Friday, June 6, 2008

So Where Do We Go From Here?

by Bruce Mills

Well, the nomination process is over. The Democrats and the Republicans both know who their respective party’s candidate will be in November. Now begins the long, brutal, bruising political campaign as each group seeks to have its candidate elected. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent, and just as many words will be written, over the next several months as Americans determine who their nation’s president will be for the next four years.

As I thought about that prospect, my thoughts returned to the need for Christians to reject the world’s view, which places its hope for change and a better life in the achievements of men. Over the next several months, campaign commercials will descend upon us like Niagara Falls, promising more jobs, a safer nation, improved health care, an end to the war in Iraq, and a better way of life--provided, of course, that the candidate of the political party that paid for the commercial is elected. And Americans—notorious for voting with their pocketbook—will rush like lemmings to the sea to vote for the individual whom they perceive to help them achieve those goals.

But the truth is that all the achievements that any president, congress, or government can ever attain are temporary. No matter how wealthy, safe, healthy, and enjoyable a particular society may become because of their efforts, in the end it will all pass away. Nations and kingdoms rise and fall, and have done so since the dawn of civilization. Some of those nations were great empires, controlling far more world power within the context of their day and age than the United States has ever possessed. Yes, the United States is currently the most powerful nation that has ever existed, but those who think it will always be so are very short-sighted in their thinking. In fact, a survey of the Bible’s teaching on future world events has no references whatsoever that would indicate that the United States will play any kind of significant role in those events.

So am I saying that we should ignore the political process and be unconcerned about who is elected as our nation’s highest leader? I’m not saying that at all. I believe Christians should participate in the political process by voting for the candidate whose beliefs best represent biblical moral standards and who will uphold our privilege as believers to worship and evangelize as we desire. Issues such as protecting our nation from external and internal attacks and making decisions which improve our economy are important, but secondary issues.

Keep in mind that we must not trust that whoever is elected can or will guarantee such benefits and privileges to us. Scripture tells us, Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation” (Psalm 146:3). Those who place their hopes in political leaders to save them from the difficulties and concerns of life are shortsighted and doomed to disappointment. Our economy may become worse than it already is, Islamic terrorists may (read “will”) attack us again, healthcare may continue to increasingly become a benefit of the wealthy, and Christians who stand for the truths contained in God’s Word will continue to be increasingly rejected and persecuted by our society because of their positions on certain moral and theological issues; specifically, homosexuality, abortion, and the wrath of God toward sinful, self-righteous mankind.

But Christians live every day in nations where the privileges we enjoy in this nation are non-existent; places such as Myanmar, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and North Korea. They are forbidden to openly worship, to evangelize, or even hold certain jobs. But we must not forget that Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). He is actively building and maintaining His church in places which seek to devour and destroy it; where the political leadership is violently opposed to the gospel and Christians do not have the benefits of jobs, healthcare, and safety.

So please exercise the privileges God has graciously granted to you as a citizen of this nation. Vote in the upcoming election. But do not vote based on what the candidate claims he will do for you financially. That’s a very greedy, and thus sinful, viewpoint. Rather, vote for the candidate whose positions on moral issues best reflect the standards of God’s Word. Of course you should be concerned about all those other issues like financial soundness and national security, but ultimately you must rest and trust in our Lord’s sovereign control over those matters and submit to the government regardless of which political party is in control. We need to value what is important to God above our own self-interests. As the psalmist said, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:9).

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