I also understand the importance of the elections, especially in the spiritual and political climate we find ourselves in today in 2020. Bear with me as I set the tone for what I believe is a consequential time for the Church and for the soul of our nation.
Four years ago on November 2, 2016, I was scheduled to speak and minister at a community wide prayer service in Spring/Woodlands area, just north of Houston, Texas. As it turned out, it also became the day of the seventh game of the World Series that year. Throughout the audience, I could see some of the people expressing their team choice by wearing either Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians gear.
As I got up to speak, I asked the crowd, “How many of you are Cubs fans?” Many enthusiastically responded in affirmation. I got a similar response when I asked, “How many of you are Indians fans?” Then I said, “Tomorrow, some of you are going to be celebrating because your team won the championship. Some of you will be sad and disappointed that your team did not. But at the end of the day, no matter who wins or who loses, you’ll still be Christians. You will still be members of the body of Christ, and you will still be part of the Church.”
I went on, “In a few days the Presidential election will occur, and many of us may have strong differences and political choices and preferences. And, at the end of the day, some of us will be ecstatic and will celebrate, and some will be deeply disappointed. Yet, we must remember that our hope is not in the institutions of man, nor in a candidate or political party. Our hope is in the Hope of Glory, Christ Jesus. When the election is over, we will still be Christians and, as such, should reflect Christ even in our strongly held differences. Will we still reflect Christ even with those who may disagree with us, or we with them?
Again, I do understand that the importance of the elections has far more significance and consequences than that of a World Series or any sporting event for that matter.
Yet, as Christians, we must keep our eyes on the Lord, and our hearts and minds guarded, lest we become disillusioned or even bitter, thus being distracted from God’s destination for us…and we miss the opportunities to reflect His Kingdom in a world of divisiveness, fear, lawlessness, and confusion.
A RETURN TO CIVILITY AND CHARACTER:
Yes, there is an unseen spiritual battle going on, but we are seeing the manifestations in the natural all around. One of the biggest challenges in our society today is the lack of civility and character we display in our disagreements—even in the Church. I’ve never seen so many people who are so adamant and opinionated—politically and otherwise—that they allow their preferences to divide their families, their friendships, and even their churches. It’s painful and heartbreaking, especially from those representing Christ, on both sides of the political preference spectrum.
The only unshakable kingdom is the Kingdom of the Lord, and we the Church must still love each other in our disagreements if we are to help others find their place in the Kingdom. John 13:35 says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” How can we lead others to a relationship with God if we can’t get past our own differences?
If we are to see hope for the future and any lasting change, we need to all look at the inward corruption of our own individual hearts, then recognize and discern our corporate public consequences.
A CHURCH UNITED FOR A NATION DIVIDED:
In Mark 10:9, we see Jesus teach, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” This passage applies to the context of marriage, but it is clear that God is the one who brings the Church together and woe unto the man or woman who causes dissension and separation in the Church. Proverbs 6:19 lists one who sows discord among brethren as one of seven things God despises.
We must walk in Christlikeness, crossing racial, denominational, and political barriers to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We need to love with the love of Christ; it’s the only way we can help others find hope in Christ.
Only a Church united can bring hope and healing to a nation divided!
Regardless of whatever variance of points of view politically many of us may have, may the Church find Unity in our Diversity, so we can be a plumb line of healing and hope within a culture of so much division.
There are Spiritual Laws, Natural Laws, Moral Laws and Civil Laws. Without these laws, especially spiritual and moral laws we open the door to lawlessness and anarchy. Choices always have consequences, regardless of how much we may try to excuse or justify them.
While I was reflecting on and pondering some of the historical examples in Israel that are lessons for the Church and our nation today, I came across an article from Watch Jerusalem in November 2019. It addressed similarities of the political and spiritual climate in Israel prior to the conquest by Romans and ultimate destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D to that of today:
“Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian who witnessed the tragedy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the desecration of the Temple- wrote that the Jews ‘turned their hands one against another.’ Divided families, towns and communities were in conflict…”
Josephus witnessed the political divisiveness and the spiritual division from within that gave way to attack from without. The political and spiritual divisions and fighting in Israel caused instability and weakening, and ultimately in 66-70 A.D. Rome conquered of Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.
