Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What does the church do now that the election is over?

By a rather sizable electoral majority President Barack Obama has won re-election.  Both sides are now spinning the election results to make their side look better.  The popular vote was much closer than the electoral vote which indicates our nation is a divided nation in many aspects.  Political analysts will have much to say in the coming weeks about what this election means.  There will be much discussion about the need for bipartisan cooperation, but if the past few years are any indication it will be mostly talk and little action.  For reasons I do not understand it seems the American people prefers gridlock over forward progress.  We elect a Democratic president and Senate and a Republican House of Representatives and refuse to hold them accountable to do the work they've supposedly been elected to do.  I can think of very few incumbents in either party that deserved re-election based upon their work in the past.  In any job in the real world they would have been fired for incompetence and lack of effort, but we keep electing these people to office.  House Speaker Tip O-Neal said many years ago that all politics is local.  As long as a person in office can help someone's cousin Fred find a job and fill a few pot holes in the street he or she can remain in office to do whatever they want to do. 

Several of my Facebook friends posted today that while they did not vote for President Obama, he is their president.  They promised to pray for him, support him when they feel he is right, and criticize him when they think he is wrong.  That is their right, and I believe it is the correct thing for any Christian to do.  One of the disturbing things in this election has been the rancor in some of the posts on FB by people of both sides.  Such mean-spiritedness should not be seen in a believer.  It is fine to hold strong opinions and express those opinions, but there is no reason for some of the nasty comments I've read that came from both sides.  Scripture teaches us to respect the position of those who rule over us.  You may not agree with everything that President Obama says or does, but he is the President of the United States and as such deserves the respect that goes with that responsibility.  As a person for whom Jesus Christ gave His life, he also is due the honor and respect that we should extend to all people.  He has a challenging task ahead of him over the next four years, and the future of our nation will be impacted by how well he is able to lead.  He needs and deserves our prayers.

At the same time, we must not forget that our hope is not found in Washington DC.  There are things that the president and Congress can do, but there are many things they cannot do.  We must not look to the government for our salvation.  Quite frankly, the future of our nation is not as much in the hands of the politicians as it is in the hands of the church.  For many years much of the evangelical church ignored the political process as if it was something evil.  In more recent years the church has become more involved in politics, but it has come dangerously close to believing that government will solve our problems.  Some Christians go into a panic if their candidates are not elected to office apparently certain that Armageddon is just around the corner.

The church must not forget 2 Chronicles 7:14 - "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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  God is not saying that a nation's healing comes from it's political leaders.  The healing of America is not dependent upon the Democrats, the Republicans, or the Independents.  It's not dependent upon Supreme Court rulings or whether or not Congress passes certain laws.  It's not dependent on what the ACLU, the national media, Wall Street. or any foreign government does.  The healing of a nation is dependent upon what God's people does.  Specifically, God calls His people, the church, to repentance and prayer.

The church has much to repent from.  We have grown lazy in our efforts to reach people with the Gospel.  The fact that Christians from other countries feel called to come to America and spread the Gospel should make the church in America ashamed of its failure to evangelize our own people.  We have been willing to compromise the truth of Scripture for the sake of harmony and pluralism.  The church too often fails to extend grace to those both within and outside the body of Christ.  We still shoot our wounded, ignore our youth, beat up the ones who have been called to pastoral leadership, and rob God of our tithes and offerings.  We build monuments to our leaders and ignore the homeless, the hungry, and the poor.  We have forsaken the widows and children and sent them to the government for assistance and then wonder why they worship at the altar of Washington rather than God.  We "love everybody" as long as they look like us, talk like us, dress like us, and believe like us.  Too many of us talk about prayer more than we pray, sing more than we worship, and take more than we give.  Too many of our churches and denominations are more in competition with each other than they are with the demons of hell.  I don't know how you feel right now, but I wrote these words and find much that I need to repent from.

Such prayer of repentance will not be easy.  That's why the writer said that we first had to humble ourselves and then pray.  One church recently had a worship service where they invited a number of previous pastors back for a time of confession and restoration.  They acknowledged they had not treated many of their former pastors very well and asked them to return to ask for their forgiveness.  They made a public pronouncement of their former attitudes of pride and arrogance not only in their worship service but in advertisements they took out in the local paper. They asked the community to forgive them as well.  Following the worship service when the church asked their previous pastors for forgiveness the local paper reported it on the front page.  That required a great deal of humility on the part of this congregation, and it is the kind of humility that the church as a whole must show if it is adequately repent of its sins and seek God's healing of our land.

We must not believe that God is finished with America or that our nation cannot be restored, but we must not look for any outside agency to make that happen.  Such restoration can only be brought about by God and will only happen if God's people become serious about repenting of its sins and seeking God's face once again.

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