I will not give in to fear. I refuse to give in to hate.
Do I like the direction in which the country is heading? I do not. Do I believe the current occupant of the White House shares my values? I do not.
But I will not give in to hate. I will not give in to fear.
For many though, this election was far from an easy decision. Yes, the positions of the Democratic party on abortion, on gay marriage, and on other issues, are not in line with what I believe. On the other hand, I reject the extreme greed, selfishness and materialism that seem to drive many of the Republican policies. I’m not sure Abraham Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt would recognize what has become of the party they once proudly championed. But John “ask not what your country can do for you” Kennedy probably wouldn’t recognize some of the Democratic positions, either.
For once, I actually found myself agreeing with Bill Clinton when he said that he preferred a national attitude that says, we need to help one another, because we’re all in this together, rather than one that says, “I’ve got mine, you’re on your own.”
The scripture says, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak.” Might that not include economic failures as well? In Bible times, landowners were required to make provision for the poor, the alien, the widows and orphans. What should that provision look like for today? I don’t know the answer, but I do believe that the fact that some people abuse the system, shouldn’t mean that we refuse to help others.
Granted, we should not reward laziness, and simply throwing money at a problem – whether it’s taxpayer funds, or private donations – rarely solves anything. And yes, Jesus did say that the poor will always be with us. But I don’t think He meant that we should be content with that, or that He meant to let us off the hook from trying to help.
So I will not give in to fear. I choose to live in hope. I will “make every effort” to reach out to the poor, the lonely, the disenfranchised. What does that mean? It means knocking on some doors, offering a hug, delivering a meal or a sack of groceries. It means opening my door for some people to come eat with our family, and opening my heart to others, to build friendships with people who aren’t like me.
It DOESN’T mean just volunteering on Thanksgiving morning at some soup kitchen, or giving a few dollars for a Sunday School Christmas project, so we can have a warm fuzzy. That’s sacrificing to the LORD my God that which cost me nothing.
But I will not harbor resentment, or hate, or despair in my heart. I will not look to Washington for answers, nor wait for the election of 2016, nor put my hope in princes, of either party. The weapons that I fight with are not the weapons of this world, and my struggle is not against flesh and blood.
I will pray for the President and for Congress, because the scripture commands me to do so, and because it’s the right thing to do. I will submit to lawful authority, so long as it does not require me to disobey God, because every civil authority is established by God and answerable to Him. I will render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto to God what is God’s.
The same Roman government that Paul urged his readers to pray for and submit to, was the same government that executed him. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refused to bow to the king’s statue, they didn’t question his right to exercise authority over them.
God establishes seats of power, and brings down nations, to accomplish His purposes, and He doesn’t ask my opinion. Do I like the fact that some states have legalized gay marriage? Of course not. Do I approve of the way my taxes are being spent? Certainly not, at least not in every case. Do I approve of laws making assisted suicide legal? No. (More on that later.)
But these are all symptoms of a larger problem. The human race is fallen. We need a Savior. Relationships are broken – between people and God, and among us as humans and neighbors. Unless and until we deal with that brokenness, nothing will really change.
(By the way, legalizing marijuana is just one more symptom of that brokenness. It just shows people looking for some peace – they’re just using something that cannot satisfy.)
But I will live in hope. Not some pie-in-the-sky kind of mindlessness that refuses to recognize the seriousness of the situation, but the kind of hope that knows that God is still in charge, even when I don’t understand. The hope that comes from knowing that greater is He Who is in me, than he who is in the world. Knowing that my God will one day wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more pain, or crying, or death, for the old order of things will pass away.
And there will be no more hungry children. Or crack-head welfare mothers. Or economic oppression. Or injustice against the weakest among us. Or abuse of power. Or corporate greed. Or bloated government. Or environmental disasters. Or any of the other things that plague us because of our brokenness.
Until Jesus returns to bring the Kingdom in its fullness, I will work to make it real in my life, and in the lives of those around me. I will share my food with the hungry, and not turn away from the stranger in our midst. I will declare good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim release from captivity for those who sit in darkness. I will work to bring justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with my God.
I will live in hope. And I will not give in to fear.