This is New Year?s Eve, a time to reflect back on the year ending?which I?m sure most Christians do with great gratitude. Many of us believe that God was with us in providing political leadership that will continue to support causes we believe so deeply in. And God has seen us through a year of war and international turmoil, a year in which we were spared further terrorist attacks.
But New Year?s Eve is also the occasion for looking ahead and making resolutions?resolutions that most of us never keep.
Well, I will make mine, and I?m going to do my best to stick with them. I see the new year as a time of great hopefulness. Though we?ll face a major contest getting the Federal Marriage Amendment through the Senate, our cause has been strengthened greatly by having a president who is committed to fight for it and by the referenda in eleven states in which the people spoke so clearly. We also have more pro-life members of the House and Senate. We won?t win all of our battles, but we?re likely to make progress in a number of areas.
We also, however, face a sobering question. Evangelicals have come back into the limelight. Talking heads are commenting on the increasing power of ?values voters? and conservative Christians. And to listen to some Christians, one gets the idea that this is the time for our political payback.
So the question is this: Can we handle success and increased influence with grace and prudence?
The sad fact is that all Christians are susceptible to worldly wiles. In fact, sad to say, the Church has managed to shoot itself in the foot almost every time it has achieved power in society.
So what we need most right now is a bracing dose of humility. We?re not a labor union, lining up for our share of the spoils after the election. We are the Church. Our job is to bring biblical truth to bear in society; to win people to Christ; and to promote righteousness and justice. We serve the King of kings, no mere temporal king.
The Apostle Peter tells us always to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us, but with gentleness and reverence. And we are to keep a clear conscience so that when people slander us, they may become ?ashamed of their slander.? Though we are commanded to engage in the political process, we are to do so lovingly, as citizens concerned for the common good. Trying to do that is my first resolution.
The second one is to reread Francis Schaeffer?s classic The Mark of the Christian. In this book, the great intellectual makes a simple point: Without love, we can?t possibly affect the world around us. Our task in the year ahead is to love one another, love fellow citizens, and promote the common good, whether by reaching out to the lost in the prisons, fighting international sexual trafficking, or helping AIDS victims in
I pray that 2005 will be a year when we confound human wisdom, when we handle our increased power and influence with gentleness and reverence, and when people who are ugly toward us are won over because they see our good behavior?not a bad set of New Year?s resolutions.
And, oh yes: Have a wonderfully blessed 2005.
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BreakPoint Commentary No. 041108, ?It?s Not Payback Time: Christians and Politics as Unusual.?
BreakPoint Commentary No. 041103, ?Now That We?ve Voted: Elections and the Kingdom of God.?
Charles Colson with Anne Morse, ?Reclaiming Occupied Territory,? Christianity Today,
Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian (InterVarsity, 1984 edition).
Alan Hertzke, Freeing God?s Children (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004).
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