I Wish American Christians Made A Bigger Deal Out of This Election

 

With all the chaos breaking loose over this election, I wish we were making a bigger deal of it as Christians.

So many of us believers are only making a big fuss about the candidates. This isn’t just about candidates.

Some of us are proclaiming that this is all just about party lines. This isn’t just about political affiliation.

There are some bold people extending their case to encompass the courts and court justices. This isn’t just about the justice system.

I’ve heard an increasing number of Christians crying out for the sake of the future of America. That is valid. But this is bigger than America.

This is about you, me, and our testimony before unbelievers, fellow believers, and God Himself.

The Common Enemy We’re Missing

When we make so little of something so important, we are not armed nor prepared for the battle at hand, even as we rush into it. We aren’t paying attention to what war this battle is part of. It seems we are clueless as to what cause we’re even fighting for.

We’re not even recognizing who the enemy is.

The enemy causing such perversion of sexuality, freedom, identity, morality, and goodness in a nation founded on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” wasn’t born in the 1940s.

This enemy inciting Christians to turn on and attack the very core of one another’s beliefs and character wasn’t founded as a political party in the 1800s.

An enemy threatening the future of world peace and life as we know it is not waiting for an opening in the Supreme Court to obtain power.

The enemy responsible for the outcome of the election and your great-great-grandchildren’s fate is not replying to your comment on Facebook.

Rather, the enemy we fight has been in action since before he first slithered up to the original couple and offered distraction from God. Our enemy is Satan. His deceit is sin- when we choose to dishonor God.

The Big Deal We’re Not Making

If only we were making a big deal about the very thing election hype is distracting us from: we know the God who remains good when so much around us seems terrible.

We know who wins the war when the enemy’s battle strategy is fierce and tempting.

That same God affords us an opportunity to obey and glorify Him, living lives worthy of Him, in the face of tribulation. He invites us to stand on the winning side of the ultimate war- the war against God’s way.

We have the joy of freely consulting with God Himself about the task of voting for His glory. We have the joy of freely trusting that as we participate, God is all the more involved. We have the joy of remaining calm and steady knowing that elections, though important, aren’t everything.

We know our freedom is guaranteed by God, not the United States. And through integrity we have the privilege of honoring God with the freedom He gives, using our vote.

Best of all, we have the peace of knowing that it is God alone who we are accountable to- for how we vote, how we speak, how we campaign, and how we represent Christ.

That’s a big deal. It’s also how we defeat the enemy.

Defeat or Victory: A Choice We Still Get to Make

It isn’t just a moral decline in America we’re witnessing. Rather, we’re watching the enemy persuade millions of souls that honoring our agendas is more important than honoring God.

When we live as if strategizing according to the law of “the ends justify the means” is representative of the Gospel, we are defeated before the battle begins. When we argue on the basis of choosing whichever we believe is “the lesser of two evils,” we walk defeated believing there is no good, only evil as an option, which means no victory.

In Beth Moore’s words: “Poor, poor God. He’s down to His last two options. And poor, poor us for having such a poor, poor God.”

Appealing to God’s historical use of godless rulers who were already appointed to leadership undermines the integrity of those who did and do suffer as respectful, godly citizens under such rulers. They didn’t have poor, poor options.

But in the United States, we have a choice. We are not yet defeated.

the-bigger-battleagainst-the-common-enemy-can-be-won-indeed-it-has-been

This bigger battle against the common enemy can be won- indeed it has been.

These lesser battles are also won through the big deal we’re not talking about right now: honoring Christ.

When it comes to honoring Christ, we always have a choice- and a good choice.

Our choice for victory this election season, this lifetime, this century, is to “present (ourselves) to God as (those) approved, worker(s) who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth?” –2 Timothy 2:15

Decide to proclaim this testimony before unbelievers. Select this testimony to speak before brothers and sisters in Christ.

Choose this testimony before God:

Finding our hope in You and our freedom in You and our faith in You, we unashamedly, confidently participate in this election process with integrity.

This is how you and I defeat the greater enemy.

Act with integrity and confidence that God’s way is the only good option. By maintaining our faithfulness and obedience to our God, we, as individual people, can win in the election and in so much more.

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14. BEHOLD: The One Worthy

You better be good, for goodness’ sake. You’ll get coal in your stocking if you aren’t nice this year. You’d better make this Christmas one to remember, or you could ruin it for everyone. Be worthy: it’s what Christmas is all about.

Except…at Christmas we remember Christ coming. The only one of whom we can say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

 –Revelation 4:11

He was born in a barn and laid first in a stable. His years of conquering this world involved peaceably healing others while proclaiming God’s truth. He was persecuted for that. The righteous king of all things, He rode into the holy city on a donkey colt’s back. He died on a cross.

Does He sound worthy? Does it sound as though He got what He deserved?

Worth before the Lord is so unlike the value system we have in this world. Not bound up in circumstance, stature, or receiving, worth in the Lord’s kingdom is all about the giving.

The one who is worthy of all praise is the giver of life. He is the giver of eternity and of all good gifts.  Through Christ, He is the giver of perfect love and security. There are no quantities to measure when determining worth with the Lord. No gain is earned, but any “gain” is given by the Lord in complete grace.

What a different sort of Christmas it is to live and act as if that which is most worthwhile is giving to the Lord the praise that He is worthy of.

