If it doesn't count for Christ, it doesn't count.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

who are you gonna trust?

As a Christian who is VERY interested in the process of electing men and women to serve our country in leadership and official positions, I find myself looking at our current presidential race in a different way than I have before. And I'm realizing that I should have been looking at it this way in each of the 9, soon to be 10, presidential elections I have cast my vote in. It is the choice we have to make that has brought me here.

I don't get political on this blog, so this is not going to be a political post. I openly support a candidate and a point of view, but I won't use this blog for that purpose. That being said, I am so glad, honored, privileged, and humbled to be a part of THE group of people who can, should, and, I believe this time will, determine the outcome of the election and the course of our nation. It may seem odd, but party affiliation has nothing to do with it. My . . . no, wait . . . our opinion on the issues has nothing to do with it. It goes far beyond any election.

As a Christian, I, quite remarkably, am among a group of people who are called by the name of God. There is absolutely nothing remarkable about me. The Holy Spirit living in me brought "remarkable" with Him when He moved in. Because of Jesus Christ, I am an adopted son of God.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)   Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love  he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will —  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

1 John 3:1-2 (NIV)  See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

There is much more scripture to support our adoption into the family of God, but I just want to let God's Word reinforce who we are. If we know Jesus, we are His children . . . literally. We are, and we have a right to be, called by His name.

So, with that in mind, a very familiar passage, a promise from our Father, tells us our part in continuing the hurt and pain, or in healing our nation. It is His work to do, but we have a grave responsibility to Him that we must carry out if we are to see healing occur.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)  "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

"If my people, who are called by my name," - that's us . . . Christians, believers and followers of Jesus

"will humble themselves" - I have to put me down and lift God up in my life.  I must give up my own agendas - personal, political, religious, everything - and humble myself before God, knowing that He reigns over all, and it is His way and His plan that matters and not mine. 

"and pray" - self explanatory, but we must pray earnestly, not out of fear or obligation or ritualistically, but in love and respect and anticipation, talking to our Heavenly Father as we have talked to our earthly parent, expecting something to come from the conversation.

"and seek my face" - we must seek God's will, His desire, and live every moment right before Him, in His presence, hiding nothing and living only to please Him.

"and turn from their wicked ways" - This is where we might get hung up. After all, we're Christians! We are children of God, called by His name. "Wicked ways?  We gave up our wicked ways! He must be talking to those unrepentant sinners out there." Well, He's not talking to them. He is talking to us! "if my people", remember? So "their wicked ways" here applies to those of us who are God's children.

Once that is settled, our next obvious question is, "What wicked ways?" 'cause, in our minds, it's still not quite settled. We have to search our hearts. And, if we come up empty, unable to recognize what God would call "wicked" within us, we have to go to Him and ask Him to reveal those things in us that we cannot see for ourselves.

It could be any number of things, but let me make a suggestion. In keeping with the context of the Word, we know that Israel's greatest problem, her greatest sin, was their worship of false gods, their failure to consistently trust God. Certainly "behavioral sin" occurred throughout Israel and Judah. And all sin has consequence. But, their greatest troubles came when Israel and Judah as a nation(s) were out of fellowship with the one true God and were worshiping false gods. They were depending on inanimate objects to provide for them what their true God had always provided and promised to continue to provide.

We have witnessed time and time again how dangerous it is, as individuals or as a nation, to take ourselves from under the protection and providence of God. Not because He will grow angry and "get us", but because we leave ourselves open to and vulnerable to all the forces that are out there relentlessly seeking to kill, steal and destroy us. . . . Forces God protects us from when we cling to Him, and even when we don't. We cannot imagine the utter chaos and destruction that would befall us if God, even for a brief moment, completely lifted His hand of protection from us and left us alone to face enemies many of us don't even know we have. But when we turn away from God we are turning to something else. And, at some point, God is going to use what we turn to to bring us back to Himself. Refusing that, we will find ourselves being destroyed by the very thing we have allowed to take God's place in our lives. 

