If you’ve spent any time on this blog you know that I’m an Evangelical, Bible-believing person. Politically, I lean left on some issues, and right on others. I have friends on both sides, so it’s difficult for me to jump on board with the popular belief that “liberals are trying to destroy our country,” or, “conservatives are under-educated, overly-armed people who don’t care about anything.”
But I’m worried.
So many from my Evangelical camp seem to be losing their minds.
Someone has been whispering that our political foes want nothing more than to take away our freedom. I can take a guess at who that might be – there’s one particular media outlet that’s seen by many as wholesome and mostly aligned with God’s priorities.
I used to have an Evangelical neighbor who had it playing on her TV 24/7.
And it’s just like any other media outlet. It knows its audience and makes lots of $$ telling them what they want to hear. It doesn’t broadcast “fake” news, it simply doesn’t tell the whole story – just enough to lead one to believe that the “other side” wants nothing more than to burn our country to the ground.
Either way, there’s this army of people, all claiming allegiance to God, who are frightened, angry, and view any “liberal” agenda as the Devil’s seed.
And like religious people who see their country in danger have always done, we believe it’s up to us to turn things around.
Jesus dealt with this. Many of His followers believed it was their job to eradicate Israel of the Romans. Bad as the Romans were, Jesus had a different agenda for His people, one that repeats itself over and over again in the Bible.
God knows we get angry and frightened about the state of our country, and the world, so He saw fit to include one simple commandment, something we’re all supposed to be doing, but seem to frequently excuse ourselves from it.
It’s a commandment that forces us to step down from our anger, and stop the finger-pointing, division, and general hatred that has so characterized Evangelical politics this year.
The commandment is found in the Old Testament Book of Second Chronicles, chapter 7, verse 14, and goes like this:
“If my people, who are called by My name, would humble themselves,…”
We all tend to think the problem lies beyond us. Our country’s predicament is someone else’s fault. Our bad marriage is someone else’s fault. Our bad kids are someone else’s fault.
And when we believe other people are screwing things up, we judge them, belittle them, downgrade them.
We take to social media and spew our venom, devil’s seed as it is, and rip to shreds anyone who doesn’t think like we do.
But, according to God, job number one isn’t finger-pointing, accusations, anger or fear.
By definition, it cannot co-exist with anger and fear, and took the last train for the coast in the lives of so many Evangelicals.
“… seek my face and pray,…”
Over and over again, the Bible commands us to seek God’s “face.” It’s a weird statement, mainly because it doesn’t translate well into English.
Basically, it means to be overcome by the beauty and power of God.
If you’re ever witnessed something beautiful and powerful at the same time, I’ll bet you didn’t feel a hint of anger or fear, or thoughts of all the knuckleheads in your life trying to screw things up.
You felt peace, and probably a right sense of your place in this world.
But, it’s difficult to stop and rest in anything beautiful and powerful if you’ve already been whisked away by anger and fear. And if there’s nothing consistently beautiful and powerful in your life, it’s easy to get whisked away.
That’s the predicament for so many in my camp. We’ve reduced life with God to church attendance, “moral” living, and “right” theology – something the Devil could subscribe to if he were here.
For too many of us, the beauty and power of God aren’t things we experience on a regular basis, so we fall victim to their replacements, which are seldom good.
But if you were overcome with peace, if you were suddenly stripped of all the anger and fear that has overtaken you, if there was nobody left to blame or accuse, what would you pray for?
Would you ask God to heal the anger and division that has taken our country?
Like it or not, that’s what we’re commanded to do.
“… and turn from their wicked ways,…”
We love to talk about how the gays and abortion doctors are ruining our country.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone from my camp talk about the sins of others while completely ignoring their own.
Sure I sin, but not like that guy over there.
One reason I’ll never reject scripture is because it lays down an anthropology not seen in any other religion. It claims that we’re all sinners, i.e., we’re all sinning the same. My sin’s aren’t any worse than yours, and vice versa.
In a nutshell, we all have our own personal brand of what the Bible calls “wickedness.” We all have places where we’re flying in the face of God, whether we know it or not.
This commandment in II Chronicles commands us to stop pointing fingers at the sins of others, and deal with our own.
King David knew this so well that he asked God to show him the sins he wasn’t aware of.
Examine me God, and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns!
The only way we can point fingers at someone else, and/or engage in the hatred that so characterizes Evangelical politics is to believe that we’re somehow less “wicked” than our foes.
We’ve become clueless of the myriad ways that we’re destroying our country. We’re in desperate need of David’s prayer – to become more aware, convicted, and moved to fix the only thing we can control – ourselves.
“… then I will heal their land.”
Nobody would argue that our country is in need of healing, but who’s job it is to bring this healing is in some dispute.
According to this commandment, God is the only one who can fix this, and he’s willing to do just that if we’d agree to do three things:
- Humble ourselves
- Get a grip on our own crap
Nevermind what the godless, gay-wedding-cake-baking heathens are up to. We’ve been tasked with three simple things, and guaranteed that if we, God’s people, are willing, our country will be healed – and jeeze is it need of healing.
This strongly implies that if things get worse, or God forbid, our country falls, it won’t be because of Obamacare, or gun control, or whatever other unholy liberal agenda.
It will be on us – the people who claim to belong to God. We didn’t listen. We didn’t want humility, or prayer. We blamed our problems on everyone else, refused to take responsibility, and kicked God out of the driver’s seat.
But don’t look to me to lead to the “pray, be humble, and deal with your own crap” charge.
I struggle here. I frequently see my political foes as complete idiots who seem to want war. This perspective simplifies the problem and makes me feel like one of the “good guys.”
Prayer, humility, and asking God to show me where I’m screwing things up don’t sound fun to me. They sound hard. Painful.
But, trite as this will sound, healing hurts. And if the healing of my country involves my own healing, I’ll have to experience pain.
Which I’m willing to do as long as I can have a martini and a movie night when we’re done.