If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land. -- 2Chronicles 7: 14 (ESV)
This morning brought another opportunity for Christians to play the role of Chicken Little and cry the sky is falling. Another sure sign that the apocalypse is upon us. Another chance to show how little faith we have in the God we serve over the politics we have sold out for. Donald Trump secured the nomination for the Republican candidacy for President of the United States. When presented with 17 options including accomplished Governors, Senators, and experienced professional politicians, the people chose a reality television host. The criticisms of Trump have all been fair and honest. He has maligned entire genders, races and religions. He has offered sophomoric sound bites instead of actual plans for what should happen if he actually were to win. What does this say about the state of our politics from a secular perspective should be chillingly obvious. The people would rather have a candidate who built their campaign upon xenophobia, division and vulgarity than anyone from the current political class. That is how little faith they have in our current system. Anyone who has marginally followed politics can hardly blame them. But here is the thing beloved. Donald Trump also won a majority of the Evangelical vote.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Because the church still does not seem to get it. God is speaking loudly to us and we still do not get it. I read an article today from Dr. Michael Brown declaring that the impending Hillary versus Trump election is God's judgment upon America. Dr. Brown still does not get it. This is what happens when you prop up the country we live in as an idol. In the movie, The American President, Michael Douglass (who played the president) gives a speech where he says that politicians are not in the least bit interested in solving your problem. They are interested in two things -- making you afraid of it and telling you who is to blame for it. That is how you win elections. Truer words in celluloid have never been spoken. This is what we see this morning from the Christian landscape. Fear mongering and blame mongering. The fear is that either Hillary or Donald will be our next president. Gasp! Hold on a second let me check something with God"
Yep, He says He is still on the throne. Do we even vaguely understand this concept anymore? What kind of God do we think we serve? When we attend watered down churches, following purpose driven pablum, and preaching a sugar coated gospel; is it any wonder we have no faith in God? When God is lowered to be our buddy and wingman, is it any wonder we are afraid of secular elections? When the Bible is turned into a self-help book for how to make this temporal life more comfortable, is it any wonder we simply forget that God is eternal and sovereign? That leaders and rulers are only in power because He says so?
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. -- Romans 13: 1 (ESV)
The blame side of this is even worse. As Dr. Brown brilliantly illustrates, Christians think this result is some form of judgment upon the sinful society. A lightning bolt from the heavens for bathroom bills and bakers forced to bake a cake. What utter nonsense. It is akin to blaming God when a hurricane devastates a region. Once again this is the myopia that results when you refuse to look at yourself. Beloved I do think there is a message from God involved in the impending choice in this election. That message is very simple and is twofold. The church needs to stop looking to man to solve their problems and they need to stop lying in bed with the world.
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. -- Psalm 146:3-4 (ESV)
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. -- James 4: 4 (ESV)
Trust in princes is what the church today specializes in. Every election year we hear the same rhetoric. This is the most important election in history. Our vote will be held against us by God. We need to figure out who is closest biblically. All covert messaging to make a carnal decision. That is all voting is beloved. A carnal decision about who is best to lead Sodom for the next four years. Neither party cares about the cause of Jesus Christ. At best it is always the lesser of two evils and while that might be an acceptable plan when approaching your vote, far too often the lesser brand is lofted up as a paragon of virtue it does not possess. That is because we quickly forget that the lesser of two evils is still evil. So I think God has been trying to get our attention to focus back on Him instead of hoping for some secular deliverance of Christian values foisted upon a public who views the things of God as utter foolishness. So in 2012 He set out to give us an impossible choice. He pitted an extremely liberal Christian against a member of a satanic cult. This should have been a choice that made Christians realize their folly. Surely the church would not be found pitching their tents toward Sodom by actually defending and advocating for one of these choices? Yet they did. Suddenly Mormonism wasn't that bad. Even Billy Graham took it off of his cults list. Never mind that Mormons believe Jesus and Lucifer were bothers. Never mind that they believe God is just one of many gods. Never mind that the Mormon gospel was created by an American just a few centuries ago. That Joseph Smith claims and angel gave him this new gospel while walking in the woods in upstate New York. Hmm"what does the Bible say about that again?
