope for us as a nation, no matter who is elected.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:7b, that “the borrower becomes the lender’s slave”.  With a national debt of over $15 trillion, which is $51,000 for every person in our country, we stand in danger, not just of a great recession, but of real economic turmoil and major financial trouble.

Much more importantly, we live in a blood-stained land where the weak and helpless are discarded.  In 1973, in Roe v. Wade, a majority of Supreme Court justices decided that murdering unborn babies was a constitutional right.  That is the epitome of what Habakkuk 1:4 calls the perversion of justice.  And since then, we’ve slaughtered the innocents at the rate of over a million per year.  We’ve become much worse than the ancient Israelites, where, as Psalm 106:38 tells us, “the land was polluted with the blood” of their children whom they sacrificed to their idols.  It says (in verse 37) they “sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons”.  In that instance, the following verses tell us that the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and He gave them into the hand of the nations.
Do we think we're exempt?  (We're not!)  The Lord would be just and right to also judge our land severely.  It may be coming, I don’t know.  It may come no matter which guy wins the election.

But the Lord is also patient, merciful, and gracious, and perhaps He will spare us the wrath that we deserve.

But know this, dear saints, no matter who wins the election, God is still sovereign.  He rules the atoms of the universe, and holds it all together.  He is sovereign in salvation of men.  And He is sovereign in the affairs of nations as well.

In Acts 13:21, we read a bit about the history of Israel.  It says that

“Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.  After He [God] had removed him, He raised up David to be their king…

We learn from this that God is the one who puts people in office, and He is the one who removes them from office, according to His own good pleasure and perfect plan.

The classic passage on this subject is in the book of Daniel.  King Nebuchadnezzar had grown self-focused and very arrogant, and God would teach him a lesson by removing him from office for a while.  It says in Daniel 4:25b, “seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.”

We get to vote, yes, but it is still God that chooses the next president.  Now how all that works together is a bit of a mystery, it is beyond us, but we can still say with the Psalmist in Psalm 99:1,

The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble;

And we also need to understand how all this is related to the gospel.

We want freedom, we hope for economic prosperity, I don’t mean to be rich, but to have our needs met.  We want true justice for all people, and for life to be respected, and for righteousness to be upheld.

But what if those things continue to disappear?

We need to remind ourselves, and we need to do it often, that life is more than economic prosperity and good laws and good politicians.  If we’re blessed with those things, great!  I'm in favor of those things.  But if God takes them away, our job is still the same.

Oftentimes, it is in those tough times that the gospel is most effective.  Sometimes, people need to lose what they thought was their security, in order to see that it really wasn’t security at all, just the illusion of it.  They need to see hardship to see the brevity of life and the vastness of eternity.  They need to see a glimpse of death before they’ll contemplate their own mortality.  And persecution, dear brethren, isn't bad for the church -- it is good for it.  "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church", as Tertullian said man years ago.

So if our nation continues in the wrong direction, either at a face or a slow pace – if we face further and even worse economic mayhem – if we experience severer judgment by God – the answer isn’t to worry or fret, the answer isn’t anxiety, and frankly, the real answer isn’t merely political.  The answer is the gospel.  The answer is to humble ourselves, and trust in Jesus alone, no matter our outward circumstances.  The answer is, always is, repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ.  Our response to national trial is to proclaim the glorious gospel of grace, to tell others about the only way they can find salvation, and to pray that God, in His wrath, will remember mercy (Hab. 3:2).

Rick Holland, a pastor up in Kansas City, put it rightly a few days ago, when he wrote, "[I’m] Not sure who will be president of the United States next week, but I know Who will be King of the universe."

This world is not our home.  We’re strangers here, exiles, pilgrims, as Hebrews 11:13 tells us.  We’re just passing through.  We should appreciate our blessings here, but not expect them, and certainly not demand them.  Life for many Christians, at other times and in other places, has been a lot harder than what we experience.  They’ve lived under much worse leaders, with much worse laws, and with much less stuff.  So if things around us get worse, don’t be surprised, don’t worry about it, and look forward to eternity that much more.

So go vote on Tuesday!  But more importantly, pray, trust, and be confident, not in politics, but in a sovereign and loving God who is working out His perfect plan, whether we understand it or not.

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