Monday, November 12, 2012

The Re-election of President Obama and the Future of America.

In my reading of people I respect and conversations with many around me about the election results, I have noted a larger level of disappointment and despair than I've seen in previous elections where a candidate favored by most evangelicals has lost.

Was the election a demonstration that we are no longer the nation of our founders or of the generation that won World War 2?  Cal Thomas thinks that is the case, and says so quite clearly here.  Maybe he is right.

One pastor writes passionately that to vote for President Obama was a wicked act because of his stated desires to continue all forms of abortion and make same sex marriage legal.  Further, he argues that America is not just wicked, but has been made collectively stupid because of our societal sins.  I found his powerful statement here.  Maybe he is right.

Of course, there are Christians, especially among the young, women and minorities if the polls are to be believed, who felt that the President's positions on abortion, same sex marriage, and limits to religious freedom were not reasons to vote against him, and that his four years in office provided enough reason to re-elect him.  Jim Wallis did not endorse the President in this post on religious consistency and hypocrisy in politics, but he gives the framework for those who might have done so by raising numerous issues the Bible addresses (poverty, care for children who are dying around the world due to what are curable diseases, and care for the strangers among us who are undocumented immigrants) in addition to those I've mentioned and saying we must weigh the importance of each and vote accordingly.

I disagree with Mr. Wallis in terms of what seems to be the moral equivalence he strikes. The deaths of 20,000 children around the world daily due to preventable causes is a genuine tragedy.  However, they are not all within the reach (or responsibility) of the American government, and the church is free to act and leads the way in caring for such children to prevent the deaths of many more.  Only the government of our country can prevent the legal murder of unborn infants here.  Therefore, as a moral decision, the abortion issue is more important when it comes to choosing government leaders.

But, I am  not here to rehash the arguments of the election.  I understand the disappointment of those who supported Mr. Romney and cannot believe that our country would, after watching the record of the last four years, re-elect the President Obama for another four years.  I congratulate those whose votes for President Obama overwhelmed all the supposed momentum for his opponent, even though I cannot actually rejoice in your victory.

What I want to say is this: America's future, while unknown to me in its specifics, will be the same as all the kingdoms of this world.  It will ultimately fall, either before the Lord's return or at that time.  The nation will be judged, as all nations will be, for its rejection of God's rule and God's ruler--Jesus Christ.  And it will not only be overthrown, it will be replaced by the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.  Like many nations before us, we have been blessed by God in ways other nations of the same era have not.  And like those blessed nations who have gone before us, from the Babylonians with a humbled, repentant Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4), to Persia with its God-appointed King Cyrus (see Isaiah 45), all the way to spiritually awakened Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, we will forget God's goodness, love our sin and ourselves, and bring decline as well as wrath upon ourselves instead of mercy.  That isn't very encouraging to patriotic Americans, is it?

God makes clear that there is one remedy that a nation can find that turns away his wrath, and it isn't conservatism, or progressivism, or libertarianism, or any other political -ism.  It is repentance.  Repentance can come quickly, and it can work powerfully to change matters.  However, it is a spiritual blessing that is sought by God's people for themselves and their nation.  Many Christians I know are ready to confess the sins of others, but we must confess our own as well, including placing our trust in men, in nations, and in politics.

Let me close with the reminder I shared with the staff the day after the election from 1 Timothy 2:1-4.  Paul tells Christians that our first obligation in corporate prayer is for all people, and then he specifically tells us who rises to the top of that large category--kings (or presidents in our case) and all in high positions.  Do we offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for our leaders?  We should, and when we do it allows us to rest in God's sovereignty and experience "a peaceful and quiet life" and to live in a "godly" way--which means living in the realization that God is always present and active.  We also live "dignified" lives this way--a life that is worthy of looking at with respect.  Exemplary lives are part of God's strategy to see people "saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."  Could fervent prayer for our leaders and repentance within the church be the key turning away wrath and an outpouring of mercy?

Perhaps a great disappointment is necessary to make many of us look at what really matters to us, and whether the troubled state of our nation or the lack of a powerful corporate Christian testimony to those who are perishing is the greater disaster.