Friday, October 19, 2018

Politics and Fear

Surely the principles of Christianity lead to action as well as meditation.
~William Wilberforce
I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien

I just began reading a fascinating book (Ship of Fools) written by political commentator Tucker Carlson. For a long time I've enjoyed Carlson's insight and wisdom, even though I don't believe that he is a professing Christian. Almost all of my life, I've been interested in politics. I come from a "voting" family who believes that we can make a difference through allowing our voice to be heard. In fact, I believe that the silence of many Christians on political matters has contributed in part to the moral demise of this country. Christians have always had a purifying influence on peoples and nations. The Methodist movement is a powerful example of this fact as the healing of men and women through conversion and repentance produced markedly less crime in England during the time of the First Great Awakening. As believers also took their relationship with God more seriously and allowed this relationship to impact their actions, men like William Wilberforce emerged and impacted the entire system of social justice in a positive and effective manner in his country. But not without becoming politically involved, of course. 
As a Christian who believes strongly that this world is not my final resting place and that my citizenship is ultimately not in a particular country but in Heaven with the Lord Jesus, there has always been a struggle within me. I wonder how politically involved it is "right" for a Christian to be, how caught up with whatever is going on in politics my mind should become, how I should pray for this country at a critical moral time in her history when all values and conscience seem to be slipping away and fading fast even from what they used to be 20 years ago. America is certainly on a downward spiral and drowning fast, though she does not even realize the danger. 
Progressivism and liberalism have nearly taken over our schools, the media, our homes, and is even seeking to slither its way into our thought lives through social media and other seemingly harmless means. It is frightening to me, truly. Big Brother is lurking--but our Father in Heaven is stronger; this is the only thing that anchors me.  
We live in frightening, bewildering times. 
It is easy to lose hope. 
It is easy to give in to worry and fear. 
When I lived in New England, I basically had no voice politically. The tiny, liberal state in which I lived always went in a far-left direction. My conservative values were lost in the sea of the voices of shouting liberals--but I voted anyway, believing that it was my spiritual duty to raise my voice even if it was barely heard in the final statistical analysis. The Lord would honor my effort to vote according to His truth and righteousness, even if it was disregarded in the state in which I lived. This is life; this is the healthy political process. Vote and accept the outcome. Honor God. 
But now I live in the Midwest in a state where elections are critical. I finally feel that I have a voice, that my vote may actually do something. Everything has become more important. Encouraging other Christians to vote their conscience and God's Word have become more important. Prayer toward this end has become vital in terms of house, senatorial, and governmental elections. 
As believers we truly do not realize the impact our words and our actions may have on those around us and how they may change the course of history at any given time. William Wilberforce saw this in his life and I would strongly encourage anyone who has not read about this prayerful, humble man to read about his life or to watch the film based upon his life, Amazing Grace. Wilberforce is a beautiful testimony of a man who was heavily involved in politics and who used his position to bring glory to God and literal deliverance to the captives. 

