November 25, 2022

Knowing that Christ is doing in us what no political party or leader could ever do

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! – Psalm 122:6

As of this morning, Republicans appear to be on track to regain control of the House of Representatives, although the size of their majority is not yet known. Senate control remains to be determined, with several pivotal races too close to call.

As the head of a nonpartisan ministry, I respond to the midterm elections with thoughts that would be the same regardless of which party controls which branch of our government.

“The problems posed by living in a collaborative group”

As a backdrop, consider a New Yorker article stating that “reason has developed not to allow us to solve abstract and logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unknown data; rather, it developed to solve the problems posed by living in a collaborative group. In other words, we tend to make our decisions based on how our group makes theirs. Therefore, while we are acutely aware of the mistakes of others, we are blind to our own.

In addition, we have to rely on the expertise of others for the essentials of life (like the function of toilets, as the article illustrates), so we do the same with our opinions, based on “knowledge” of those with whom we already agree. Other research demonstrates that we experience genuine pleasure—a dopamine rush—when we process information that supports our beliefs.

These facts are directly related to voting in a democracy. Once we have identified our “group”, we tend to vote in a way that advances our group’s agenda. We are much more able to see the shortcomings of candidates from the other group than our own. We are psychologically rewarded when our side wins and the other loses.

And democracy, which depends on the wisdom of voters to elect the leaders most capable of serving the people, is weakened.

“The Father of American Democracy”

In 1638, the Puritan minister, the Reverend Thomas Hooker, delivered a sermon in the Connecticut General Court in favor of popular sovereignty, the right of the people to govern themselves. It was the first time in the colonies that an American had explicitly affirmed such democratic ideas.

He based his sermon on Deuteronomy 1:13, where Moses instructed the people: “Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will set them over you. Hooker’s sermon influenced the creation of Connecticut’s state constitution, the Connecticut Basic Orderswhich was the first constitution of the American colonies.

As a result, he is often described as “the father of American democracy”.

Note his belief that our leaders must be “wise, understanding, and experienced.” This implies that the people who choose them must also be “wise, understanding and experienced” in order to identify the leaders who deserve their support. This is the fundamental challenge of our system of governance: as the French philosopher Joseph de Maistre noted, “In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve.

The fact that we are fallen people explains the decay of our society and our politics. As grateful as I am for those willing to engage in public service, the fact remains that we can only elect sinners like us.

History professor Daniel K. Williams notes, “Political parties do work as very flawed tools for achieving particular ends, but they become horrible idols when we treat them as sources of our moral identity.”

“We have received Christ himself”

David implored us: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! (Psalm 122:6). Note that he did not encourage us to “work” for the peace of Jerusalem, but to “pray” for it. The Hebrew word translated “to pray” could be rendered as “to beg, to plead”. The grammar could be rendered as “to plead and continue to plead”.

“Peace” translates shalom, a very important word in Jewish culture even today. It describes fullness, fullness, health in all dimensions of life. David knew that the source of truth shalom for Israel and for the rest of the world resides in God, not in us. We must come to Him with expectant, urgent, humble, repentant faith.

And when we do, God does what only he can do.

Charles Spurgeon observed, “By an act of faith, Jesus becomes a real person in the consciousness of our heart. … It is true that he gave us life from the dead. He gave us the forgiveness of sin; he has given us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but we are not satisfied with them; we received christ himself(emphasis added).

“Preach first by the way you live”

This is why it is so urgent to share the good news of God’s love. As pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie notes, “God’s primary means of reaching unbelievers is through the verbal articulation of the gospel.” We invite others into a personal and transforming relationship with a personal and transforming God. We can in fact to know Jesus and then make him known. And knowing Him does in us and through us what no political party or leader could ever accomplish.

However, Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584, offered an important caveat: “Make sure you preach first by the way you live. If you don’t, people will notice that you’re saying one thing but living another, and your words will only bring cynical laughter and a mocking nod.

Live the gospel and share the gospel. Know Christ and make him known, and long after yesterday’s elections are forgotten, your faithfulness to your Lord will resound in eternity.

It is God’s promise and invitation.

Release date: November 9, 2022

Photo courtesy: Zbynek Pospisil

The opinions expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.

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