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God’s Kingdom: The Concession Prize?

I wrote this piece after the most recent Presidential election. At the time I was raked over the coals by some, but the current climate in Washington and the absolutely pitiful, hateful, unloving, disrespectful, and quite frankly ill-informed political opinions (on all sides) have demonstrated that I was on to something. In short, Christians have traded their birthright of the Kingdom for a bowl of political porridge.
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You’ve heard, “Actions speak louder than words.” I’m sure the old axiom is true. We are defined by what we do more than by what we say.  That said, our words and language have the pesky ability to reveal our hearts in ways little else does.

Jesus said, “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” He meant that what is in us will come out of us. The human heart has an exhaust pipe – our mouths.

That’s why I have been so disconcerted this past week by the way my Christian friends have expressed their disappointment in the outcome of the Presidential election. Our heart-revealing language has found us both sinful and idolatrous.

 

On the sinful spectrum, I’ve seen Christians refer to President Obama as a “nigger” – one of which is a former student from one of my youth groups. When called on the carpet by another one of “my kids,” he quickly removed his Facebook status. He apologized and expressed his disappointment by other means – but the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.

Worse -and more important- than the racial slurs have been the myriad Christians now extolling fellow believers to “Trust in the Lord.” Believe me, I’m all for trusting God. It’s this trust in God that leads me to distance myself from American politics.

It seems like trusting God — for some of us, at least — becomes a viable option only after our candidate loses.

Oddly, some of the same people now extolling the trustworthiness of God’s rule were urging us to “vote our values” a few weeks ago and prophesying the apocalypse if we didn’t. It’s odd because they don’t really want us to “vote our values.” They want us to vote their values.  The rule and reign of God shouldn’t serve as a concession prize when the country doesn’t select the candidate we hoped it would select.

I’m neither naive nor partisan. I know that had the Electoral College swung away from President Obama, my friends on the Christian left would have lamented the plight of the poor and disenfranchised, complained about the marginalized and oppressed, but finally comforted themselves with the sovereignty of God.

This isn’t about politics. It’s about idolatry. This is about the evermore obvious ideology of more and more Christians that assume politics and the Kingdom of God are the same thing (which happens on both the left and right).

The post-election eruption of utterances urging a newfound trust in God is perplexing. It’s enough to give the distinct impression that the will of God had somehow become warehoused in one or the other political party and we needed to elect that warehouse’s gate-keepers in order to access it.

It reminded me of my college days. Every now and then a student would leave our Christian university to continue their education at a “state school” or worse, take some time off. Each time, friends whispered and worried about their “spiritual life” as if God could only be accessed at Abilene Christian University.  To leave “the hill” meant endangering your soul.

When — after losing an election  —  Christians, who are supportive of the losing party, respond with sentiments like, “Trust in the Lord,” an independent observer might ask, “Who were you trusting before?” Why does it require unwelcome results at the ballot box to ignite our passion to be governed by God?

No where in Christian social media did I see anyone express the sentiments of Daniel 5:21: “The Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes.” At no time did I hear us echo the sentiments of Psalm 20.7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses (governmental strength), but we trust in the name of the Lord of the LORD our God.”

Thankfully and ultimately, many of us got to this lofty theological position….

After CNN called Ohio.

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  • You really hit the nail on the head with a sledgehammer this time. I was really disgusted with the way so many Christians, who were disappointed with the results of the election, reacted. As you say, it really reveals their heart. It’s a heart of idolatry, plain and simple.

  • thank you, convicting

  • Corey

    Have shared on Twitter and Facebook. A badly needed, damning, humbling observation. Just one of many reasons I’m pursuing David Lipscomb’s heritage of conscientious nonparticipation (or Christian anarchy, in some modern lingo). Politics inherently divides the Church against itself. I don’t judge those who participate, but I certainly feel it easier to cry for God’s grace on both winners and losers if I have a stake in neither. Thanks for some great thoughts!

    • Corey, I wrote this as much for me as anyone else. I’m non-partisan, but not apolitical. I care, but caring, when it comes to politics, can easily become caring too much.

  • Luke Dockery

    To be fair, some (certainly not all, or even most) of the Christians who I read/heard saying “Trust in the Lord” after the election had also been saying the same thing in the days and months before it.

    But you are absolutely right: it is sad that for so many, it took the defeat of “their” candidate to remind them of something that had been true all along.

  • Andy Wall

    Thank you Sean. A wise and timely repost for us following the government shutdown, the health-care debates, and the generally abysmal state of public discourse in the U.S. these days, particularly by Christians.

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