Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles;
Their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from the burdens common to man;
They are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
They cloth themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
The evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
And their tongues take possession of the earth.
Therefore their people turn to them
And drink up waters in abundance.
They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?”
This is what the wicked are like—
Always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Psalm 73:1-12 NIV
The idea of rich people abusing their power, thinking they know more than God, or having no regard for other people is not lost on the Psalmist. Yes, these people may increase in status, success, and wealth as defined by the world’s standards, but that is not the end of their fate.
This humble reminder is my thought of meditate today. I meditate on these words and share my thoughts not to encourage support of one candidate on another. I have no political alliances.
I rarely write about politics on this blog, and when I do, I prayerfully and thoughtfully attempt to take a higher level view, asking the most important question, “How is God at work in the midst of us right now?” You will see this in posts like:
You will find in these posts that I’m actually less concerned about how the current state of our political affairs will impact the future of America, as I am about how the complacency, injustices, apathy, and silence of the American church will negatively impact our cultural influence and witness in our own country and to the rest of the world.
In political matters, many have read and referenced the passage about rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God belongs to God (Matthew 22:15-22). As citizens we owe Caesar taxes (as referenced in these passages and the next scripture reference), respect and honor for their authority (Romans 13:1-7), and submission as presented in 1 Peter 2:13-15.
The problem is that most of the time in America, we render unto Caesar (i.e. that is our government, political parties, and national allegiance) what only belongs to God. This is the sin of idolatry. Our desire for power, a false sense of control, and self-preservation tempts us to render Caesar our worship. We are compelled to trust Caesar to provide a more safe, financially stable, and world for us and for the future of our children. Caesar looks out for Caesar. Caesar will always fail us. We cannot put our hope or trust in Caesar.
As people of God, we must render unto God only what belongs to God. Only God is worthy of our worship and unquestionable allegiance. There will be an end to our human power structures, and that reality must provide clarity for us.
When I tried to understand all of this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their [the wicked] final destiny.
Surely you place them on slippery ground;
You cast them down to ruin.
How suddenly are they destroyed,
Completely swept away by terrors!…
Those who are far from you will perish;
You destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
Psalm 73:16-19, 27-28 NIV
With this in mind, I want to share the words of a friend, Dr. Soong-Chan Rah for those who align themselves with one political party, specifically because of the issue of abortion. Like Soong-Chan, I have a ‘from the womb to the tomb’ pro-life position. I believe that God is the giver of all life, and since life is the gift of His to give, it is only his priority and responsibility to take away at the time of his own choosing.
Even as a young believer, I never understood why abortion was the stand of injustice that some people decided to hang their political hat on. That confusion was for two reasons: 1.) I’ve always believed that by the time a woman considers abortion the local church and/or her community has most likely failed her several times, and 2.) I come from a marginalized people group in which there were far too many political injustices that negatively impacted generations of lives of those in my community. I don’t have the privilege of limiting my compassion to only one issue.
I regret that I have failed measurably over the years when trying to address this issue with Christian friends (mostly those from the dominate people group). However, Soong-Chan has a way of adequately capturing what I knew but didn’t have the words to express over the years. Consider his contribution in your political conversations:
The “go to” argument for evangelicals that support Donald Trump is the Supreme Court. No Christian can justify Trump’s words, actions, character or temperament. So evangelicals who know they cannot evoke character or values in defense of Trump, revert to the mantra: “we need a Republican in office to shape the makeup of the Supreme Court so we can overturn Roe v. Wade and end the killing of babies.” SCOTUS drives our POTUS vote. What follows is an edited re-post from a few years ago that seems to apply to the current election cycle.
Let me say up front that I am pro-life, which is not always a popular position. But I believe that the Scripture calls us to advocate for all life – born and unborn. However, I am deeply disappointed in those that are supposedly leading the pro-life charge in American politics. And I am deeply disappointed in those of us who have bought into a miracle strategy to end abortion that has disappointed us for the last forty years. So I offer my take on the miracle strategy against abortion as offered by the religious right for the last forty years.
STEP 1: Find a candidate for President who is pro-life. He must be a pure pro-life candidate who is singularly dedicated to overturning Roe vs. Wade or at least offer up the rhetoric or pretend during the primaries that he would be dedicated to this task. He must not waver (from now on) in this one quest. We must ignore all other elements of the candidates’ policies and ignore numerous unbiblical aspects of his platform, life, character, and words.
STEP 2: Get that candidate to win his party’s nomination. Even if (see above) you end up supporting unbiblical, racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, narcissistic, pathological aspects of the candidate. Eventually we may actually like some of these policies and crazy, off-the-wall comments.
STEP 3: Next, get that candidate to win the national election. Be sure to demonize the opposing party’s candidate by any means necessary to get your pro-life candidate elected. One potential side effect: we may end up losing our spiritual and moral authority by supporting a candidate with zero morality and does not in any way reflect a commitment to Christ and his teachings.
STEP 4: Once that President is in office, wait for a death. Or more realistically, multiple deaths. We will need at least one, most likely two Supreme Court justices to die. And it has to be the right Supreme Court justices that die. Not one of the ones we like.
STEP 5: Bring the right nominee for the Supreme Court. He must be someone who is unequivocally pro-life and committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. At the same time, there can be no indication in any of his rulings or in anything that he has said that he is pro-life because that would derail his candidacy (a la Robert Bork). Pray that he is an activist judge (i.e. – willing to change the law of the land from the bench on issues like abortion and health care) but at the same time a non-activist judge (unwilling to change the law of the land from the bench on issues regarding civil rights).
STEP 6: Wait for the right court case to come along that makes its way through the entire federal court system in a timely fashion, before the makeup of the court changes. So this time, we’re not praying for a death, at least not the death of one our judges. Be sure to elect the right President to a second term so that the court’s makeup doesn’t change again.
STEP 7: When the right court case comes along, pray that it is worded and framed in just the right way so that it is able to overturn Roe v. Wade. We must also pray that none of the justices have shifted in their thinking or that they may actually want to adjudicate the law rather than make the law. (Thanks a lot Justice Roberts for acting upon your judicial morals rather than politicking from the bench during the Obamacare challenge in the Supreme Court).
STEP 8: Make sure that Congress will not create any new laws that would undermine the SCOTUS decision. So now we must work in every state to insure that the right candidates get elected into state office, even if that means we continue to tolerate unbiblical values in the government.
Essentially, this approach has been our strategy for the last forty years. How has it worked so far? No substantive change.
Voting single issue in the Presidential election every four years is a lazy way of appearing to be pro-life, but it absolves us from seeking other channels to actually be pro-life. And for those who may ask, “What’s the option?” Two suggestions:
1) Cutting the supply of abortions will not fully address the issue. We need to CUT DEMAND. Even if we were to categorically end legal abortion, we would still have illegal abortions because there would still be a demand. We can’t be so caught up on the supply side that we neglect the demand side. Change the world, our nation, our neighborhoods, our churches, our families so that there would be NO DEMAND for abortions. In which case, supply would also cease.
2) The poll numbers indicate broader national support for abortion rather than opposition to abortion. Simply changing the federal laws via the Supreme Court will not be enough of a change if the majority of American still support abortion. There has to be a dramatic sea change in how the majority of U.S. citizens view abortion. The best way to have that dramatic change would be to immediately grant citizenship to the 12 million undocumented aliens, most of whom are Christians with conservative views on social issues like abortion. If American evangelicals truly believe that abortion is the number one social problem in the United States, then we need to advocate for changes in a lower ranking social problem (immigration) to address the very important primary issue of abortion.