I got off of Facebook permanently about a year ago and I haven't reactivated my account a single time in that time. But you know what I remember from the last time our country was in an election season?
One party: you don't agree with me and you're going to vote for That Guy; you're an idiot and a million laughing emojis because of how stupid you are.
Other party: You're the idiot. *insert hateful meme with Other Party's face on it designed to shame the other party for being so stupid as to actually believe fill-in-the-blank*
I can't tell you how many times Matt and I have turned to each other and said, Wow, sooo happy to be off Facebook.
Which is why I'm a lotta bit cautious about this post.
I have written this post in my head a hundred times but I've left it there because of how divisive politics can be, and of all the things I want this blog to be, divisive is not one of them. I also think politics are a huge distraction for many Christians from the gospel and really knowing God and his word. If we get our "doctrine" from a major news channel and surround ourselves with a lot of people who agree with us, then we tend to think Jesus does too.
I use a reading plan for reading my Bible. I'm not a fan of devotional reading (i.e. a random verse a day coupled with a feel-good blurb) because it tends to put the emphasis on us: what is this doing for me, where do I fit into this, how does this conform to me. Me, me, me. I think it's so important to understand context while also fully aware that because it's a living and active word God does use it to speak into our lives all these thousands of years later.
I'm at the end of my plan which has me in books like Daniel, Ezekiel, Micah, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, and because it's a plan that has Old, New, and a Gospel everyday, I've also been in John and Revelation.
The timing and congruency of these passages is unreal. Here's how I would narrow down the themes in many of these books:
1) Trusting in ungodly and arrogant rulers to protect from outside threats and their promises to make rich and subsequently God's discipline, whether it be through famine, captivity, or poverty.
2) because of this, repent, repent, repent. Repent while there's still time that God may have mercy not only on us but on our nations.
I just finished Jonah yesterday and because this is a book I've read many times and seen the Veggie Tales version of even more times than that, I wanted to read it with fresh eyes and fresh perspective. And right out of the gate, my commentary from the ESV Bible blew me away.
"The Lord is a God of boundless compassion not just for 'us' (Jonah and the Israelites) but also for the 'them' (the pagan sailors and Ninevites)" (ESV Bible, pg. 1683).
The entire book of Jonah is about God sending one of his people to a ruthless and cruel nation (historians say that the Ninevites had rows and piles of human skulls because of their evil and cruelty) to relay God's message of mercy and compassion towards them if they would repent. Which they did. And Jonah was furious that God would extend compassion to outsiders, and to such cruel outsiders at that. In fact, Ravi Zacharias says that when God asks Jonah if he's angry about it, that in the original Hebrew language, Jonah's response is so strong that it could be translated, Yes, I'm damned angry!
I've narrowed down two reasons why I think Donald Trump is so popular in this presidential race:
1) His promises to protect us from fill-in-the-blank, but most notably Muslims and Islam.
2) His promises to make us richer.
In Daniel chapter 5, Daniel is called upon by King Belshazzar to interpret a terrifying message that was literally written on the wall for him; for brevity's sake, I'll summarize what Daniel said:
King Belshazzar, your father was given power and wealth by God. What he said and purposed happened because of his great power and wealth and renown. But, BUT
"when his heart was lifted up and his spirit hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from among the children of mankind (literally driven insane)... until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this... And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, (material wealth) which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored" (vs. 20-23).
Daniel went on to say that Belshazzar had been weighed in God's balance and found wanting and the days of his kingdom were numbered. That night Belshazzar's kingdom was taken captive and he was killed.
Let me tell a quick story. Matt and I have friends that we love dearly, she's American and he's Moroccan. He's also Muslim. We have them in our home, they have us in their home. He's cooked Moroccan food for us (yum). He's shared his family and stories with us. He's painted a vibrant picture of growing up in a small town in Morocco and the way everyone cares for one another and the way they eat their meals on cushions gathered tightly around one big table. The way the siblings take care of their aging parents. Agh, our hearts are just so tender towards him. We truly love them both.
And I just told Matt the other day that I had prayed and told the Lord that I would have no greater joy than to see ____ come to know Jesus. It would truly be my greatest delight to see him come to know Christ and have new life. My heart aches when I think of him being separated from the Lord.
To me, and so many others who love those of other beliefs, it's not "those people". It's not Them and Us. It's people by name that we love and desperately want to see turn to Jesus.
As long as we allow Party lines and groupthink to control how we think and vote, it stays Us and Them. I think one of the most astounding things about Jesus is that he came to us and has chosen to know each of us intimately. Knowing makes all the difference. It's a lot harder to spew hateful rhetoric towards a person or group when you know what keeps that person up at night; the fears they have for their children; you've seen the tears trace their cheeks; you've cried your own tears for their loss and abuse; when you read in God's own Word how desperately he loves those in darkness and the great lengths he goes to rescue and redeem.
No, I won't be voting for Donald Trump. By God's grace, I want to avoid the pitfall that the Israelites found themselves in time and time again: putting their trust and the future of their nation in the hands of an arrogant and rich ruler to protect them and make them rich and ultimately turning away from God in the process.
And an interesting thing is that they kept up their religious habits. They kept offering sacrifices and worshiping in the temple, but Amos 5 says that because they had trusted in other things and their hearts had turned from the Lord, God tells them:
"I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."
(It's also interesting that just before these verses it says in verse 10 that the people "hate those who speak the truth." This is just as true today, though it should in no way mean we stop being truth-tellers.)
And if we think that this message is only for the Israelites in the Old Testament, here's what Revelation says to believers now:
"For you say, 'I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,' not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked" (5:17).
And a couple verses later, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent" (vs. 19).
Be zealous about God's truth and repent where we've believed anything else. Repent where we've trusted in anyone and anything other than God alone.
"'Yet even now,' declares the Lord,
'return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.'
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster."
2nd Corinthians 7:10 puts it this way:
"For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."
Listen, I know what grief feels like. It's severe and it's painful. Repentance isn't free from pain; it brings grief when we see how and where we've turned from God and put our trust in earthly things, but God's ultimate goal is our true freedom. Freedom from misplaced trust that leads to unavoidable disappointment and discipline. He reproves us because he loves us. It's his kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). It's unkindness that allows a friend to keep a steady pace in darkness towards death.
Ultimately this isn't about just Donald or even Hilary or Bernie or Ted. It's about the lens with which we see and vote and live in this country. Is it a Biblical lens? Are we using godly wisdom and not the "wisdom" that comes naturally to our coddled selves, that James 3 tells us is demonic in origin? We can always find something to substantiate what we believe but if it contradicts Biblical truth and godly wisdom then it's origin is demonic. The Bible is clear on that.
The early Christians didn't respond to an ungodly nation and ruler with legislation and hateful two-party lines. They preached the gospel: turn from sin, receive God's free gift of mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, have new life and eternal life. And then they took that new life and spent it on behalf of others in Jesus' Name. And Acts 11:26 tells us that other people first called the believers Christians (like Christ/of Christ). Their lives so looked like Jesus' that they became his literal namesake.
So let's repent. Let us return to the Lord and repent. Let us put our hope and trust and belief in Jesus only.
May our hearts be wholly His and may we walk in truth, armed with godly wisdom found in his word alone.