Sunday, November 1, 2020

When all is said and done, it's time to reboot...

First: full disclosure. I wrote this post for my benefit, to remind me of what is true and to get re-centered on what is important, and what is ultimate. I am a political junkie and sometimes get off-centered. I needed the thought that went into this essay in order to restore my own sense of balance. Perhaps it can help you, too. Take a deep breath, and read on...

Tuesday will come and go and the earth will continue to orbit the sun. No matter who is elected (and no matter how long it takes us to find out who won), you’ll still need to go to work, raise your children, love your spouse.  

Here are a few thoughts to remember:

1. No matter who wins, the outcome is ultimately an act of God’s sovereign control over His creation. “For not from the east, nor from the west, Nor from the desert comes exaltation; but God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.” (Psalm 75:6–7). Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 4 is particularly helpful: “This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers and the decision is a command of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Daniel 4:17).

2. Do not get caught up in conspiracy theories. God’s got this. What if the vote is polluted? What if there is cheating, perhaps organized fraud? The sin of man will never overcome the plan of God. Conspirators may thwart the will of man, but they will never thwart the will of God. Psalm 2 should forever destroy the fear of conspiracies: “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:1–4).

3. On the other hand, don’t be glib about the sovereignty of God. The fact that Christians have confidence in God’s sovereign control of all things should never lead the believer to become glib or insensitive to suffering that is a result of wicked men and poor governance. Jeremiah knew God was in control of the Babylonian invasion—but he still wept for his nation, nonetheless. Jesus knew His Father was in control of the judgment to come, but He still wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). Caring deeply about our nation and its fortunes is neither unbiblical or unspiritual—rather, it is an appropriate response to our stewardship in this earthly kingdom.

4. Remember that relationships are far more important than politics. Our politics are certainly formed out of our worldview, but not everyone has thought as deeply about the connections. All of us, including me, live with a degree of cognitive dissonance or intellectual contradiction in our opinions and viewpoints. The Scripture is absolute; our opinions are not absolute. Don’t confuse the two. We are to receive one another: “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1–4)

5. Do not buy the argument that concern for the economy and the policies that impact it is a greedy preoccupation with wealth. Many of those who make this charge are precisely the ones whose economic status largely protects them from the vagaries of a faltering economy. For the majority of Americans, the health of the economy translates to whether they can pay their rent or mortgage, keep the electricity and heat on, and put food on the table. The economy matters hugely, because it has a direct and often immediate impact on human suffering. Christians should care about this—not only in terms of mercy ministries, but in terms of laws and policies that add strength to the economy.

6. Do not buy the argument that the church and its mission are largely unaffected by culture in which it lives. Paul intimates in 1 Timothy 2 that domestic tranquility has a positive effect on the ability to share the gospel: First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–4)

7. Don’t be confused: America is neither ultimate nor permanent. The Constitution is neither ultimate nor permanent. Only God, His Word, and His plan are ultimate. “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). Someday—maybe soon, who knows—all the works of man will come to an end in the fires of God’s judgment. Washington D.C. will be burned to a crisp. London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Seoul, and all the capitals of men will be burned to a crisp. That doesn’t mean the policies and laws of those places are irrelevant, but it does mean that they are at best temporary.

8. Don’t be confused: America has been greatly blessed by God, but Americans are not the people of God; rather, the true church comprises the people of God. While the Constitution embodies many biblical principles, it is not the sixty-seventh book of Scripture—it’s not the Epistle to the Church of Philadelphia, USA.

Here’s what we should remember: we must faithfully exercise our stewardship as citizens of an earthly kingdom, but we must never allow that citizenship to take priority over our heavenly one. On Wednesday morning, God will still be on the throne. His sovereign plan will reign supreme. He will still be good and loving and just and faithful. The blessed hope of the believer will be unchanged by political winds. Fullness of joy is found in the presence of God, not in political victory. Our joy will continue no matter who sits behind the Resolute Desk in the White House.

If your eyes (and my eyes) are fixed on Christ, our joy will be undiminished.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1–4)

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