In uncanny similarity, we see today the political divisiveness, and the church being divided by external and outside influences that is causing instability. This is why I personally sense the urgency to pray for the church and to get the wisdom of God. We need the atmosphere of His Presence if we are going to see the transformation we need.
While there is so much infighting amongst the church (and lived out in public), we are in danger of being a divided kingdom, so to speak. With the advent of social media, we have come into a new era of opportunities to disseminate information. Unfortunately, there has also been a plethora of exaggerated, skewed, even false information that has opened a Pandora’s box of misinformation and rumors that have bred division, animosity, misinformation, and mistrust.
The Watch Jerusalem article continues:
“Josephus wrote that disagreement…became so sharp it split apart families. ‘There was also a bitter contest between those that were fond of war, and those that were desirous for peace. At the first this quarrelsome temper caught hold of private families, who could not agree among themselves; after which those people that were the dearest to one another brake through all restraints with regard to each other ….’ (The Wars of the Jews, 4.3.2.)
“Tensions intensified. Civil unrest increased. Society became unstable and lawless. ‘Seditions arose everywhere,’ Josephus wrote. Jews gathered ‘together in bodies, in order to rob the people of the country.’ These armed mobs ransacked towns, looted storehouses, and pillaged the countryside…”
Does this sound familiar?
John Wesley once asked his mother, “How do you define sin?” And she said, “Son, whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes away your relish for spiritual things…”
It seems today that our reasoning is weakened, our tenderness is impaired, our sense of God is obscured in all the noise pollution, verbal jargon and rhetoric…thus depleting our relish for spiritual things.
GOD IS SHINING A SPOTLIGHT:
William Booth, who founded of Salvation Army in the late 1800s, said, “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.” What a prophetic statement when we consider where we are today in 2020.
But I believe the Lord is shining the light of the Holy Spirit first upon us and His Church, searching out the dross and rubbish in our lives to purge and refine us in preparation for the days ahead. I believe the Lord is searching throughout the Church with lamps of His Holy Spirit and marking those who are settled in compromise and complacency (Zeph. 1:12). But He is also searching out and marking those who are weeping for all the detestable things that are going on (Ezekiel 9:4).
The Book of Jude shows us that there would be a spiritual battle, and that there would be an increase of apostasy, false teachers and teachings, an increase attack on the church, even on God and His Word.
In these days of increasing apostasy and false teaching, those who love God’s truth will not be liked for speaking the truth. But this cannot stop us from the work of the kingdom which we are called to—speaking His word and sharing His love. We cannot be discouraged by what we see around us, retreating into our holy huddles and disengaging from a world that so desperately needs to see our light.
Courageous leadership does not acquiesce to public opinion or what is popular at the time for personal benefit or gain. It does though, with sensitivity and compassion adhere to a love for truth and personal convictions.
We must be fully prepared—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We must be fully engaged, with our eyes fixed ahead and our hand to the plow, ready to work in the harvest fields! Let us put aside distractions. Let us put off discouragement. No more double-mindedness or doubting.
AMERICA’S REDEMPTIVE THREAD:
We have been the beneficiaries of the blessings of God. Even those who are not Christians have become beneficiaries of these blessings. And God’s intention for us, just as with Abraham’s promise, was that we would in turn be a blessing to other nations. And it is my belief that, from a benevolence standpoint, the Church in America is what helped make America a blessing to the nations.
No matter what difficulties we have gone through, as a whole, we have always been a generous people. We have given to those who are suffering from disasters or hard times, both in our own country and in other nations, regardless of their personal preferences, political persuasion, pigmentation, or religion.
By caring for those in need, the Church has given the nation access to God’s promise in Isaiah 58:8, that in our time of need for healing, our “recovery would speedily spring forth.” I believe this generosity comes from the Lord, and allows us to hold onto God’s redemptive thread as a nation.
I’m encouraged by Psalm 112:1-9, which reminds us: “Even in darkness (difficult times) light dawns for the upright. Those who are gracious, compassionate, righteous, generous, lends freely, scatters gifts to the poor, and walks justly; they will never be shaken, will be remembered forever, have no fear of bad news, heart is steadfast (trusting God), heart is secure (no fear), will triumph, and his horn will be lifted high in honor. (NIV)
Benevolence and generosity, though, are no longer generosity if we are forcibly made to give. Giving must come from the heart. That is why communism and socialism have failed.
