By Justin King, Elder at New Life
Brothers and Sisters,
Over the last six months, I’ve had a growing concern for the church. We are being driven by the spirit of the culture, not by the Spirit of the LORD. The result is a lack of love. We are quick to tear down people, especially political figures, over viewpoints we disagree with. I’ve seen our dealings with those in the world and with one another and how much disdain and hatred we have in our hearts. We might deny it, but the result of this hatred toward people and people groups, regardless of whether they are brothers and sisters in Christ, is damnable (1 John 3:10-15).
Early in my Christian life, I was focused on witnessing for Jesus, full steam ahead. As I got older, my life situations changed, and my focus shifted from being a witness for Jesus to a witness for my political viewpoint. I thought this was a good idea: other Christians did it; it was a good way to engage secular people; it satisfied the godly desire to make the world a better place and to talk about something I loved. Over time, the LORD brought to my attention the damage I was doing to my relationships with the people with whom I disagreed. I was evangelizing for my political viewpoint, NOT for Jesus. I offended others because of my politics and not because of Jesus. I was ruining opportunities to witness to something immensely more important than politics: the salvation of one’s soul through belief in Jesus! Like the Church in Ephesus, I had lost my first love (Rev 2:1-7) and replaced it with something false.
Last Sunday afternoon as I meditated on my concern, the LORD brought to mind how David interacted with Saul during a politically tumultuous time in Israel. I believe this can help us as believers during this time of political turmoil and upcoming elections. Here is a quick synopsis of the story.
Samuel was the last Judge of Israel. The people of Israel came to Samuel to ask the LORD for a king to rule over them. The LORD sent Samuel to tell Israel that kings were no good. They would take all their good stuff. (1 Sam 8:10-18) Israel gave Samuel this response:
“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
Israel wanted to be like everyone else and have a human king to root for and take up their battles. We are not at all different from the Israelites. We want a human king to root for and take up our battles too!
The LORD chooses a tall, good-looking guy named Saul to be king. (1 Sam 9) The people of Israel look at him and say, “Yep, he looks good. Long live the king!” Saul starts out well, but over time, his rule becomes wicked. He follows idols and the LORD rejects him. The LORD then chooses David to be the new king. While Saul was still king, the LORD directed Samuel to anoint David as king (1 Sam 16).
Saul persecutes and tries to kill David (1 Sam 19)! David, in return, rejects the opportunity to kill Saul on two occasions (1 Sam 24, 26), even at the encouragement of his friends. David did not lift a finger or say a bad thing about his king, even though he was wicked. Saul was still king over Israel put in place by the LORD and David respected the LORD’s chosen authority.
Whether we want to believe it or not, the LORD has chosen Bill Clinton, George H W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump to be our presidents over the last 25 years. In His divine wisdom, these are the leaders whom the LORD has allowed to govern our nation. Because the LORD is sovereign over all things, we in turn should respect those whom the LORD has allowed to govern us for his good purposes.
Jesus tells us to abide in him, to connect to him. We need to allow Jesus to possess us so that we follow his commands to love one another. (John 15:9-17) If we do not do this, we will allow the culture to possess us. Our TV’s reveal that our culture offers manipulation, hatred, contentions, lies, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, envy, and factions as its commands (Gal 5:19-21).
It is my prayer for New Life Dresher and the church at large that we would love the brethren and our enemies. We need to model David and trust that the LORD is in control over our nation. We need to abide in Jesus, follow his commandments – love one another, and forgive those who sin against us. Remember the LORD provided Jesus, who was an atonement of HIGHEST VALUE, so that we who sinned against the LORD might be justified and shown mercy. The person who was sinned against provided the payment! Can we, in the same way, sacrifice what is highly valued to us, our political opinions, in order to show mercy to our political enemies? Jesus is worthy of that sacrifice.