The midterm elections of 2018 are upon us and with them come a barrage of political, social, and culturally driven agendas. Election years only seem to emphasize the deep rifts that already exist. The ideological differences in our society play out among people in every season, but these differences crescendo during election cycles. Christians have a choice to make. Do we try to usher in a time of national or global peace and morality by human effort or do we resolve to live as salt and light in the midst of a broken world? The answer is clear because the standard has already been set by early believers who understood that they were living in this world but were not of it. 2 Corinthians 10:3
The past years are replete with instances of Christians responding to the culture with the same shrill, vitriolic, angry behaviors found in unbelievers. Just look at what happens every year when Christmas rolls around. There is a war of words and tit for tat approach taken by some Christians who just have to fight for their rights. If a town clerk shelves a manger scene or a school district renames the Christmas program to the Winter program, some people come unglued. Letters to the school board are sent in abundance and shouting matches ensue at meetings all in the name of religious liberty.
Abortion is a practice I wish could be struck from this land for good. I'm all for defunding Planned Parenthood and other so-called 'health services' who engage in the wholesale slaughter of millions of babies. We should vote pro-life and do everything within our power to protect the lives of innocent babies in the womb. Screaming at people in front of the Statehouse or Planned Parenthood won't save lives, but the transforming gospel of Christ will. It's godly sorrow that produces lasting change because it brings people to repentance. Many women walking into abortion clinics are desperate and broken. They need your help, a gospel tract, and certainly, need to know there is hope in Jesus.
This spiritual battle can include counseling and praying with women who are desperate as they drive into these clinics. Giving out contact information for Christian based services offering counseling, prayer, and practical resources like free ultrasounds, diapers, clothing, and providing assistance with housing for young desperate pregnant women will give some of them a reason to choose to save their baby. Friends, I have personally seen the change of heart in some of these dear people as we minister outside of these clinics. We won't know the exact numbers of lives saved and souls won right now but the word of the Lord doesn't return empty.
We see this same scenario played out in the homosexuality issue. Over the last few years, we have witnessed numerous showdowns around many statehouses, including here in Indiana over RIFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act). We see this clash of cultures replayed everywhere from classrooms to pride parades. The media is overloaded with footage of some Christians standing toe to toe with counter-protesters while shouting at the top of their lungs. The motive behind this activity has everything to do with being heard rather than seeing lost souls bound by Satan and sexual sin come to repentance and saving faith.
I'm not advocating putting our heads in the sand and moving to a sparsely populated Christian commune on a mountaintop until the Lord returns. Anyone who's read Concerning The Times for any length of time will know I stand for conservative Christian values. We believe in the sanctity of life and that homosexuality is a bondage that can be broken just like every other sin through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.
We should vote to support our Christian beliefs, write to our legislators, and advocate that the constitution should be interpreted and adhered to as the founders intended. We should attempt to vote out rogue judges and legislators who don't represent conservative traditional values. Moreover, we should pray earnestly for our nation and those in authority, even if we don't agree with them. But taking a stand while maintaining a godly witness is a far cry from what I see happening across much of the political and religious spectrum now.
I'm seeing a pseudo-Christian movement emerging and it's nothing short of being rooted in dominionism and kingdom now beliefs. This movement demands that the world stands up and take notice. They will get on facebook, twitter, and other social media to bring the fight to the world. The fight they bring is often politically motivated by a core set of beliefs. If we just get the right person in the office, the right party in the majority, or vote them all out, we will win America back for Jesus and stop the mouths of the opposition.
I've been around for many election cycles. I've seen movements and boycotts come and go. I've seen preachers become politicians and the result is still the same: The world is as dark as ever. Why do some expect to usher in the kingdom and win right now when the Bible doesn't promise this?
When a true Christian relies on the mighty weapons God has provided, our outlook changes. Here is what a great Bible commentator said about worldly versus godly weapons and our interaction with lost souls:
- Matthew Henry on 2 Cor 10:1-6 The work of the ministry is a spiritual warfare with spiritual enemies, and for spiritual purposes. Outward force is not the method of the gospel, but strong persuasions, by the power of truth and the meekness of wisdom. Conscience is accountable to God only; and people must be persuaded to God and their duty, not driven by force. Thus the weapons of our warfare are very powerful; the evidence of truth is convincing. What opposition is made against the gospel, by the powers of sin and Satan in the hearts of men! But observe the conquest the word of God gains. The appointed means, however feeble they appear to some, will be mighty through God. And the preaching of the cross, by men of faith and prayer, has always been fatal to idolatry, impiety, and wickedness.