So, is our wickedness some form of idol worship that we don't recognize? Who do we depend on? What do we depend on? Where do we look and where do we go with our wants and needs, and to whom do we give credit, praise, and thanks? Are we looking for a man or a woman to lead our nation in a certain direction, and then we either rejoice or mourn depending on that outcome? Certainly, the person in office is vitally important. But, they only occupy the office because God gave it to them. So, if our desires and expectations stop at "the office" we will find ourselves deeply disappointed. We must not fall prey to the notion of "OK, God. This is good. We can take it from here."

When it comes to worshiping idols and depending upon false Gods, are you worshiping the upcoming election? To be sure, this is a vital election . . . perhaps the most important one of our generation. I am not criticizing people who are greatly involved in the process and who are heavily promoting one candidate or the other. I do that myself. But, we must be diligent to seek God and follow His direction in this.

Because . . .

"then I will hear from Heaven" - When our hearts are given over to God and we are truly seeking Him and His way with no hidden or sub-agenda of our own He will hear (acknowledge, recognize, act upon) our prayer. Pure prayer has nothing to do with eloquence, vocabulary, diction, tone of voice, or posture . . . it has everything to do with the heart.

"and I will forgive their sin" -  We have only to look at the history of Israel in the Old Testament to see that, for God's people, poor leadership, sinful leadership, Godless leadership, is a result of and a cultivator of the people's sin. God will not heal our land before He forgives our sin, and repentance is required for forgiveness.

I hasten to say that, as Christians, our sin has already been forgiven. When Jesus said, "It is finished" upon the cross, it was finished, and it is finished. We have accepted that great gift of forgiveness and salvation, and it is ours for all eternity. But, we continue to sin. Unacknowledged sin is unrepentant sin, and that causes problems in our life. It will not send us to Hell. . . . "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." But, like sin does, this sin will continue to eat away at us and prevent us from becoming all God intends for us to be. We must acknowledge our sin, repent of our sin, and ask God to forgive our sin, so we can move forward in the righteousness He provides and live the life He has planned for us.

It is the same for us as a nation of believers. It is up to the believers of our nation. God is faithful and will forgive our sin as individuals and as a nation.

"and will heal their land." What does a healed America look like? I don't know, but I expect it looks much like the one God described to the children of Israel so long ago. I believe it is a prosperous land where opportunity abounds for everyone. I'm sure it is a land where violent crime, substance abuse and addiction, pornography and immorality of all kinds, selfishness and greed,  . . . all this and more become rare rather than common everyday occurrences,  and provoke outrage rather than a shrug of the shoulder, and receive a just penalty under well administered law rather than a slap on the wrist that has no just or rehabilitative value. I believe a healed land is one where we help those in need to have a better life rather than a sub-standard life. A healed land is surely one where the norm is for people to join together in a common cause of truly living as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all  A healed land will not be perfect. Problems - sin - will still exist. I pray that a healed land is one that has been swept by revival and continues to honor God. In a healed land, God will be revered rather than reviled.

All of that seems so far away now. But that is only because we are looking at the work, the destruction, of mankind's sinful nature upon our nation. It won't be man's work that restores and heals our land. It will be the work of God's own hand that does that, even though, I'm sure, He will make extensive use of us in the process. And we really have little or no idea of what all that looks like despite what we imagine. 

As God has prescribed, it will be, however, our cries, the prayers of those who are called by His name, that moves Him to pour out His mercy and grace and heal and restore this great nation.
One more time:

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)  "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

 Millions of Americans are doing this right now! Are you? The bigger question is; Are we just going through the motions, or do we fully expect and anticipate a great healing? And the upcoming election is not the be-all-end-all to that. We don't know how, or even if, that figures into God's plan for healing. One way or the other, I'm pretty sure it has its role. The important thing is that we look to no man or woman, no politician or leader, to fix our nation, but that we look to God alone.

And, while you at it, remember that these Unites States of America is not the only nation in dire need of God's healing. We have Christian brothers and sisters all over the world who are praying to God for healing for their lands as well. Why not join them? Are you concerned that that is an awful lot of healing for one God to accomplish? How great is our God?


Since you hung in here are read this long post, why not watch this long video? It'll get you goin'! Even at 1:15 am.