I want to ask some questions of my fellow American Christians in light of yesterday’s elections. If you are not a Christian, or not an American, you can read on if you like, but this entry is not for you.
Question #1: Since the beginning of the church (ca. AD 35), when did the church experience its most phenomenal growth rate? When did it hold most closely to the teachings of Christ? When was the power of the Holy Spirit most evident? Most of us would probably answer, the first century AD, the early church, the church of the apostles.
Question #2: What was the government of the day like? Of course, that would be the Roman Empire. As a little historical review: the major emperors from AD 35-90 were as follows: Caligula (certifiably insane, named one of his horses consul, had family members killed), Claudius (persecuted Jews, loved gladiator games), Nero (we know about him), Vespasian (destroyed Jerusalem with son future emperor Titus in command), Domitian (demanded to be called “Lord and God”, persecuted the church, etc).
OK, so you see where I’m going with this.
I came away from Election Day yesterday concerned, but not primarily with who was elected or which party is in control of our government. Sure, there’s lots of things to be concerned about there. Things don’t look too pretty.
But what concerned me most is it seems that, judging from the reaction in the social media, much of the American church has completely lost its perspective. We have Christians threatening to leave for Australia, start a revolution, or just slip into despondency.
Come on, folks! Did God get voted out of office? (By the way, before you pack your bags, have you seen who the current PM of Australia is? She’s an avowed atheist somewhere rather to the left of President Obama. But that’s not important right now. . .) We pay lip service to the idea that “God is in control” but I’m beginning to wonder if we really believe it?
So a few more questions for thought. What if . . . What if . . .
- What if God gets more glory if our country enters financial ruin than prosperity? What if more people come to Christ in a depression? Is the loss of your personal savings worth that? (According to Ephesians 1 and I Corinthians 4, we’re going to inherit “all things” one day with Christ anyway.)
- What if God gets more glory by his church standing strong as a light in an even darker world as America abandons Christian morality? (Those Romans weren’t too moral either, if you’ll remember.)
- What if God gets more glory if our religious freedoms erode, and we have to stand under the threat of persecution, like our brothers and sisters in the early church? (Let me put it this way: would God have been more glorified by Christians taking up arms against the emperor? Or more glorified by simply saying “We will not bow to Caesar” and facing the lions with a song on their lips.)
- What if the tough circumstances make it more likely I will be conformed to the image of Christ than the easy ones? Can I be joyful in the tough circumstances?
- What if today we’re a step closer to our Lord’s return than yesterday? Am I more concerned about my comfort and security now, or life with Christ in eternity?
Remember, this life is a blip in the scope of eternity. Imagine you have a one month vacation on a beautiful beach front in Hawaii somewhere. One month. Oh, and it’s a ten minute drive from the airport to the resort. You notice as the ride goes along that it’s a little stuffy. The van’s a little worn, the AC doesn’t work, and the seats are dirty. In fact, it’s downright uncomfortable. But, really, is your focus on the 10 minute van ride or the 1 month vacation that’s in front of you?
Yeah, this life might get a little tough. Financially, things might get bad. We might face persecution. It could get ugly. Raising our kids in a fallen world is tricky.
But some things are true today that were also true last week, last century, and two thousand years ago:
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. (Isaiah 40:21-23)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. . . And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:18, 28, 35, 37-39)
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11, 12)
Stand in your faith! Faith is easy when times are good. But the tough times show our faith for what it is, and give us an opportunity to have our faith strengthened and purified.
The worst thing about the elections won’t be about who was or who wasn’t elected. Rather, if the American church abandons its faith in God’s goodness and sovereignty because of who was or wasn’t elected, that will be a far worse tragedy.
So, rejoice! Because great is your reward in heaven!
No matter who won yesterday. . . or who wins tomorrow. . .