Friday, May 18, 2012

So, This Year Is An Election Year

A “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”  That’s how President Lincoln so eloquently described our government in his famous Gettysburg Address.  That philosophy of government was birthed as a result of men having seen government done wrong.  As a result, these men set out to create a better way of governing people.  In their design, they would make sure that all power would not rest in one man or woman but would be divided up among three different branches of government.  They would go further in their delegation of power by dividing up power between federal and state governments.  It is really a brilliant plan.

Now, before I say anything else lest you think I’m un-American, I don’t know of a better form of government anywhere in the world.  With that being said, think for a moment about Lincoln’s description of our government – “of the people, by the people, for the people.”  While that philosophy of government would seem great when the people are godly and moral, what would that government look like with a people who were immoral and ungodly?  Is that government still a healthy one?

The truth is, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, is only as good as the people who make up that government.  If the people are corrupt, if they lack integrity, and if they are self-consumed, wouldn’t that government prove to be the same?  While we sit back and complain about Washington, isn’t it true that Washington is simply a reflection of a culture that is broken?  Think about it for just a moment.  Think about those who hold elected office, who lack integrity and everyone knows it.  Now, think about how they’ve been re-elected time and time again.  Do they not accurately reflect the views and beliefs of the people who continually vote to keep them in power? 

A couple of days ago, I spoke with a claims agent for an insurance company.  The stories he told me, of the corruption he witnesses everyday with common people who lie, cheat, and sell their souls for a few bucks, made my head spin.  What’s crazy is they justify every bit of it.  A few months ago my mother-in-law got home from the store with an item she noticed was not on her receipt.  When she returned to the store to pay for it the employees were blown away and claimed that they have never had anyone ever do that.  Really?  Nobody has ever come back to pay for something that the cashier failed to ring up?  Shouldn’t that be the norm rather than the exception?
Let’s face it, our culture is sliding in the wrong direction and our government is directly impacted by that slide.  Sixty years ago abortion was not even a debate.  Today we are debating whether or not a baby can be killed while it is in the process of being born.  Really?  Anyone 40 years or older think we would ever be debating same-sex marriage?  Religious freedoms are under fire, freedom of speech is under fire, and our right to own guns is under fire.  All of these issues are not simply debates on Capitol Hill.  They are debates we are having in mainstream America.

While I’ll do my part by taking part in the voting process, I must say I have little confidence in our political system to fix what is broken.  That being said, I don’t approach things as if there is no hope.  What I do have confidence in is the church.  No, it’s not because of the pastors and church leaders, after all I am one of them.   My confidence in the church is because of the One who is the head of the church.  Jesus stands at the helm of the church.  Sure, the church is full of imperfect people who often do the wrong things for the wrong reasons.  Sure, the church often gets caught up focusing on the wrong things.  The church often forges ahead fulfilling its own agenda rather than His.  However, it is to believers to whom Christ declared, “You are salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”  It was the church Christ empowered with His Spirit so that they could impact the world.  It is the church, the Body of Christ that represents Him on this planet.  It is the church that is His hands and feet.  It would appear that Christ, Himself has a lot of confidence in the church.  No, I don’t think it’s because He sees us as all that, at least apart from Him.  However, He has complete confidence in His Spirit that dwells in us.
Regardless of how impotent and inept the church is or has been, whenever the church is taking its directive from Christ, all of that changes.   On the day of Pentecost, Jesus gave birth to the church.  Not a social club, not a political party, and not a religion.  He gave birth to a powerful force, who, empowered by His Spirit, would impact culture not simply copy it or embrace it.  He released on this planet an entity that would reflect God’s love, character, and power.  He created something that would be a force for all that is good and right in a world full of evil.
God’s people are a key to righting what is wrong and fixing what is broken.  God made a promise to His people many years ago that is recorded in II Chronicles 7:14.  “If my people, who are called by my name, will 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.”  Hmm, I’m wondering if the church would take God at His Word, what would happen?

Because I’m an American citizen, come November, I’ll cast my ballot.  If the people I vote for don’t win, I’ll complain a bit like everyone else.  However, my confidence will not be shaken because it isn’t rooted and grounded in a handful of politicians or in a nation of people who vote a certain way. Because I’m a member of the church and I’m one of “His people, called by His name,” in addition to voting, I’m working on humbling myself and praying and seeking His face and turning from my wicked ways.  I just think the latter has much more potential to right our nation.  That’s where my confidence rests.