I remember being in a communist nation that once prided themselves as being a truly Marxist state. At the time the average monthly income was equivalent to around U.S. $25 to $30. While there we visited with a company that came in from another country to start doing business there, with plans to hire over 100 local people. After hiring quite a few, the government officials came in and nullified many of those that were hired because they were not members of the right party…the Communist Party.
Silencing those who think for themselves or have a different thought means we no longer true freedom of expression and speech. It’s interesting how we are now seeing selective censorship and selective freedom of speech and expression in America. Ultimately, we will all suffer the consequences of this kind of control and manipulation.
In the ‘70s, a revolution of young people took place in another nation. They thought they were fighting for a cause, yet found themselves under the grip of dictatorship that has enslaved them. Years later another revolution of young people tried to peaceably and openly express their desire for freedoms in that same nation, but met with extreme opposition. I’ve personally met with many from that nation and have heard atrocious stories. Once we give up our freedoms, it is difficult to get them back. It is better to maintain our freedoms than to try to re-obtain what we have lost.
I’ve been to dozens of nations, including the aforementioned communist and socialist states. What we have may not be perfect, but at least we have a Constitutional foundation that gives us rights and freedoms to work with—and that others around the globe wish they had.
RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES CREATED AMERICA:
Former Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal says, “America did not create religious liberties. Religious liberties created America.”
Our Constitutional Republic and Democracy will only survive if we hold onto the core values of our Constitutional rights and freedoms. These rights are not just for those we align ourselves with, but also for those we may strongly disagree with.
As an American with Asian descent, I’m extremely grateful for all the sacrifices made for my rights and for all of the Constitutional rights that have been afforded me.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights and protects core American civil liberties: the right to FREEDOM OF RELIGION; Freedom of Speech; Freedom of the Press; PEACEFUL Assembly; and Freedom of Expression:
Unfortunately, there are ideologues and elitists who care more about their ideas, politics, self-absorption, and aspirations than they do about the people they claim to care about. And sadly, freedom of religion is becoming more like freedom religion, and, too often, more specifically like freedom from Judeo/Christian religion.
OPTICS AND LIFE EXPERIENCES:
Our personal life experiences, race, religion, and relationships are all factors that influence our perspectives and optics, and our ideology. In turn, our preferences are easily influenced by and filtered by our ideologies. May our ideology instead be defined by and based on God’s Character, Word, Nature, and Spirit.
As followers of Christ, it is imperative that we surrender our personal preferences and ideologies for the ideologies of God’s Kingdom, not man’s. “The Kingdom of God is built on relationships, first with God, then with one another.” May we be reminded to love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul, and to reflect Christlikeness to others that we may not agree with or who may not agree with us.
This being said, I do have a personal conviction to seek the Lord and to respond by principle rather than by preference. It is clear to me throughout Scripture regarding what pleases the Lord and what breaks His heart. A look at Isaiah chapter 1 gives me a glimpse of this.
Isaiah 1:11-20 says God doesn’t even regard our raising of hands to pray, our gatherings (or conferences), our numerous prayers, our sacrifices, etc. BECAUSE we have allowed the shedding of innocent blood, overlooked justice, and neglected the orphan and the widow.
Our prayers are not heard, He says, because, “Your hands are covered with blood. (Shedding of innocent blood). Therefore, wash and cleanse yourself. Remove your sinful deeds. (Put away your evil doings from before My eyes). “
In other words:
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Personally, I value what I believe are biblical principles of Life, the Sacredness of Marriage, and the protection of our Liberties and Freedoms. If we no longer value life in the womb, then we will no longer value life that is deemed less worthy to some, such as those who may have physical or mental limitations and those who have entered the Golden Years.
It’s time for a soul-searching and corporate heart awakening for revival in the nation. It will come by choice, circumstance, or consequence. Better to have a heart awakening than a rude awakening.
All kingdoms, principalities, and rulerships are subject to the PRE-IMMINENCE OF CHRIST JESUS. Colossians 1:9-18 / Ephesians 3:10 (authority given to the Church)
REFORM OF JOSIAH (from Zephaniah):
Lasting reform and change can only happen when the inward corruption of the heart is dealt with. It will not not last until we first are honest and deal with the our hearts, individually and corporately. A few years ago I found the introductory commentary of the book of Zephaniah in one of my Bibles to be very revealing to where we are today as well.
