“No man is an island, entire of himself,” John Donne wrote. That is also true of preaching and preachers and authors. We all “stand on the shoulders” of others, either through our education or the influence of books, articles and now the constant inflow of blogs, Twitter feeds and YouTube.
While I will not claim that I am “standing on the shoulders” of great preachers and thinkers, I have certainly looked over the shoulders of some. In mid-July, following the heightened fervor of the election gaining steam, I became convicted that I needed to speak to the issue. I never have before. In fact, I have intentionally avoided political issues in the past through my preaching and public columns and writing.
I did not feel comfortable continuing with that stance this year. Not for this election. And so began a “crash course” in my listening, conversations and reading. I have tried to listen to an even-handed input of media to gather information about the candidates. I have read and listened to men of God whom I respect and several of whom I personally know as they wrote, spoke and tweeted the issues online.
Among those I heard and read include the great Baptist theologian Carl F. H. Henry, his protégée, Dr. Russell Moore (our current Ethics and Religious Liberty Director for the SBC), Drs. Al Mohler, Jason Allen and Matt Smith who lead some of our flagship educational institutions and Dr. James Garlow, who pastors Skyline Church in California. I have further heard the teachings of Dr. James E White, Dr. David Jeremiah and Dr. Robert Jeffress of Dallas, Texas. Much of my thinking and processing of information was filtered through the input of these individuals… I am confident there are others as well. They have influenced my thinking and my preaching over the past few weeks.
Biblically I have walked again through the Book of Daniel, the Gospels and the Letters of Paul as they spoke to the issues of Christians and authority, how we relate to government and our obligation of Christian citizenship. This has helped to keep my balance through the smoke and chaos of media coverage and political spin machines.
But in all of this it has become enormously apparent to me again that ultimately we must seek God in prayer and earnestness, in repentance on behalf of a nation that has lost its purpose and focus on the Lord our God, and to trust that He will lead His people to do what is right in the election booth.
If we will not we will succumb to one of three fallacies:
- To grow discouraged and apathetic. This sadly has happened to so many of our younger generations, some of whom are able to vote for the very first time. It can be so overwhelming to listen to the cacophony of voices calling to us in this season that we just no longer care… or want to participate.
- To grow outraged and angry. It is easy to be threatened by changes we see on the horizon that are in opposition to our values or to the security of our future as we believe needs to happen. We can lash out in ways that are inappropriate and not Christlike.
- To misplace our hope. We sometimes over-expect of the power of what a political candidate can do or bring to pass, or place inappropriate hope in the success of a political party and forget that only God can bring ultimate security, peace and provision.
- To forget that, on November 9, God will still be in control. He will still be Sovereign, even when the world sometimes seems to be spinning out of control.
If we forget this, we will give in to the twin tormentors of anxiety and fear. God is a great King. Our ultimate loyalty is due Him, not a politician or political process.
And He alone can be depended upon to rule us well.
FOR MEDITATION: God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne. Psalm 47:8
FOR REFLECTION: Where is your hope placed today? The old hymn reminds us, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” To place our hope for the future anywhere else is to build on sinking sand. We must now, more than ever, trust in the Lord who alone is our solid rock.