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again; If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. -- Galatians 1: 8-9 (ESV)
Yet there was the church defending their political party instead of their King. Choosing to prop up the Mormon candidate as "God's choice." I am sure our lunacy must never cease to amaze God. So how was God going to top that? If Mitt Romney was not enough to get the church to stop looking to man, who would be? Enter Donald J. Trump. The thrice married billionaire has made comment after comment that should make any Christian blush if not cringe in horror. On the other side is Hillary Clinton. Despised by the Evangelical right for decades now. While more conservative than the current president on foreign affairs and finances, just as liberal on social issues. What is a Christian to do? How about we go back to the Word of God and remember to place no trust in the princes' or princesses' of this world? I can assure you whatever secular problem you are most concerned about neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump care one blip about solving it. They care about two things. Making you afraid of it and telling you who is to blame for it. What God is saying to His people is stop looking to man! He is God all by Himself! He will accomplish His will in His time, according to His plan. There is nothing Hillary, Donald, Barack, or any other human being can do about it! The surety of God's love and sovereignty should be a source of solace and a refuge of peace that the world does not have. I understand why they are panicking beloved but why in the world are we? Is God still not capable of being God? How little do we think of Him? It is like when I hear Christians lament that God has been "kicked out of the schools." What ridiculousness is that! Is God standing outside the gates of the school being held out by security? It is bad enough we recreate God in our own image but do we have to give Him all of the weakest traits too? I guarantee you this beloved. When the sun rose today God was not surprised by the election results in Indiana. He already knows who will win in November. And in the year 2020. And every election from now until He chooses to come back. We ought to hide in this peace today. Take shade in it. I saw one Christian ask what we should do now that Trump has won. My answer is simple. Preach the Gospel. It is the only thing God has commissioned us to do. Let God be God and let man be man. So the first message today from God is to stop looking to man.
I believe there is a second message however for the church. The James verse explicitly teaches us that friendship with the world is hatred towards God. There are no ways around this truth. While it is true that we have seen society devolve morally over the past several decades the church is wrong for blaming the world alone. The church is just as much to blame. Not for any political reason but because we stopped being the church. If you read the second chapter of Acts you will see that God had a plan for the church. We were to concentrate on Him and His Word and He would add to our number as He saw fit. I find it not coincidental at all that we see a direct correlation between the decline in the morality of societal mores and the movement of the church away from the Gospel and towards the world. The groundwork was laid in the seventies and eighties but by the 1990s we saw corruption in the church explode. The Bakker and Swaggart scandals were only the most highly publicized. Somewhere along the line the church went from being the body of Christ to being a business. The pastor went from being a shepherd to being a CEO. One mega church pastor today even preaches that we ought to not even use the word shepherd anymore. The purpose driven schemes of church growth turned the unsaved into the unchurched. It removed the crosses from the sanctuary and Calvary from the pulpits. Instead of going to church to hear about Jesus Christ, people here about their own temporal fleeting existence. Instead of bowing down in reverent worship, they are entertained with a rock concert with club lighting and smoke machines. Instead of seriously contemplating one's sins they are asked to mimic a ten word faux prayer and then welcomed to the family of God. None of this is biblical however and the result is the majority of people who attend church every single week are actually not saved at all. This is why they panic so easily when something like Hillary versus Trump arises.
The elephant in the room of course is that the church has shifted the biblical focus. Instead of preaching the Gospel and focusing on the spiritual growth of the sheep, the CEO pastor-dude focuses on the lost at the expense of the sheep. We have all heard it from nearly every church. The whole nonsense about not being a museum for saints but a triage for sinners sounds good to our flesh but it is not supported biblically. Beloved, the church was meant for the saints not the sinners. Sure we want the unsaved to come to church but that is because the Gospel is supposed to be proclaimed there and it is only through hearing the Gospel that anyone gets saved:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. -- Romans 1: 16 (ESV)