The “most important” election

Today — Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 — is election day. And it is the “most important election in our lifetime.”

Really?

Again?

Before you go and label me a cynic allow me to point something out. I am a lover of individual liberty and free markets. I would prefer an extremely limited federal government that was fearful of the people rather than the federal government we now have that wields unlimited power and makes people fearful. I despise what this president and congress have done and I voted against as many of them as I could.

But…

I am growing tired of the “most important election in our lifetime” mantra. The last election was the “most important election of our lifetime.” The next election will be the “most important election of our lifetime.” And, while I am not surprised that people who have no hope beyond this world fall prey to such rhetoric, I continue to be disappointed that so many Christians do.

Christians have been encouraging one another to pray. Pray for our leaders. Pray for the elections. Pray for our country. But how do we pray?

I’m afraid many of us have been asking God to accomplish our will. We know what we want from the “most important election in our lifetime” and so we ask God to bring about that outcome. It reveals that we have grossly misplaced our faith.

We think this is the “most important election in our lifetime” because we have placed our faith firmly in the government. We are looking to the state for answers when we should be looking to Scripture. We are trusting in the election of “godly” men and women when we should be trusting in God alone. We have decided for ourselves how things ought to be and our prayers are for God to approve that which we’ve already determined is right.

This is idolatry.

Beyond that, it shows we refuse to pray as Jesus himself taught us to pray…

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. They kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”

Clearly this scares us. We don’t honestly pray for God’s will to be done because, deep, down inside, we are afraid that God’s will and our will are not the same.

What if God’s will isn’t the same as ours? What if God allows the destruction of America the way He allowed Babylon to destroy Judah?

But this is precisely why we should pray in the manner Jesus commanded — that God will conform our will to His will. That we will come to want what He wants. That we will desire His glory and His kingdom so much that we become unconcerned about the fate of a temporary, earthly kingdom — even the one in which we live.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” — Matthew 6:33

If we do that perhaps we will stop swearing loyalty to a man-made object, mistaking nationalism for patriotism, allowing ourselves to be manipulated by the state and embracing an earthly empire over God’s kingdom.

Ultimately this election means nothing. It will neither hasten nor delay God’s plans. He will accomplish all his will exactly how and when He intends.

Don’t be distracted. God holds this election in His hand — just like every other election.

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About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

2 Responses to The “most important” election

  1. “Ultimately this election means nothing. It will neither hasten nor delay God’s plans. He will accomplish all his will exactly how and when He intends.
    Don’t be distracted. God holds this election in His hand — just like every other election.”

    I like what you have written, but I’m not sure I entirely agree with the last point.

    God grants mankind freewill, and our use of that surely does affect the way God works with us.

    Take Nineveh for instance. The people had a vote, and decided to respond to God’s warning with repentance. According to the book of Jonah the people actually changed what they were doing. They didn’t just talk about it. God therefore changed his planned destruction of the city.
    Some might say that God knew all along that it wouldn’t get round to actual destruction, but that makes a mockery of God giving the choice or even listening to our prayers. This scenario is repeated many times throughout scripture.

    2Chron7v14. 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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

    Many proclaim they believe in God, but their actions in life say otherwise. As someone said to me recently, in profession they are christians ,but practice they are atheists. In other words their faith has little affect outside of Christian fellowship and church.
    It is this type of faith (or faithlessness) which leads to demands for BIG government which will properly take care of them, and make them feel secure with proper health care, good food in their belly and nice houses. Little thought is given to personal responsibility any more. The government should do it for them just like when Israel demanded a King for that same reason. That the king should go out and fight their battles for them.

    When Israel demanded a king, God granted it, even though he strongly rebuked it as a rejection of His reign over them. God however has a high regard for our foolishness and invariably lets it run its course, and reap its rewards. He even told the Israelites not to come running to him because of the evil of the king ruling over them. God would no longer listen to them on that matter. They had chosen and had to live with it.

    Britain has been there long before Obama. In 1948 the Labour government here established the Welfare State, along with the National Health Service. Their actual promise was that the government would “take care of everyone from the cradle to the grave”. Sounds a little like playing God to me! The result has been a growing pathetic infantilisation of the nation ever since that date. It has established whole generations of people sucking at the tit of government benefits, with no idea of anything different.