What would happen if we engage, expose, and when necessary, confront people with the truth from God's word? Some would certainly come to saving faith in Jesus and leave homosexuality, plans for an abortion, and promoting darkness behind. The good news is the Lord brings the harvest and the results are up to Him.
What would happen if the shrill shouts for religious beliefs and rights in the public square were replaced by prayer? What if we prayed for desperate women around abortion clinics and offered help instead of shouts? Some people would come to saving faith in Jesus and save their baby.
Can you see yourself praying with homosexuals stuck in a lifestyle of perpetual loneliness and guilt by loving them enough to show them biblical hope to leave that lifestyle? God hears the prayer that comes from a broken and contrite heart. He will make a repentant person brand new. No amount of political or religious activism will change a person, only Jesus can. 1 Peter 3:15
Faith is one of the most powerful weapons we have. Instead of putting faith in a political party, a man, a government, or a movement, we must place our faith squarely on the Lord where it belongs. It is true that the world is dark and growing darker. None of the entities listed above have the power to make this world better and banish evil. Wars still rage, economies will fail, diseases will increase, disasters will continue, and some will choose to ignore the gospel and go on sinning. We can still remain hopeful because the battle is the Lord's. Ultimately, Jesus will rule the world and bring in perfect peace because he is the Prince of Peace.
Until that day comes, we must resolve to take heart, fight the good fight, and finish well. We are in this world, not of it. We are strangers, aliens, and exiles. We need to stop trying to change the world by 'Christianizing' the culture, it hasn't worked and never will. Carnal weapons won't bring one soul to the Lord.
Instead of worrying about who comes out of the closet, we should spend time in our prayer closet! It's a sad day when some Christians spend more time reading the latest gossip about the Kardashians or Kaitlin Jenner than they do reading the Bible. Many Christians are preoccupied with fixing society and Christianizing the culture. The end result is a church who is indistinguishable from the world in a manmade effort to reach it or the other extreme of a church who fights to usher in the kingdom here and now. Both results are unbiblical and resemble nothing of the early Christian believers in the first century.
The early believers didn't become like Rome to reach it for Jesus, nor did they protest and fight to win the culture over. They understood the battle is real and it has everything to do with eternity and the souls of individuals.
Look at the example the Apostles and first-century church left us. They lived in and among the Roman Empire. They were among multitudes of people who were living in the darkness of that generation. They didn't march on Rome. They didn't organize boycotts and galvanize the early Christians to bring the fight to the streets. They didn't work alongside Rome or the Sanhedrin to get the right guy into power to make Rome or Judea a Christian nation. The early Christians spoke the word of God unashamedly, prayed continuously, fasted earnestly, and preached Jesus boldly. People were saved, lives were changed, and the early Christian's hope wasn't diminished, even in the face of fierce persecution and cultural pressure.
If many of today's believers would quit clamoring for their rights, fighting the world, and demanding action, we could know the blessings of what it means to share in the trials, suffering, and ultimate victory of Jesus, much like the early church experienced. Instead of getting behind the campaign efforts of our favorite man or woman, we should be bold witnesses for Jesus.
Instead of working to bolster a political campaign, we should be telling people about heaven and hell. Instead of worrying that the nation will be doomed if the other one gets voted in, we should be looking forward to a city whose architect and builder is the Lord. Most importantly, instead of making sure all of the Christians are all geared up for election day, believers should be busy warning lost souls about judgment day.
Red wave, blue wave, and political rhetoric all pale in comparison to where lost souls will be one hundred years from now. It's a bit disheartening to see nationally known evangelical leaders spearheading political rallies instead of focussing on spreading the gospel.
We need to be broken over people going to hell and dying. Trying to fix America won't add souls to the Lamb's Book of Life. This world is passing away and will soon be under God's righteous falling judgment. I'm not being fatalistic here because I made it clear that how and why we should vote. But trying to stem the tide of lawlessness and evil in this nation by banning religious people together in some sort of movement is futility. We are not at war with this culture, we are at war with the enemy of people's souls.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
There is no need to place your faith in a political party, a person, a movement, or a fight. My hope isn't in the Republican party, the Democrat party, or having the right amount of Christians in Congress. My hope is in the Lord. As much as I care about the United States and I call it my home, I go through each day knowing we are strangers and aliens here because heaven is truly our eternal home.
May your faith and hope be placed squarely on the Lord Jesus no matter what the election results are.
The great classic hymn by Edward Mote rings true in our dark day:
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.