“During Judah’s hectic political and religious history, reform comes from time to time. Zephaniah’s forceful prophecy may be a factor in the reform that occurs during Josiah’s reign—a “revival” that produces outward change, but does not fully remove the inward heart of corruption which characterizes the nation. Zephaniah hammers home his message repeatedly…” (NKJV Bible)
Zephaniah 3:1-9 says:
Our nation is at a critical juncture and crossroads on many fronts. If our nation’s broken cisterns and foundations are to be fixed, then we, the Church, must awaken our hearts and get back to our spiritual moorings and biblical principles.
Regardless of our political, philosophical, religious or ideological beliefs, we must awaken to the reality that our foundations and freedoms are under attack. Where are the lovers of truth and the voices of conviction? John Calvin put it this way: “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not beholden to the political party of the elephant or the donkey; but I am submitted to the government of the Lamb and the Lion. My political views are not based on personal preference or my own filtering, but I must come to the centrality of the Cross—to the place of recognizing we can only cross our racial, denominational, and generational lines with true reconciliation if we have the cross Christ at the center of our lives and in our hearts. Our personal preferences will always divide us. We’re far more united when we are together in Christ and we recognize His manifest presence.
2 Chronicles 5 says that when the priests came out of the holy, holy, holy presence of God, “they came not according to division.” I can imagine! When we come into the presence of a triune and holy God, our personal styles of worship, our racial and ethnic backgrounds, our political views are all equalized in His presence. We are undone (see Isaiah 6:5).
We need to come to that place of the presence of God. When we’ve been equalized in His holy presence, we become undivided. We have something far more in common together as one voice, one sound of worship, for the glory of God. I’m praying that we would come to that place of putting aside our personal preferences and realizing that we are part of the government of the Lamb and the Lion, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was slain before the foundations of the earth.
A.W. Tozer said, “Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us.” In today’s self-absorbed, self-righteous, self-centered, self-self-self society, we have found ourselves with a veil between us and God. What we need desperately is His presence.
I find myself often praying Zephaniah 3:3-5, 9. “Lord, You are righteous and do no unrighteousness. You bring Justice to light. You never fail, But the unjust knows no shame…Lord, hear our cry to restore to YOUR people a pure language (lip and heart), that we all may call on the Name of The Lord, and to serve YOU with ONE ACCORD.”
“For then I will restore to the PEOPLES a pure language (pure lips), That they all may call on the name of the Lord, To serve Him in one accord.” (Zephaniah 3:9)
The Lion of the tribe of Judah is roaring from heaven. May we hear and be awakened from our sleep and stop pushing our snooze buttons.
In the book of I Samuel, we see Hannah in a humanly impossible situation. In her desperation, and after she commits her calling to God and promises her child to be offered to God in His service, He brought forth, out of an empty womb and out of human possibility, a new generation of righteous judge and prophet.
I believe God, out of the most humanly impossible situations of the past few decades, is about to bring forth a corporate generation of prophetic voices and a corporate generation of righteous judges.
We need the Samuels to arise, and the Esthers and the Deborahs. This is our culmination moment! Don’t give up! Don’t draw back, but push forward. Yes, we are at a critical juncture. But no matter what happens in the season ahead, there’s still a long-view and need for the Church to be engaged and positioned to bring in and be a part of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our time, in this nation, and around the world.
Remember, those who tell the story, define the narrative, and create the history. We have the greatest story to tell because we’ve overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
What is the narrative we want presented by our story? What is the history we want to see created as we define the narrative?
It’s our moment. Don’t let the enemy divide and conquer. But let us recognize we’re part of something greater than ourselves. It’s time to mend our net so that we can be cast by the Lord and bring in a great harvest.
“For Wisdom and Might are HIS. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:20-22)
NOW LORD! (My personal prayer modeled from Acts 4:29-33):
“Now Lord, grant boldness that we may speak Your word with authority and by Your Power. Stretch out Your Hand to Heal. Let Signs and Wonders be done through Your Holy Name Lord Jesus!. May You grant Your Great Power to give Witness to the Work of the Cross and the Power of Your Resurrection…and that Your Great Grace would be upon Your People.”
-by Doug Stringer