Inevitible

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. (Psalm 146:3-4)

Friend: Did you watch the (Republican) debates?

Me: No

Friend: They were awesome!

Me: They are playing to the base, so I imagine it was a lot of fun for you.

Friend: Jesus loves us all. As a person who loves Jesus, I enjoyed the lack of dissing on their Democratic opponents.

Me: But they went after each other pretty hard.

Friend: I only watched the end

Me: I read the transcripts and didn’t think they were all that respectful of one another. Frankly, I think it is better to read their economic proposals, which tell a lot more about the candidates than the debates.

Friend: The thing that is most important to me is… do they know Jesus and listen to His voice.

InevitibleI appreciate my friend’s hope for a candidate who will have a strong moral compass — one founded on his/her life in Jesus. But I don’t expect our presidential candidates to be Christian — not in the hopeful way that my friend does. I am skeptical about the candidates. Though most of them (and most of our recent presidents) have claimed Christianity, very few have acted consistent with Jesus when in office. So when the time comes I will vote for the person who I think will most effectively lead, keep us safe and restore our economy.

I am old enough to have been through many election cycles. There was a time when I held to fairly naive views of what an election promised. I was hopeful. I was thrilled when my candidates won, but then I was disappointed when their leadership betrayed the things they said were important to them (and me). And when those who I did not vote for won, I was disappointed (but not surprised) when they did exactly what I did not want them to do. So I have become increasingly cynical and I don’t really like to be that way.

Power and wealth are irresistible magnets to men and women who aspire to wield them. Those who are in the highest levels of government in America are powerful, indeed. Even the people who orbit about them get very rich and powerful. In an essentially moral environment, conscience could provide a safeguard against misuses of power. But in an amoral environment like we have today — one defined by the survival of the fittest — the ends justify the means (which is a philosophy completely inimical to liberty). As Lord Acton said in his letter to Archbishop Mandell Creighton (Apr. 5, 1887),

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the point at which . . . the end learns to justify the means.”

Because there is so much money involved in politics, the stakes are high. And when power and wealth are so clearly attainable, corruption is inevitable.

I have come to believe that the rest of us are “votes for sale.” We are polled ad nauseum and our behavior at the voting poll is fairly predictable.   In a national election there are a relatively small number of precincts that can swing the vote. Highly-paid experts conspire to win them. Voter fraud adds even more corruption. Do we each really get an equal vote or can our votes be disenfranchised? Once the two parties have chosen their candidates, is the result inevitable? Am I pessimistic… realistic… or both?

So what do men and women who love Jesus do in an election year? What do we want the candidates to do? Maybe we can start by recognizing that we are not voting for a Savior. We already have one. And yes it is good to vote! It is a privilege to do so, to be informed and to vote thoughtfully. But whoever wins this election will be a flawed human being. Whether or not they carry our political banner, their sin-nature is a given — it is inevitable— as is the inevitability of a certain amount of evil in places of power and wealth.

But there is another inevitability. God is on the throne. And He can change the heart of a leader in response to the prayers of His people…

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. (Proverbs 21:1)

And Christians are instructed what to do regardless of who leads in our government…

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

I can advocate for those in power by asking my Father in Heaven to intervene. I wonder how many Christians have earnestly prayed for our current president — for salvation, wisdom, justice and good judgment? Or have we complained and grumbled about him? My own words here convict me! God’s will is not an unknown to me. Prayer for our leaders is a Christian responsibility. It can begin in earnest even during the candidate selection process. For the people of God, prayer for our leaders should be inevitable.

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About marknicklas

Mark Nicklas is a husband, father, son and follower of Jesus Christ. He is a pastor at Beaverton Foursquare Church and an adjunct professor at Multnomah University. He is currently studying for his doctorate in Cultural Engagement. Like Jacob wrestled with God at Jabbok, this site is a place for talking about the identity of the church with respect to the cultures we live in. You are invited to share the journey.
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6 Responses to Inevitible

  1. gdueker says:

    Mark,
    Thanks for your very timely post in this election year. I too have felt completely powerless in my voting. I am the reverse bell-weather voter. If I vote for it, it will surely lose. I am also not a fan of vote by mail or electronic voting as there is too much corruption and not enough accountability.
    Your comment about our not electing a savior struck a chord with me and reminded me of a quote from “Remember the Titans”. About seven minutes into the movie newly arrived Coach Herman Boone, the first black football coach in Virginia, was standing before the expectant community and said,
    “Now, wait a minute. I’m not an answer to your prayers. I’m not a savior or Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, or the Easter bunny. I’m a football coach, that’s all. Just a football coach.”
    Of course in his admission of the limits of his influence he begins to transcend those limits. Why aren’t we amazed that when Jesus expressed kingdom values such as “the meek shall inherit the land” that we don’t look for meek leaders. Perhaps “inheriting the land” must not be important to us.
    After all the voter venting in your post, I am glad that it comes around to the inevitability for which I am thankful, God is on the throne! It is our job to pray for our leaders and build bridges so that we can work together for the common good.

  2. marknicklas says:

    Thanks, Greg. The venting is part of my wrestling with something I really do want to work – one citizen, one vote, and leaders with integrity. The last part is the reality that has been true as long as God has been on the throne – oh – I guess forever.

  3. dakotabound says:

    Mark, I have found that many times as Christians we give ourselves a “pass” on what we say and our attitudes when it comes to sports and politics. For instance, some people I know who would never say a mean thing to a person on the street will yell from the stands at a ref in a rather derogatory or angry manner during a game. The same in politics, I hear some very cruel and derisive things being said about politicians. I must admit, I’ve been guilty as well at times. Also, sometimes I do feel strongly about something and want to get it off my chest, but you are right. We should vote, sincerely pray, and do our part as citizens and Christians. The rest is God’s arena. Hopefully, we can have a strong man or woman of faith in many places of power in our country, but either way God is our true strength. Thanks for all your blogs this year and also all your encouragement to me!!

  4. pastorchapp says:

    Mark, Thank you for the reminder of our Christian responsibility during this election year. It blessed me for you to share as you did here. I to have been through many election cycles and have come to the conclusion that all are flawed and none perfect. That causes me to commit them all to prayer and the sovereignty and will of almighty God. I believe voting is a right, a privilege and our Christian responsibility. I also believe in addition to casting our vote that we must pray for our leaders.

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