In two weeks we will know who our next president is and in three months he or she will be inaugurated. Hopefully this will serve as reminder and encouragement as we enter a new season as Americans and as Christ followers.
Who is your Messiah?
Let us not be like the early Jews and others who were so focused on a political messiah that they missed the real Messiah in front of them. Messiah is defined as "a leader or savior of a particular group or cause," and the Jews were looking for just that: an earthly King to be born who would demolish their enemies, destroy evil, and make their nation forever untouchable. But God is WAY bigger than an earthly, political savior.
How many of us have believed that the next president will be the 'leader or savior of a particular group or cause' or in other words our "messiah"? I know I ashamedly and subtly have fallen into that thinking before. Its a slippery slope during election season. But government is not God and so many are fooled to think it is. The good news is we already have the one true Messiah and King in Jesus Christ. Praise God our hope, security, and stability doesn't ride on the shoulders of a fallible person. The Kingdom God established is eternal and not of this world. It is not constricted by geography, ethnicity, resources, or a person's history. It is open and available to all. It can be fully trusted and our hope can be fully placed in it. It will reign forever long after every earthly government ceases to exist. So let's not put all our hope in government and thus deny the authority and power of God's eternal Kingdom that was established 2000 years ago. But also, let's not be deceived to think that we should not care tremendously about our government, this election, and our country.
Now to emphasize the One True Kingdom is NOT to downplay the importance of this election or any government or election. Christians are called to be engaged in the welfare of their city and country because within those cities and that country are people! Just as Jewish exiles were commanded to engage and not reject Babylon when they were forced to leave their home and live in a city with completely different values, so we as Christians are present day exiles who are called to engage our nation while living in a culture that is radically different from us.
Interacting with an ever changing culture
As David Platt explained in his book, "A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture," the early church and Christians did not check out of culture, did not combat culture, and did not conform to culture - they countered culture, as should we. So which category do you fall under? When we check out of culture, we are doing what is completely against the gospel and our call as Christians as we create our little Christian bubbles and shut ourselves off from the world. When we combat culture "we start to see culture as our enemy to be defeated instead of people to be saved." This approach is highly offensive and highly unsuccessful at reaching people for Christ. When we are conforming to culture we start compromising what we believe and the way we act in order to appeal to and appease the surrounding culture. We play it safe to the other extreme by blending in and affirming the relativistic culture around us. But we are called to engage culture in a very different way than the previous three ways. As David Platt explained, "Countering culture means engaging culture with conviction and compassion while standing firmly on the truth of God, empowered by the Sprit, to extend the love of Christ to a lost and dying world."
Engage others with compassion and conviction while standing on truth. If we reject the compassion part of this, the truths we possess could easily fall on deaf ears; after all, 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that words without love are akin to banging cymbals together. If we leave out truth, we are feeding relativism which infers that knowledge, truth, and morality shift and change with culture, people, and times. Relativism denies the importance of absolute truth. As Christians we are called to stand on and live by truth which is established by God and is timeless and unchanging no matter what people or period it exists in. Truth is God’s Word (John 17:17) and it encompasses the commands and the promises of God.
Importance of Truth
As Christians why do we staunchly stand on truth? Because we know that within truth is no deception. Within truth are no destructive consequences. Within truth we always find the correct pathway. Within truth is no sin. Sin leads to destruction and death. Sin is hurts people. Sin has a ripple effect, effecting not just the perpetrator but many others in its reach. As A.W. Tozer said,
"God is holy, and because He is holy, He is actively hostile toward sin. Never let any spiritual experience or any interpretation of scripture lessen your hatred for sin. It was sin that brought the ruin of the race; it was sin that brought the savior to die on the cross, it is sin that has filled every jail and hospital. It is sin that has made every murder and every divorce and every crime that has been committed since the world began. In the presence of this holy God, sin can never be anything but a devious deformity."