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

Psalm 145:3

Behold, the gift that gives and through us gives and to us gives that through us He might give.

Behold, the one who has nothing to gain and who gladly gives everything.

Behold, the only one who is truly worthy of all praise!

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4 Biblical Strategies for Honoring Your In Laws

You’re probably familiar with Exodus 20:12 –“honor your father and mother”. While fumbling over “Nan-uh, Mrs., uh, Mom?” it isn’t always obvious that this command applies to your relationship with your in laws too.

According to the current stereotype, in laws are common household enemies. There’s even the popular mantra “you don’t just marry him or her, you marry his or her family too!”

The Bible doesn’t gloss over this sort of relationship. In laws have been around from the beginning, and so has the awkwardness, difficulty, and blessing that comes with merging families. Biblical characters like Jacob and Ruth sought to honor their in laws, though difficulties abounded.

Jacob’s father in law, for example, tricked him into marrying the wrong girl and forced him into 20 years of manual labor. Ruth’s mother in law Naomi spent time in mourning telling everyone to call her “bitter”.

Though their relationships with their in laws were challenging, the way that our Biblical predecessors chose to relate to their in-laws sets an example for us.

  1. Jacob and Laban: Respectfully Leaving and Cleaving

                When you get married, you hear the phrase “leave and cleave” a lot. You might even cite it when your spouse calls Mom for the recipe that you aren’t making “quite right.”

This Biblical command defines marriage not only for the two who have become one flesh, but also for the parents. In laws should respectfully give you and your spouse space to become knit together and to form your own family. Some in laws have a harder time with that than others, and not just during your early years of marriage.

Laban, for example, loved his daughters Leah and Rachel –but he definitely had a hard time letting go. Jacob sought the wisdom of the Lord in the matter. When Laban confronted Jacob about running away as a family, Jacob pointed to God.

Respectfully, Jacob stood on the way of the Lord and relied on God to rebuke Laban in his unrighteous anger and battle for control. Choosing to respect Laban while also honoring God’s intentions for marriage, Jacob formed a covenant with Laban before the Lord that established his desire to have peaceful relationships and to do right by his wives through the leaving and cleaving process (Genesis 31).

  1. Moses and Jethro: Humbly Accepting Wisdom and Counsel

                People naturally enter marriage with pre-conceived notions of how life and relationships are done –and often each spouse is convinced that theirs and their parents’ way is the right way.

                It takes humility to set aside the notions that you’ve developed in order to accept the counsel of others, especially when you feel like you’re doing really well on your own. Listening to the counsel and wisdom of your in-laws when their way is so different?  That can be even harder.

                Yet that is exactly what Moses did. While leading the freed Israelites through the wilderness, Moses was visited by his father in law, Jethro. While sharing with Jethro about God’s victory and praising the Lord with him, Jethro gave Jacob some unsolicited advice.

                You can probably identify with that. Most of us can. What’s spectacular about Moses’ and Jethro’s exchange in Exodus 18 is that Moses actually listened. Jethro’s advice came from a place of wisdom, love, and humility before God. Recognizing his father in law’s Godly words, Moses responded in wisdom and humility as well.

  1. Ruth and Naomi: Being Compassionately Present

                Certainly the best known in-law in the Bible, Naomi is relatable. Like so many, she suffered loss in her life and became openly bitter about it. Outspoken about her grief and her hopeless situation, Naomi may not have been the most pleasant mother in law.

Imagine Ruth’s position as a young widow trying to care for a depressed in law while herself suffering. Ruth wasn’t in a familiar situation, she didn’t know anyone but Naomi. Yet her response to the trials of the family she married into was one of absolute compassion and commitment.

Ruth understood what it means to be present. Her famous words of “where you, if you…I’ll go, I will” evidence her devotion to actively participating in her mother in law’s life. She took on Naomi’s burdens as her own, just as she once took Naomi’s son as her own husband.

What’s more, Ruth wasn’t just committed to being present through Naomi’s trials like a “bad weather” friend. She rejoiced in sharing blessings with Naomi. We know about Naomi’s joyful reaction to holding her grandson –just imagine Ruth’s expression as she witnessed Naomi’s delight.

  1. Peter and His Mother in Law: Entrusting In-Laws to the Lord

                Mark 1:30 tells us that Simon (Peter) had a mother in law. When she got sick, Peter told Jesus and Jesus healed her. It’s a simple story, but it’s lovely. Peter entrusted his mother in law to the care of the Lord.

                The Hebrew word for honor in Exodus 20:12 is “kabad,” which means “weighty, heavy, burdensome” concerning importance. In Greek it is “timaó,” – “to assign value.” These words describe honor as valuing someone as important.

                For Peter, honoring his mother in law meant valuing her and her burdens enough to turn her over to the Lord for healing. You can do the same thing for your in laws in prayer, honoring their person by taking them on as people you love enough to lift up to the Lord, even if it has to be from afar.

In Conclusion….

                Not every controlling father in law will be rebuked by God like Laban was, and not every in law will have the wisdom and good advice of Jethro. Some mother in laws may, like Naomi, be bitter –and not want you involved or around.

                You can honor your in-laws anyway. Be respectful in doing what is right, like Jacob. Choose humility and listen to sound advice like Moses, while measuring it against the Scriptures like the Bereans (Acts 17:11). Remain compassionate in all circumstances like Ruth. And, like Peter, entrust your in-laws to the Lord.