I am NOT political. It is difficult for this lover of words, derived from Hebrew and Greek, strung along in sequential sonnets to think critically about foreign policy, national debt, immigration, social reforms, declining infrastructure, inequality, the 2nd amendment, and the right to privacy encompassing a woman’s right to choose since roe v. wade, etc. This is not to say that I do not have opinions, even strong unshakeable opinions, but rather that it takes a great deal of effort on my part to get the creative right side of my brain to merge through the corpus collosum of this eight pound sphere of bone and matter sitting atop my frame, with the more analytically inclined problem solving left side. For the sake of this blog, I will do my best to think critically and exercise the left though I will not comment on most of the above.
I’m not sure that there has ever been more uncertain times in the history of America, but God has something all together different to say to the uncertainty of our hearts at this pressing time:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8
America is facing what could be her most troublesome trial to date in the history of her freedom, formed within the constitutional pages of liberty, governed under a free electoral system characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges, otherwise known as democracy.
If you are an American…if you have been given rights and privileges such as are uncommon to the surrounding world, but grievously taken advantage of by many who tread this free soil, then you should feel the weight of this massive trial impending America’s future in the upcoming election.
The original meaning of the word “trial” in the above passage translates from the Greek as: “an experiment, attempt, proving. The trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy. An enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from desires or from the outward circumstances. Of the condition of things, or a mental state, by which we are enticed to sin, or to a lapse from the faith and holiness. Adversity, affliction, trouble; sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness. Rebellion against God, by which His power and justice are as it were, put to the proof and challenged to show themselves” (BlueletterBible.org).
It is hard not to immediately recognize words such as fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy, the condition of things, lapse from the faith and holiness…adversity, affliction, trouble sent by God. But the most frightening and significant thing I read in the above definition is “Rebellion against God, by which his power and justice are as it were, put to the proof and challenged to show themselves.”
There is much I could say about that last sentence, we will start there and work our way back. The rebellion against God in America that has inflicted her with this present trial upon her in this upcoming election, either causing her to fling herself into a deeper tailspin of rebellion, sin, death and destruction or in desperation turn from her transgressions, repent and cry out to the God of the universal expanse that even if He found one….she may find her pardon, is at the root of whether we as American’s can be wise in “voting our conscience.” Some are comforted by this overused phrase in the last few months, finding it a springboard into an ocean of wisdom as they seek the face of God through the tidal waves of uncertainty and drink up all that He offers to aid them in the upcoming agonizing decision of the soul that plays itself out in the conscience. Others find the above phrase lacking depth and discretion granting American citizens the permission to just vote whatever feels right, off the top of their heads, without taking the time and effort to wrestle through articles, listen to debates, no matter how frustrating and repulsive we find them, and most importantly to pray and search the Scriptures to find what God would say on this historical scale of checks and balances. Both views are right.
So I will start with wisdom. I am not a theologian. I am not politically inclined. I am a seeker of wisdom and daily cry out for the fear of the Lord. Here is what I believe He has given me even though this is the last thing I ever thought I would blog about in a million years.
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9.
The above verse should be of great comfort to us wisdom seekers, after-all, it was penned by the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon. A man who could have had anything he wanted as King yet asked that he might be granted wisdom knowing the weight of a nation’s welfare was upon his shoulders. (See 2nd Chronicles 1:10-11).
So if there is nothing new under the sun, then surely the weight of this imposing trial before us as American’s has not surprised God, nor should surprise us. The question is not to be “what if…” fill in the blank. But rather, “what now?” What can I do now, Lord, in wisdom and trust as I navigate through the messy avenues of my conscience that often lead me astray, but ultimately were designed as a map to lead me to a knowledge of You and your will?
And as always wisdom is found when asked for in faith.
“run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her” Jeremiah 5:1.
Similarly, we find earlier in Scripture, Abraham pleading with God to spare His judgment on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18. (I would encourage you to read the chapter in its entirety.) Abraham humbly and boldly goes before the Lord on behalf of the two morally wicked cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, in an attempt to intercede, beg, cry out for God’s mercy to triumph over His judgment. He doesn’t have to go see for himself the wickedness of these cities, there is no justifying their sin, their depravity, their perversion and stark defiance and blatant rebellion towards God. He knows it exists and he has nothing left to do but, in trembling and fear, approach a Holy God.
“Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD.” Genesis 18:22.
I will give one last example as it refers to having a knowledge of national sin and its solution:
“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil…if the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom and Gomorrah…When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings, incense is an abomination to me….I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly…when you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause…And I said, ‘Woe is me! for I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Isaiah 1:4-6,9, 12-13, 15-17,6:5.
In the above passages we see faithful servants of God seeking people of justice and righteousness who may be found throughout the land, but they don’t stop there. They have humbled themselves before a mighty, all powerful, God of justice and mercy and they cry out for the common good of the nation, city, infrastructure of community God has appointed them to, and include themselves as among those who need to repent. So what insight can we glean from these scriptures that will guide our conscience in this present trial?
The wisdom is both collective…and deeply personal.
- Collectively, there are strength in numbers. This is helpful to us, as Christians, when we are told that 25 million of us passively sat at home in the last election. Whether this was due to pride, hopelessness, or an unwillingness to seek the common good of our nation because our conscience led us to reason that neither candidate fit our parameters of personal preference in the next
Commander in Chief, we can see how this rule of thumb in voting our conscience hurt us rather than helped us as a nation.