What are some of the issues that we are facing in our day?
We have largely placed the subject of abortion on the back burner, but it is one that could potentially be reversed in this country. Probably not, but do we even pray toward that end consistently? Or have we just accepted the evil of it, thinking that nothing could possibly change to make things right? 
We have a voice. 
We still have a voice. 
Lately, I've been noticing a lot of Christians downplaying our involvement in politics and even subtly discouraging it. These believers emphasize the fact that our citizenship is in Heaven and that there is very little that we can do to change things at this point in our country. We should just pray "generally" and move on in the other facets of our lives. 
I feel like we are hobbits living in our happy little sphere while the world burns around us and is taken over by dark, insidious forces. The poignant line from J.R.R. Tolkien's masterful trilogy comes through like a knife--"Will you do nothing?"
I have felt afraid lately, with a fear that is not entirely from the Lord but also with one that drives me to contemplate deeper issues. I feel afraid of the direction that this country is taking. I feel afraid of the loud, mob-like voices of the left wing that have passed the point of reason and discussion and logic. I feel afraid of a ruling class that wants to control every aspect of our lives in a God-like fashion. These things strike fear in my heart. 
These are the things that I need to surrender to the Lord. Ultimately, the outcome of these important midterm elections are in His hands, not mine, and there is nothing that I can ultimately do but to pray and to trust Him for the result. Things must eventually get worse before the Lord comes. I was reminded of this Corrie Ten Boom quote this past week that really spoke to me in my fear--
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
Fear of the future is not from God--He is always to be trusted even in the most dire of circumstances. And His kingdom will prevail against the hosts of evil that try without success to break it down. Our God is a mighty fortress. There is great, lasting, true strength and hope in that knowledge. 
But the other fear that I have felt is actually the one that I believe is legitimate and that should motivate me to action. I know that I must ultimately also surrender this fear to the Lord, but I pray that it will not drive me to silence, but to action, as it should. I feel afraid of the apathy of Christians in this time. I feel like we have grown intimidated, that we have softened our stance in order to become more "like-able," and not become labeled as harsh; we're afraid for this reason of speaking the truth even when we are speaking it in a loving fashion. 
My husband often quips that "fear is a marvelous motivator." We think of fear as a purely bad thing, but sometimes it can be a motivator to action. When fear brings us to the hand grip of trust, then it is a helper to grace. 
I am afraid for believers today. I am afraid of what my children may face in the future. I am afraid of the silence, of the lack of involvement, in the ambivalence and the distraction away from the things that really matter in favor of trivial things. I am afraid of my own apathy at times, of my own reluctance to speak out in love against wrong. 
II Kings 13:15-19 gives an intriguing account of what God might have done in response to a more enthusiastic display of trust in a saving, acting God --I believe that it is a lesson for me, for each of us in terms of persevering prayer and of holding on to God until He blesses us--
And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.”
We are often weak in our prayers. We give up too easily or attribute everything that happens as the "will of God" when perhaps He would have answered our petitions if we had pressed them further and not given up. Is God's answer, His working dependent upon us? Absolutely not. But He is a God who hears and answers prayer and who acts on behalf of persistent and trusting petitions. 
Truly, God has not given us a spirit of fear (II Timothy 1:7 ) and so I must take my fears to the throne of grace and allow them to be replaced with love, power, and a sound mind.  
And a spirit of love, power and a sound mind should lead to prayerful action, should lead to peace and trust in a loving Father, should lead to hope in His perfect plan for the future--of mine and of my children's. We embrace that hope by faith. 
When I began writing my blog some years ago I made a kind of "promise" to the Lord that I would never hold back truth so that people would "like" me. That would be the death knell of my soul and God forbid that I write what tickles people's ears or that I hold back truth because, in the words of Amy Carmichael, I am afraid to "lose affection." 
I have lost "likes" on my blog Facebook page because of this stance. I have had other bloggers rebuke me. But I have become even more convinced through these occurrences that I am accountable to the Lord above all else and that if to please Him means losing "likes," or friends, or anything else, then that is worth it. I embrace the words of Pastor Charles Stanley here--a man who has suffered rejection and loss and even humiliation as the result of standing firm on the Word of God and not compromising-- to "obey God and to leave the consequences to Him." It is not worth it to gain the world and to lose one's soul. We obey and the end result is in God's hands. 
We have a choice, dear friends. We can sit back and swim as the proverbial frog in the water that is boiling or we can use these times that we are in to move forward by faith. The Lord does not call everyone to serve in political positions or to be heavily involved in politics, but He does call us to use our voice when we can. Perhaps, like Esther, He has placed us in positions of influence (wherever we are) for such a time as this. And God forbid that we remain silent. 
Be prayerful, be hopeful, have faith, put trust in the living God who rules over Kings and nations and countries and government. Don't put your hope in them but in the living God who can work through them and turn the king's heart . . . (Proverbs 21:1 ). 
We serve a great and mighty God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Great I Am; He deeply cares and moves in the affairs of men. He cares and knows the times that we are in and is able to work mightily in response to believing, persevering prayer. 
I listened to a fascinating sermon from Pastor Michael Youssef the other day and believe that it was providential as I have been thinking and praying over this blog post. He spoke about Sir Francis Drake and his naval battle against the Spanish Armada. At a critical point, Drake apparently sent burning ships ahead of his army towards the Spanish fleet, hoping for a final victory. At the sight of these ships, the Spanish panicked and retreated. After this battle it is said that the Spanish nation was never the power it once was. Youssef made the point that as believers, we often decide to retreat instead of advancing. We become afraid and so we turn back when the Lord would have us press forward by faith. Like the spies who were afraid of the "giants" in Canaan, so we fear the evil powers of this world and are afraid at times to take God at His Word and to go forward speaking the truth in love even though the truth is not received well. 

