Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2006
As I write this article, the United States is once again in the heat of an election season, and a very critical one. The air is filled with debate, charges and counter-charges, most of them partisan and self-serving. How should we respond in this time and how should we approach the issues?
It is easy to get caught up in someone else’s agenda and forget the fact that we are called to the agenda and methods of our Lord Jesus. Having been partisan myself at times, I understand the temptation.
What does it mean to be partisan? It is simply committing to one party’s agenda to the neglect of an objective view. What does it mean to be prophetic? It is the ability to represent the voice of God. While we may support a particular party due to its candidates or platform, the prophetic motive responds to a higher purpose and more noble approach. The prophetic purpose is not “down and dirty.” It is speaking the truth in love.
Paul Harvey has been for many years a noted newscaster and commentator. I am 69 years old and remember listening to him when I was in my mid-teens. One of his broadcasts is called, “The Rest of the Story.” In 1996, on that program, he featured a prayer given by Rev. Joe Wright, before the Kansas State Senate. Wright pastors Central Christian Church in Wichita. Here is the prayer:
Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it a choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justified. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!
Some walked out during the prayer, but Central Christian received 5,000 phone calls, and all but 47 were positive. Paul Harvey’s program received his largest response ever. In my view, Pastor Wright was prophetic; he prayed from a righteous perspective, and addressed the moral issues of our time.
I have voted a certain way since my first opportunity to vote. My vote is based upon pro-life, pro-family, pro-security, and pro-economic stewardship viewpoints. I have sometimes been disappointed, but my standard is moral, not partisan.
While I may advocate a particular candidate or party, I do not use the pulpit for partisan purpose and I try not to attack those who differ with me. I seek to focus on Christ’s Kingdom in our lives versus advocating the idea that a political party will solve our problems.
The word theocracy is not a bad one, though it is often used in a bad way. It is simply government by God. That would be a good thing. The problem is, whose God would it be? The primary theocratic example set before us today is Iran. The Islamic revolution was “theocratic” and it displaced a secular government. Neither Iran nor the world has benefited from that move. Why? The answer is because the “god” that they follow supports oppression, fear, and terrorism. I believe that even many Muslims would question that they are in fact representatives of God. If the Iranian leaders had their way, the entire world would be ruled in the same manner.
Old Testament Israel was also a theocracy, ruled by God through Moses, judges, and later, kings. The foundation for that rule was the law of God: Love and honor God, family, and neighbors. The law was given to govern lives for two primary reasons: Man’s tendency to sin and Israel’s immaturity (See Galatians). The law was to function in a similar way to parents, teaching right and wrong, and punishing offenders.
However, the Old Covenant presents God as good and merciful, not belligerent and harsh. His motive is redemption. This is very different from the example of “theocracy” that we witness today. Jeremiah 31:31 makes it clear that God’s ultimate purpose is to write His law in our hearts. In other words, His Kingdom will be internal and not external; it gets into us.
Some secularists in America accuse Christians of wanting a theocracy. They point to fundamental Islamists and compare us to them. But they would first need to compare Jesus Christ to terrorists. There is no comparison. Furthermore, the Lord said that His Kingdom was not of the world. In Christ’s Kingdom, we are all kings and priests. He reigns by love, not law.
Democracy is government by and for the people. It is bottom up. The structure of the government of the United States is more properly understood as a republic. That is, we select leaders who govern by constitutional law. The strength of a republic is its people. The weakness is also its people. In other words, a democracy or a republic is no better than the people it produces.
Ezekiel 22 reminds us that leaders come from among the people – in any system. In the example that Ezekiel uses, the people, the prophets, the princes and the priests were corrupt and self-serving. The nation fell. The best strategy for any culture is to produce high-quality off-spring. Changing governments without changing people will prove futile.
Ours is a nation moving more and more toward popular public opinion, which is all too often formed by secularism and hedonistic entertainment. In addition, we are becoming diverse and, pluralistic, equating all kinds of moral notions and religions. We seem to have less and less in common and needing more and more laws to bind us together.
Some struggle to remind us of our heritage and call us back to a healthier time of God-fearing and family health. But happy days are not here again. Has the Church failed? Should we go quietly into the night? Can we function in the twenty-first century environment? Let me remind you that our environment is far less hostile than the one our Lord faced, the early Church faced, or is faced by most of our brothers and sisters around the world today. We cannot regain the past; we should not fear the future. We should seek the One who “rules in the affairs of men” and represent Him to our world.
The Church is the body of Christ; as such, we must take a fresh look at His victory and the victory of the early Church. It was prophetic, it could not be merely partisan or depend upon a political salvation.
Whatever political side one may choose, some Christians will be on the other side. Thus our efforts are often divided, confused, and neutralized. Emotions will run high and rhetoric will be often extreme. We must rise above this.
There are some things that we can do to be light and salt in our culture (see Matthew 5:13-16):
• Pray for your leaders and the elections this autumn.
• Trust God in all things. He knows the end from the beginning (see Romans 8:31-37).
• Let your life be an influence; demonstrate your faith.
• Be informed theologically, biblically, and on current events.
• Learn how to articulate what you believe and do it with grace.
• Seek God as to how to vote-and vote!
• Bear in mind that our leaders will reflect the people that we produce on a daily basis-not a lot better or a lot worse.
• Pray for those who are giving their lives for our freedom.
I hope that you are involved in maintaining freedom that God has given to us, and in affecting the nation. It is a divinely given privilege. But in it all, know the difference between a partisan agenda and God’s prophetic purpose – commit to the latter. Don’t allow partisanship to divide the body of Christ and keep the spiritual issues in focus.
In closing, I do pray, God bless America, and may He be exalted among all the nations … and God bless you!
Scripture Reference: Galatians; Jeremiah 31:31; Ezekiel 22; Matthew 5:13-16; Romans 8:31-37
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.