I’m going to assume we’re all following the presidential primaries? What a circus!! Politics in our house might as well be a professional sport. We follow the players, their stats and personal lives. We check their scores on voting day. We like to know who’s besting who, who’s polling highest, who’s got money, where it comes from and most importantly–who’s losing. This particular primary season is a doozy isn’t it? Who ever thought it might be a contest between crazy uncles and Wall Street backed favorites. Not me. I began the season saying “It’s the Republican’s race to lose”, now it’s “And they’re doing a fine job of it”.
We watched the first Republican debates, were encouraged by the number of possible candidates, ones we could even get excited about.
And then came The Donald…
Who could have known a brash, foul mouthed, angry, billionaire would be so popular? As he continued to speak atrocious, inflammatory, unrepeatable and vulgar words we’d think “Surely this guy is only joking…he can’t possibly be serious.”
And now he appears unstoppable. Attacks from his opponents don’t hurt, the opposite seems true, they raise his poll numbers. He commits verbal murder and no one blinks. This naughty, unapologetic man has tapped into an anger that resides deeply in the collective public, it’s unexplainable–the media is having an orgy.
Last Sunday we heard stories from a missionary wife who lives in Damascus, Syria. Talk about your front line spiritual warfare. The’ve seen miraculous interventions. Muslims coming to Christian faith in record numbers while others are suffering torture and even death for Jesus. Her life is a constant journey of navigating danger and hatred while trusting the power of God to supernaturally protect her from the onslaught of violence in her land. There are no human rights, no constitution, no protections provided by her government…her life is dependent solely on the power of God to deal with the forces of his enemies who want nothing less than to obliterate them. It’s sobering.
I’ve also been thinking about the apostle Paul, a Roman citizen. While he claimed his citizenship, and all the rights it afforded him under one of the most corrupt governments in history, he always knew where his eternal country would be (he got a sneak peak). He endured a Roman prison while disciples carried his letters back and forth fully aware his life would eventually be ended by a Roman sword. Can you imagine what his body must have been like? Multiple floggings, shipwrecks, prison malnourishment, the suffering from his humility thorn…I imagine at the time of his execution he was unrecognizable. But God knew him and more importantly, he knew God.
At a fundraiser on Saturday Bruce chatted with a young professor from Wheaton College about the politics of American Christianity. It was a lively discussion! They journeyed back in time to Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority, his ability to marry politics and religion. It was a supposed breakthrough for American Christians who felt disenfranchised by decades of liberal policies. It elected Ronald Regan who brought many conservative reforms giving the voting block a collective sigh of relief. They were rewarded with a healthier economy, strong military, the end of the Cold War, a drop in interest rates. Even my George McGovern, hippie uncle registered as a Republican.
Unfortunately, I think those years lulled American Christianity to sleep. Because Christian faith was indelibly linked with political conservatism we became lax. We took for granted that a conservative candidate would always represent our interests and protect our freedoms. When the information age descended with ferocity, we spun in circles trying to keep up. Social engineering through media infiltrated our lives in a previously unknown manner. Before we knew it, the populace was entirely self focused. Me, mine and ours are today’s guiding political principles. Even our parents’ generation, (the Greatest Generation) is on board. Their Social Security checks are THEIRS no matter how much money they have, they earned it, they paid it and it’s THEIRS. The government has no right to spend, cut or withhold it–under ANY circumstances, up to and including national bankruptcy.
One of the current themes of my personal Social Media feed is the demise of the greatness of America if a tyrant or an established liberal takes office (you’d think they are one in the same). They bemoan the potential loss of liberty, fear religious persecution will descend and cry that their children will never know the American Dream–as if its a heavenly right instead of a constitutional one. Some are truly grieved at the condition of the country, feeling a need for true repentance and an alignment with Scripture to escape the pending judgement of God. I remember Chuck Colson saying that a fiscal Conservative who is also a social Liberal is a recipe for tanks in the streets and that was over 30yrs ago–it hasn’t happened, in spite of the many FC/SL’s we’ve had in office through the years.
As believers we’ve always known that a day will come when God judges the earth. It should be no surprise to us that evil (as defined by Scripture) in all its vast expressions will rise, infiltrate and become normal for society. That it should come to the American Presidency from the very political party that continues to try and aspire to Biblical values is an irony utterly unspeakable… Though it’s been in the works for decades, the time is ripening even now for a fuller expression of anti-Christian sentiment, even here in our great nation.
Does it spell the demise of America? Should we look for a better country? (for a brief moment I considered moving to Texas–they can still secede–and I really, really don’t like Texas…big hair, bugs, heat, Dallas, boots, belt buckles). Does it mean we won’t respect, pray for and obey our government? Do we, as believers, have the kind of faith that will sustain us even as we lose personal freedoms? Can we believe that our children will still be faithful if we’re compelled to allow the secular government to raise them? (Samuel’s mother) Will we be strong enough to know that our needs will be met if our livelihood is jeopardized? (Elijah and the ravens) What if it becomes risky to attend church? And will we give our hard earned, heavily taxed income without an exemption?
This encouraged me,
“I remain confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” Psalm 27:13
My Syrian missionary sees God’s goodness every time another Muslim comes to faith in Jesus or a bullet is stopped, a bomb avoided or a martyr’s suffering relieved.
Paul saw God’s goodness when he received letters telling how his fledgling churches were enduring, growing, maturing and sharing the good news of Jesus.
I think we have to redefine what goodness actually means. Bruce has a phrase he uses all the time, “Does it have eternal value?” It also applies here. Yes it’s convenient and freeing to have a government that doesn’t restrict our religious choices and supports our social ideas of right and wrong. But is that truly what goodness is? Maybe it’s simply the thing that has eternal value. The thing that causes us to feel joy deep in our person rather than providing us with a form of happiness that shifts with mood or circumstance.
SO….I’m done trying to predict what will happen this primary season, or for that matter with the general election. Okay, I’ll rephrase, I’ll TRY to be done predicting (sometimes it’s just fun). I’ll vote, but God will decide who governs. What’s become more significant is the shift in my thinking from being an American Christian to being a Christian American. It’s a given that I must “Obey God rather than man”, whatever happens in my earthly country. It’s my mentality that’s shifted. Heavenly citizenship isn’t a democracy, it’s a Kingdom. There is no voting. There are servants instead of constituents; appointed rulers instead of elected officials; a King instead of a President. Obedience, worship and duty are the privileges of those citizens and they offer it with joy. It’s kinda out of sync with American Christianity.
I’m gonna have to get crackin’, obedience isn’t always easy for this American and my inalienable rights keep getting in the way of that dang’d servanthood thing!