As election day 2020 is bearing down on Christians in America, it is imperative we take some time to consider our ways (Haggai 1:7). I am not referring to the way we vote, but how we behave in the run up to election day and how we are called to live regardless of the results. In the case of a win, we must remember that gloating is not a Christian virtue. In the event of a loss we must not give in to the impulse to rant incessantly or continually complain, concerning the end of the world as we know it or desire it to be politically.
Let us face a biblical fact: Jesus’ return appears to be close at hand, therefore, regardless of if our choice wins the office of the presidency, the world is rolling towards its culmination, at Christ’s return. For this reason, the Lord offers us a contrast in Jeremiah 17, between the way we are called to be in Christ and the way of those “Christians” who place their trust in men, for the purpose of rescuing their desired and ideal version of life.
This comparison and contrast is so very important, considering what our Lord Jesus declares in Luke 9:23-25 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”
Sadly, over the past three months, Christians have not only complained incessantly, concerning the possibility of our candidate getting a raw deal, but exhibited anxiety, fear, and at times a lack of discernment considering the ways of politicians; who make inflammatory statements, as a rule, for the purpose of stoking fear in their constituents. This behavior can and does short circuit the life of Christ in us, for we can say we trust Jesus Christ our King, but behave in ways that declare we want a president to do our bidding and to protect our rights; civil rights the word of God never decrees God protects.
America Christians in danger of the same error as the Israelites, when they demanded a king, even after being told what that king would do. In this error, we are not denying ourselves, and are seeking someone to save our way of life. We must wake up, that we don’t lose our own souls.
Even should the candidate with policy more closely reflecting our morality win, he is still a man vey prone to sin, and as such he or any man should not be trusted to provide, protect, or give present comfort. For the Christian, those and all our needs are met in God alone (Psalm 91; Philippians 4:19).
Why is this important? Because the church is so hyper focused on getting their candidate elected, that we have become more tumble weed than fruitful tree.
Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NKJV) Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.
TUMBLE WEED CHRISTIANS PUT THEIR TRUST IN MEN
The person who trusts in men, meaning they look to men or the ways of men to provide, to protect, and to give comfort concerning their way of life, are defined as “Cursed” by the Lord. To be defined as “Cursed” means to be loathed by God, as a person who does not live out what God’s says it means to trust Him. Simply put, the “Cursed” person is guilty of unbelief, declaring their trust of God for all things (Matthew 6:25-33), yet behaving in ways which deny their profession.
The model for this sinful behavior is laid out in Hebrews 3:6 through Hebrews 4:4. In that section, Israel is given as an example of unbelief, as those who professed to know God, but denied that profession by how they lived opposite of His commands. How did Israel do this? When the going got tough, they complained and wanted another leader, rather than Moses. When that did not work, they wanted a king to be like other nations. This was because they did not like the way God provided, protected, or expected they live for Him with all their heart.
Yes, they professed to trust him but wanted men to do their bidding. When that desire did not go their way, often by God intervening and giving them hardship that men could not get them out of, they wined, complained, and behaved like pagans; running after the promises of men and other gods. All the while, they still professed to follow YHWH. This, in turn, led to deeper trouble and their being farther away from the one true God.
Even Israel’s best, David the second king, fell to trusting in men and “making the arm of the flesh his strength“. II Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21 describes how David, in sinful error, numbers the people of Israel. This no doubt arose from pride in man’s might, based on military population. He was not trusting in God who produced victory for Israel, when all odds were against them, but in the “arm of the flesh”. In a catastrophic and deadly way, his desire to trust in men and the flesh, led to the death of 70,000 souls.
Whether we want to admit it or not, the trust given to our current president as the greatest help to Christians and unborn children, is bordering on the absurd; and before I am labeled a liberal, I would never vote for a pro-choice abortion pusher.
The point is, that many Christians in the U.S. see the signs of the times and declare Jesus is coming back soon, but those same Christians will then parrot conservative talking points as preserving the future for our children and grand children.
How does that work, knowing that before Christ’s return, believers are hated and persecuted world wide? Therefore, it does not matter how Republican America is, or what policies are decreed. We are not called in Christ to secure democracy for future generations, but raise our children in the instruction and admonition of the Lord, regardless of the government we live under.
I believe and look for “the Blessed Hope”, the great and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-14), but that does not mean that American Christians escape political or civil hardship or overt suffering; as have followers of Christ have suffered for their faith in every age.
Truly, the trust we have placed in conservative politicians, is misplaced. Let us vote responsibly, understanding our King Jesus is our only hope and escape. To do other wise is to set ourselves up for disappointment and possibly deception. To do so robs us of the vitality of being fruitful, as we trust in the promises and strength of men, their charisma and often times their belligerent pride. May we all remember, that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:1-6).
Proverbs 28:25 (NKJV) He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered.
As much as our current president’s policies are inclined to my biblical beliefs, his character can not simply be excused. The word “proud” above can be translated “greed” as well, both of which have been hallmarks of his life. The candidate on the other side is not of better character and is equally ensconced as an example of this verse.
Therefore, to trust they will deliver for our children and grand children is a false hope, which can lead to our being unfruitful.
Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert
NO LIFE NO ABILITY TO GIVE LIFE
When considering the product of a person who trusts in men and makes the flesh his strength, we must first understand that it is the first step towards apostasy from a foundation of unbelief, as Jeremiah 17:5 declares “whose heart departs from the LORD“. Hebrews 3 calls Christians to beware of departing the Living god, throguh unbelief.
Hebrews 3:12-15 (NKJV) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
We see how unbelief and departing are inexorably tied together. What is unbelief, but to profess you trust the LORD, but rather than abide in His promises, the person explores men and the arm of the flesh for their need. This practice leads to barrenness, akin to a tumble weed.
What a descriptive picture. A tumble week is a specific kind of Russian milk thistle plant, brought to the U.S. in seed, from Russian immigrants. While green, it gives animals some sustenance, but having a shallow root system it dies easily and is unable to reproduce, having little seed production. By analogy, the one who trusts in men and the strength of the flesh…
- Have not hid the word of God in their heart sufficiently to trust in it (Psalm 119:11), when trouble comes. Therefore their roots in the Holy Spirit (The river of Living water) are non existence. The become empty of the Christ-life quickly and having insufficient seed in the word of God, turn to other options.
- Being dry, devoid of the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-19), they produce little or no spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22). Therefore, the lost are not drawn to Christ through their profession of Christian faith. The fruit of the Spirit is necessary for others to see our faith as authentic, without which they cannot taste and see that the Lord is good.
- Having no root, we tumble as blown around by every potential political or existential threat. We spin out of control in anxiety and the fear of man, which produces undue anger (Matthew 6:25-33; Proverbs 29:25). In that state, we ca be blown around by every wind of doctrine as well (Ephesians 4:14).
As I look at Facebook over the last three months, the above characteristics are playing out through Christians, who treat this election as if it is the most important ever. If I recall during Obama’s two elections cycles, pundits and Christian leadership said the very same things. We were called to trust in men like john McCain who always played both sides politically and Mormon Mitt Romney, a shameless flip/flopping politician.
When will we wake up. Come November 5th, we’ll still be saved and awaiting the blessed hope; the only hope which does not disappoint. We will still be called to live our and execute the Great Commission. Trust in God you people, not in men. What is produced by that choice is wonderful and will be covered in our next post.