Over half of voting Americans are pleased to see Barack Obama continue for a second term while just under 50% are wondering how voters could reelect him after such a dismal record of broken promises. As believers, we ask--Is God guiding us, punishing us, or reminding us again of what truly counts in the Kingdom of God. After all, at this time of the year, when we celebrate the birth of Christ when God chose to lower himself into our playpen that by His grace we might join the family of God, we wonder what God is doing to this country we love.
I wonder if the disciples and believers at the time of Christ were asking, "Why does God allow Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus to remain in power?" While certainly some in his midst wanted him to be the Messiah who would end Roman rule, Jesus kept telling believers of an unsettling truth about the Kingdom of God.
When facing near certain death on the cross, Jesus calmly reminded Pontius Pilot that his kingdom was different. He said with power, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36)
As much as I love my country and work to communicate conservative principles in column after column, I realize that as a Christian I have dual citizenship. I'm a proud American and a grace-blessed Christian in the Kingdom of God. And as a Christian, since I remain a work in progress, I look to the Bible to help me handle the political realities we all have to face.
Jesus challenged us to trust in his care and to focus on priorities that count: “Your heavenly father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:33-34)
Yes, Lord, one day at a time we search for His will. Paul reminds Christians in Philippi of something we must also claim: "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:12-13)
With struggle comes strength, and, in the kingdom that counts, the timing of God's plan is not always to our liking. We wonder how God can be so wrong! Doesn't He not know that America's future is at stake? Couldn't he read my columns and understand how important this election was for generations to come?
C.S. Lewis talked about pain as a megaphone in the hands of a loving God. Pain, disappointments, loss--all remind us of the limitations of our control and our need for God. Whenever I wonder about God's wisdom, I'm reminded of Peter's stirring reminder to fellow Christians: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Humility! Shouldn't we assertively fight for liberty, free enterprise, and the American way? Or are we to claim a strong assurance and confidence that comes from knowing that we are grounded in something bigger--we have the "precious pearl" of faith. After all, Biblical humility is not a call for weakness or passive acceptance. The humility called for in Scripture seems much more a strength with gentleness that comes with trusting that ultimately God is in control.
But as Christians, we also affirm that God uses our gifts and our time to shape and work His will on earth. We are called to do our best to discern that will and work to impact others. As St. Ignatius reportedly said, “Act as if everything depends on you. And pray as if everything depends on God.”
So with an humble appreciation of my understanding and my place, I continue to praise God and work for values and principles that I feel God calls me to support. For if it be the will of God, I pray for wisdom and positive change. For I know that just because God delays, does not mean he denies. As Paul writes in Colossians 4:2: "Don't be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God's answers and remember to be thankful when they come."
America has had tough times before. Christians and the people of God have had quite a soap opera through the centuries, but God has been faithful. So along with the Psalmist, we must find joy in every day with the Lord, no matter who is in office in Washington: "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118: 24)
For as Chuck Swindol has said, “Joy is the flag that flies above the castle of their hearts, announcing that the King is in residence.” So as we come to the end of the year, I claim the joy of this Christmas season and I look forward to a New Year in the Kingdom of God. For even though President Obama is in the White House, the King of Kings is in the residence that counts. So, as believers, even when we don't know what God is doing, we are blessed to be His and to know that His will must be worked out with or without our votes or our approval.