Who knows what God will do at this time in our country? The future is in His hands. And as long as we have a voice, as long as we have knees to pray and a heart to trust, may we like Daniel and Jeremiah and the prophets of old go forward instead of retreating into our quiet, comfortable Christian lives. 
Vote, pray, have faith. Put action to your meditation. 

Trust the outcome to Him. 
And may we use the time given to us as best we can through the power of the Holy Spirit.
 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.~Ephesians 6:12-13 NKJV

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  1. May the Lord prosper your message Rebekah. Make it like the stone which left David's sling toward the forehead of the blasphemous giant.

    1. Thank you, Patrick--I continue to be so grateful for your encouragement and for your prayers.

  2. I think that our allegiance to Christ has to come before our allegiance to our country or political party. Because of that, I think He expects us to stand up for righteousness within our nation, vote, and get involved in any way He leads us, in order that His people be heard in our land. To be silent in the face of wickedness is to be complicit.

    1. Yes; that is so true, Elizabeth--"to be silent in the face of wickedness is complicit." Such a good admonition there!

  3. Interesting Rebekah...we have compulsory voting here in Australia on all levels of government. We do need to be a voice & have the Lord's influence as the world is definitely on a slippery slope. The enemy of God has an agenda & is very active.

    1. Yes; he does--that is very true! Thank you for sharing those thoughts, Jennifer!

  4. Satan is the Great Divider. He is at work in American politics today.

    1. He is; that is true--oftentimes, too, taking a stand for God's truth will divide (Matthew 10:34). I believe that much of the division in this country is springing from the progressive left pushing against the values that this country has held dear and from Christians remaining silent for the most part. We truly need to be in prayer and consider how we can act against the evils that this country is facing today.

  5. It can be hard to navigate political waters in general. Add to that being a Christian and they can feel impossible. But the good news is we do have a voice, both in the system and in our prayer lives. Sometimes that voice feels tiny, but God's voice is anything but tiny!

    1. Yes! Thank God His voice will be the final one!

  6. Amen! Thanks for this reminder, Rebekah. Our duty is not to understand the process or know the outcome, but to be faithful. May we always be counted on to do right and stand for truth. Blessings to you.

  7. What a huge comfort it is to believe that God is sovereign over all aspects of our lives, including the era into which we were born and the leaders who have been placed over us.

    1. Yes; that is a comfort, truly--may we be faithful in these times! <3

  8. Rebekah, thank you for sharing these powerful words. I am definitely marking this one to read again later when I have more time. Your reminders about fear of the future and obedience are much needed. Thank you for standing strong! Blessings!

    1. Blessings to you as well, Leslie! I'm grateful that it was an encouragement!

  9. Wow as I read this I felt like you were writing my thoughts! Keep up the good work and never compromise on truth. God's word never returns void. God Bless and may we turn the path of our nation!

  10. Rebekah, thank you so much for speaking the truth with God's love and not being concerned about "likes" and people's opinions. I know the same has been true with my little corner of the internet. But while we want to make an impact, we must understand that not everyone wants to hear. I know you get that. There is a great deal of wisdom here and I plan to share and pin in the hopes that many will read it. Blessings as you fulfill your calling. I know you make more of a difference than you'll know in this life.

    1. Thank you for those words, Donna--you are a continual encouragement to me--I'm so grateful for your faithful, uncompromising witness as well. <3