    This is all about abdication of personal responsibility. It is again, a challenge directly against God, that He should no longer reign over them. Instead the state has become God, with the NHS especially venerated and worshipped. Np political party dares now to touch the NHS because of the dependency of the people.

    Such voting decisions have amazing spiritual consequences in our relationship with God. It is no good praying in one direction, but voting in another. God takes note of the latter rather than the former, just as Jesus pointed out regarding the Pharisees.
    Our votes count just as much as our prayers!

  2. Chip says:

    Francisdrakeprivateer,

    I don’t mind if readers don’t entirely agree with me. That’s sort of the point of this whole exercise — to discuss and learn. Now, I’m going to explain why I think your take on man’s free will is wrong.

    I am a strong believer in the sovereignty of God. I think Scripture bears this out with verses like…

    — “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” — Job 42:2

    — “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” — Psalm 115:3

    — “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD.” — Proverbs 21:30

    — “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” — Psalm 135:6

    — God, “…works all things according to the counsel of his will.” — Ephesians 1:11

    There is just too much evidence in Scripture to support the idea that God is in complete control. Furthermore, I think Scripture clearly teaches that God is in control with regard to man. I don’t think God watched the elections from heaven last night worried about the outcome. I don’t think He was waiting to see what would happen so He could then decide how He is going to deal with America. That view of God is called “Open Theism,” and is contrary to the testimony of Scripture — as I pointed out in a previous post… https://thideology.wordpress.com/2006/06/02/standing-on-the-promises-of-god-for-now/

    In fact, I think what happened in the elections is exactly what God intended to happen.

    Now, I do believe that man has a free will. I exercise mine every day. However, I think man’s free will is completely consistent with and subordinate to God’s sovereignty. I do not have the ability with my free will to thwart the will of God. Look at the examples from Scripture…

    — God raised Pharaoh up and hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that God’s purposes might be fulfilled. He didn’t ask Pharaoh if that was OK with him.

    — When God sent Ananias to Saul of Tarsus he said, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” — Acts 9

    Notice he didn’t tell Ananias to “Go, and see if Saul is willing to become my servant.” Saul was going to become the Apostle Paul because God was sovereign over him — even his will.

    — Consider the virgin Mary. God didn’t ask her if she was “willing” to give birth to Jesus, he just told her she was going to — I dealt with that subject more in depth here… https://thideology.wordpress.com/2008/12/23/could-mary-have-said-no/

    But in western Christianity (America in particular) we’ve elevated man’s “free will” to the point where we regard it as sacred — as something God may not assail. I’m saying when man’s “free will” and God’s sovereignty are at odds God’s sovereignty wins.

    Let’s consider your example of Nineveh. God ordained that entire event. He ordained the end (that Nineveh would repent) and He ordained the means (Jonah was going to carry the message to them). How do I know this? Two reasons: 1) Because that’s how anyone comes to repentance. God grants it to them. 2) Because the entire story of Jonah is a “type” (an Old Testament story that is an example or illustration of something to come in the New Testament). It’s a prophecy played out on a grand stage.

    Consider…

    Jonah is “dead” (swallowed by a big fish), “buried for three days” (in the stomach of the fish), and “resurrected” (spewed upon the beach). Jonah is a “type” of Christ. Jesus himself referenced this in Matthew 12:40 when he said, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

    God used Jonah to take salvation to the Gentiles (the people of Nineveh). This is a “type” of how Christ makes salvation possible for the Gentiles. The Ninevites were going to be saved — God saw to it. That doesn’t mean he violated their “free will.” He made them willing — just like he made Paul willing to suffer for Christ and Mary willing to give birth to Jesus.

    As for your example of Israel’s demand for a king and God granting it. Again, there is a huge prophecy playing itself out that ultimately culminates with Christ occupying the “throne of David.” Where once the Israelites refused to honor God as their king, the church is so committed to Christ (God) as their king that they refuse to pay homage to Caesar at the cost of their very lives. And God was in control of that from beginning to end. He wanted His people to regard Him as their only king and that is exactly what came to pass.

    I agree with you whole-heartedly about people venerating and worshipping the state. I see it in the U.S. in very big ways, even among our churches. But I reject the idea that God is wringing His hands and wishing for people to just give Him a chance. Because the fact of the matter is this: He has the power to change their hearts in a moment.

    This is the very meaning of sovereignty.

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