So on election day there were at least 56 different pictures on Facebook of soldiers with a caption along the lines of, "Don't forget to vote. They died so you could." Actually, not just soldiers, but pictures of suffragettes and others as well. People for whom expressing their opinion and knowing that they could have an impact on the leadership and direction of our country was so important that they were willing to be mocked, to be beaten, to be tortured, and finally to be killed. Their blood and sweat, their tears and agony, all given willingly so that you could step up to a flimsy plastic desk, surrounded on three sides by cardboard, and color in some ovals to indicate your choice for President, Senator, Representative, Governor, or Judge.
I've heard many comments today about the poor quality of the candidates available. I've been frustrated myself to see some seats where only one candidate was available to select from. What if that one candidate is unacceptable? I wonder how those who suffered so that we could vote would feel about us saying, "It doesn't really matter - it's the lesser of two evils." I wonder what they would think of the fact that so few intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable, and sensible candidates make it on to the ballot.
If there are only two evils available on the ballot, who do we have to blame but ourselves? I know personally, aside from voting in the primaries, I've done nothing to promote and help the candidates who I truly believed in early on in this contest. Would there be a better choice on the ballot if I had helped support another candidate?
How does this relate to our Christian faith? The obvious common thread is that Christ suffered and died for us and we ought to live our lives in a manner worthy of His sacrifice. But let's go beyond the basics of salvation and sanctification. For those of us who are citizens of the United States of America, God has gifted us with a unique privilege historically. A brief study of our history makes it clear that this nation could not have emerged without Divine providence - a fact witnessed to by most of the founding fathers. Although the freedoms we enjoy today were not achieved for many until fairly recent decades, today all citizens have the right to vote unless they have abdicated the right through commission of a felony. God has placed you and I (fellow citizen) in a time and place where we have an unparalleled authority to determine the direction and priorities of our government.
Working together, we CAN undo the mess that our government is currently in. A mess that is not the fault of any one party, but of an ideology found on both sides of the aisle. An ideology that says, "What's in it for me?" John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." But Americans have been either too busy asking for handouts or too wrapped up in their own personal challenges to consider this question for the past fifty years.
What can I do for my country? I can pray for my country. It's been said, "Once I've prayed, I can do anything, but until I've prayed, I can do nothing." Nothing has the power to impact this country more than prayer. Second Chronicles 7:14 states emphatically, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Notice that this verse also informs us that there is a prerequisite to prayer: Humble ourselves. We cannot pray until we recognize our NEED to pray. We can't see our need while we are thumping our chest and bragging of being the greatest nation on earth. We must recognize that we are who we are, as a person, as a church, and as a nation, only by the grace of Almighty God. If the current quandary doesn't move us to humility, I'm not sure what will.
The next two actions we can take are also spelled out in this verse, "seek His face and turn from their wicked ways." When the Bible speaks of seeking God's face, it is significant that we are to seek His face and not His hand. This is not about looking for a hand out. This isn't about asking God to bless our wayward, self-centered, 'all-about-me' behavior. It is about seeking His approval by turning from the things that we know displease Him. Wonder what those things are? He left instructions in the Bible.
If we all did these simple things - what a huge impact it would have! But let's go even beyond that. Let's assume that as believers, we are humbling ourselves, we are praying and seeking to honor God with our words, thoughts and actions. What next?
Stay tuned...I'll have some concrete suggestions tomorrow. :-)