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Is It Too Late For America To Have Hope?

Many Christians have expressed deep concern over the presidential election 2012.  Vital issues related to faith and family remain at the forefront of national politics.  Policies and appointments made by our next president will almost certainly contribute to either the healing or the declining of our country.

But this election presents a much bigger question than who will be in the White House for the next four years.  Rather than simply choosing the lesser of two evils, concerned believers should be asking why we are faced with the current choice of candidates.

Some Christian voters say that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism makes no difference.  How can that be?  Mormonism may present some attractive morals, but what about the underlying teachings about the character and plan of God?

Many evangelical believers were outraged when Barak Obama announced that we are no longer a Christian nation.  Yet many of those same people are now apparently willing to vote for a man who professes a religion that is in direct competition with Biblical Christianity, a religion started by a man who declared that all Christian movements and leaders before him taught a false gospel.

Others remind us that the Bible calls for a just society that cares for and provides for the weak and the marginalized.  They believe that Barak Obama’s policies will ensure that we live in a nation that expresses these Biblical values.  But how can we forget that Obama scoffed at the notion of using the Holy Bible as a guide for government policy?

In addition, at a time when God’s design for family is under siege, how can we overlook Obama’s record of promoting abortion and supporting so-called “gay marriage”?  The deconstruction of marriage and family threatens to unravel the fabric of our culture.

By almost every measure the U.S.A. is declining, especially by the most important measure: spiritual vitality.  The spiritual condition of America is shaky at best.  Unless something changes we will find ourselves in a desperate situation.

Pragmatists will insist on limiting the focus of the debate to the two men who are running for office.  But we must honestly ask ourselves why we are faced with such a discouraging dilemma in this election.  How did we sink to our current spiritual state and what should we do about it?

Zedekiah faced a desperate situation.  He was king of Israel about 600 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  He ruled at a time when his nation was threatened by a hostile and powerful enemy.

King Zedekiah needed a word from the Lord.  So he went to the prophet Jeremiah and asked him, “Is there any word from the Lord?”

The prophet Jeremiah had a word from the Lord for Zedekiah.  The king and his nation would be handed over to their enemy, Babylon.  Zedekiah and Israel had ignored God far too long and it was too late for deliverance.

What is the word of the Lord for our country?  Is it too late for America?  I hope not.  But we need to do more than vote for the lesser of two evils.  We need to seek a word from the Lord.

Although the Lord’s word for Zedekiah’s generation was a word of judgment, there was still hope.  A remnant would survive and rebuild at a later date.

More than seeking the right leaders for our government, we urgently need to seek God’s word for our generation.  Our Lord’s policies and decisions are more important than those from Washington, after all, “The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:1).  Indeed, “there is no authority except that which is from God” (Romans 13:1).

God’s kingdom plan in this age will not be thwarted by either the schemes of his enemies or by the disobedience of his own people.  When one generation fails, God patiently waits and raises up another generation who will faithfully carry on his work.

What will become of our generation?  Let’s exercise our right and responsibility as citizens of this great nation to vote in the election Tuesday November 6.  As we go to our polling places let’s prayerfully and carefully consider the spiritual needs of our society.

Above all else, let us urgently and with open hearts seek a word from the Lord for our time.

Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Church, October 2012
Printed 10/
26/12 by Camden News


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Is Jesus a Democrat or a Republican?

Political parties attempt to recruit Jesus as a spokesman for their platforms from time to time.  This is nothing new.  On one occasion, Jesus miraculously fed 5,000-plus people by multiplying five loaves and two fishes.  Some people in that crowd suddenly realized that Jesus would be a great leader for their cause.  They tried to make Jesus king by force.  He declined the invitation.

Jesus was faced with several political choices.  His own people were subject to the sometimes harsh rule of Rome, which motivated various groups to respond in different ways.  One group was convinced that violent resistance was the only acceptable course.  After all, were they not to be ruled by God alone?  This group was deeply committed to throwing off the Roman yoke even if it meant shedding blood.  They were called Zealots.

Jesus rejected the politics of violence.  He refused to engage in brutality or terror in order to build his Kingdom.  The politics of violence is still alive and well in our world today.  Based on Jesus’ actions and teaching, we are persuaded that he would reject the politics of violence and intimidation today, too.

Near the place where Jesus fed the 5,000 another group made their home.  This group saw only evil in both Roman rulers and in the leaders of their own people Israel.  They rejected any kind of real participation in the politics of their day.  They withdrew into the wilderness and formed their own community, pursuing only personal religious goals.  They were called Essenes.

Jesus did not join the Essenes.  He was not absent from the public debate nor was he afraid to face the leaders of his people with challenging ideas.  The politics of withdrawal is practiced in our world, too.  Some groups see political participation as something beneath them, and so they avoid becoming entangled in the complex problems of this world.  We are persuaded that Jesus would not be a recluse from society today.

Other groups in the first century were more pragmatic about politics.  Rome was the center of power and likely to remain so at least into the foreseeable future.  Given the realities of the situation, why not deal with Rome on Rome’s terms?  This group compromised and served the Empire.  They shared power by collecting taxes for the occupiers.  As a result they made bitter enemies among their own people.  To be called a Tax Collector in first-century Israel was not a compliment.

Jesus did not join the Tax Collectors.  In fact, he refused to compromise with anyone about anything.  He claimed to have an independent and superior authority: God.  That claim disturbed those who were invested in the established power structures.  They recognized that Jesus represented a threat to the status quo.  Nevertheless, Jesus refused to soften his message in order to make friends with the powerful people of his day.  We cannot imagine that Jesus would compromise his message today.

Some may wish to argue that Jesus was not political at all, that he was only a religious philosopher or teacher.  But he was political enough to frighten both the Jewish and Roman officials.  They conspired against him and executed him, hoping to get him out of their way.  Ironically they were merely tools in the hands of God, used to advance his Kingdom, the very Kingdom that Jesus was working to establish.  The Kingdom of God challenges the politics of this age, both first century and twenty-first century politics.

True, Jesus did not join the Zealots or the Tax Collectors, but a Zealot and a Tax Collector joined him.  Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector would normally have been bitter political enemies, more so than democrats and republicans of today.  But with Jesus they found someone who was greater than their personal politics.  In Jesus they found another way to do politics, leaving behind their previous ideas and embracing his.

So, is Jesus a Democrat or a Republican?  No, he is not.  Jesus does not have to conform to any pre-determined political dogma.  Jesus is himself a power greater than all others and he does politics his own way.  How then do we label Jesus?  Some may say that we cannot and should not, but I disagree.  There is a label for Jesus, the perfect label: Jesus is Lord.

– Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR, May 2011
Printed May 2011;  Camden News;  Camden, AR.

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