- Jesus said, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them” Matthew 18:20. This is a simple solution to the weight of this trial upon our conscience. Are we humbling ourselves and praying together? Are we setting aside differences of opinion, having hard conversations, searching the scriptures to see what God would say rather than what our BIG feelings say, and wrestling these things out together in corporate and private gatherings of prayer? Are we gathering together and praying for the common good of our nation, our neighborhoods and communities, our governing authorities over legislative branches? Or have we forsaken the fellowship of prayer and the deep communion with Christ and one another that brings an unshakeable forging together of a people prepared, steadfast and immovable in the greatest commandment to love God first and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We cannot love our neighbor if we do not seek to love God first and to obey His commands. When we humble ourselves and pray and gather together to seek the common good of our neighbor we cannot help but vote, even if we elect a fool.
- What is the common good? Here is where it hits home at the deepest level of our conscience, and thus is why voting your conscience can be good if used in the most basic sense of the word “conscience.” The conscience was designed by God to discern between what was morally good and what was morally evil. Here is a quick definition of the Greek word “conscience,” as found in Hebrews 9:14. The conscience is referred to as the awareness of the the soul distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending one, condemning the other. So we can see that the conscience was to be used as a tool in helping to guide our decisions at the most basic level of right and wrong. This wasn’t meant to be difficult, in fact, God wasn’t trying to make things harder for people to be in tune with their consciences. Romans 1:20-32 reminds us that “His invisible attributes…have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world…so they are without excuse.” What this means is that the goodness of God was put on display for all to see and understand through His creation. However, the introduction of sin into the world, through our own sinful desires condemned us and made all of us prisoners of an “evil conscience.” We needed nothing less than blood to cleanse them, and not just any blood, but the blood of a spotless lamb; the blood of Christ, the one who knew no sin, to become sin, so that in Him we may become the righteousness of God” 2nd Corinthians 5:21. And, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrew 9:14. Since we were able to “perceive” the invisible attributes of God that were morally good, we are without excuse. I do not mean moral in terms of human morality, though that is but a dim reflection of our humanity as image bearers of our glorious God . I don’t want to be responsible for clouding your image of the God who is triune, and within that holy circle of three, is at the same time wholly good and wholly love. He is not the most good, or the most love as if there are limits of these attributes as we assign them to humanity. But rather He is only good and only love even in His judgments. If our consciences, therefore, being cleansed by Christ’s blood are able to perceive God as inherently good, then we can begin to search His heart in terms of what it means to seek His common grace for the common good of this nation.
I am sure I am losing you by this point, but if I could wrap this up. I would tell you to “vote your conscience” if you are a Christian, but encourage you to wrestle with what is morally good and morally evil. Here are three things that may be helpful in governing your conscience:
In God’s goodness He is:
- Pro-life; knitting together each tiny image bearer of Himself (Psalm 139:13-14). He is against every form of murder and for 43 years America has bore the guilt of blood-stained hands and feet in the legalization of Abortion in roe v. wade. Take heed the warning of Proverbs 24:11-12, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to His work? If you vote for Hillary Clinton, the blood of the unborn will stain your conscience before a Holy God.
- A God who holds the marriage bed between a man and woman in highest honor as a reflection of Christ loving His bride the church. God created marriage. He is for marriage. Marriage makes beautiful the laying down of one life to serve the other and together follow the commands of God, to be fruitful and multiply and show the world that as a people who hold true the familial infrastructure created by God, we become a beacon of hope and a blanket of warmth to those who have suffered the breaking down of this institution of marriage and family.
- He is a God who hates these seven things: There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes,feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community (Proverbs 6:16-19).
America, seeking the common good of the this nation under the common grace of God who sends rain on both the righteous and the wicked, means to consciously and critically think through the moral issues of our day that found their origin in a Holy God who has the power to heal and restore or judge our “Rebellion against Him, by which his power and justice are as it were, put to the proof and challenged to show themselves.”
Ask yourself, “Is there a candidate that may hold the tiniest shred of hope to implement the return of America to integrity and virtue?”
A closing personal note to end on… It is no secret that I could not choose the lesser of two evils in this upcoming presidential election. In my heart of hearts I saw evil as the driving force behind both campaigns. Both candidates have acted immorally, unjustly, and given themselves over to blatant rebellion against God in their pasts and even in their present standing before Him. However, If I serve a God of life (who Jesus is referred to over and over throughout the scriptures) and who is for life because He is life, and if I serve and love a God who created the beautiful image of marriage in the most sacredness and purity of Christ’s love for the church between a man and woman, and If I know and love a God who desires to restore and heal wicked nations and commands His followers to “seek the welfare of the city He has appointed them to…”(Jeremiah 29:7), in order that they may enjoy the goodness of God and his blessing in that city, then I have to vote for the one who stands for the policies that most reflect God’s heart. I have to have the wisdom to see that the candidate who has surrounded himself with conservative advisors and spiritual leaders will bring the most hope for America and trust that under those God has appointed to advise him, he will humble himself under the mighty hand of God should he be elected.
If your conscience has been cleansed from dead works, fellow believer in Christ, seek wisdom. Pray together. Lay down your pride, and vote.
Held in steadfast love,