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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Results and the Christian: Part 2

In yesterday's post I talked about a Christian response to the election results from this week. Many of my Christian friends were sorely disappointed by those results, because their political leanings are conservative (as mine are). My point yesterday was that even under the regimes of the most pagan and downright stupid rulers in the Bible, God's people were able to prosper, so even if you think that Barack Obama is evil and stupid (I don't happen to think he is either, but some people appear to) there is still hope for the people of God. But I started to be concerned that one statement that I made might be misunderstood. I wanted to keep focused yesterday on the topic at hand so I didn't clarify then, but I do want to make sure today that it's clear what I didn't mean by it. Here's the statement in question:
In the end, the only thing in the Bible that ever caused God's people to ultimately not prosper is not their leadership: it is their own unrighteousness. God's people failed to prosper not when their leaders were bad, but when they chose not to maintain their own relationship with God.
What I was absolutely not saying by that was that if we are all good boys and girls and keep our noses clean, that God will be nice to us. Looking back at it, it could be read that way, but that's a half-truth that I want to clear up.

The stories I was discussing in that blog post (Joseph, Daniel, and Esther) had one thing in common: they occurred under the Old Covenant. I was telling stories from the Old Testament, and referring to the experiences of the Jewish people before Jesus came to Earth. In those days, the primary means of having a relationship with God was by following the Law. You would do what the Torah said, offer the proper sacrifices at the proper times and when you sinned, and that was the way that people related to God and maintained righteousness. If you read through the books of Kings and Chronicles, the times when the people had rough water as a nation were the times that they abandoned the Law and decided that worshiping idols instead of the one true God was a great idea. When they began to look to idols or to alliances with other nations instead of looking to God, they began to have problems - the problems that ultimately resulted in the exile of Daniel and the other young Hebrew men to Babylon. The means that God had provided for them to stay right with him were the rules they called the Law. Follow the rules and you're OK. That's what I had in mind when I wrote those two sentences yesterday.

However, we're in a different situation now. When Jesus died on the Cross, He took all of our broken rules with Him. We call them "sins," but basically they are broken rules, transgressions of God's Law. God knew that ultimately nobody but Jesus would ever be able to flawlessly follow the Law - that's why He gave the Jews of the Old Testament sacrifices to pay the price for their rulebreaking, and that's why God gave us Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice to pay the price for all of them at once. Breaking the rules is not what separates us from God now; refusing to accept the cleansing that Jesus offers by the blood He shed on the cross is the only thing that gets between us and God. The "unrighteousness" that Israel of the Old Testament never could really quite break free from is the unrighteousness that Jesus has unchained from those who accept Him as their savior. So where "unrighteousness" from an Old Testament perspective meant "breaking the Law" or not following the rules, to New Testament Christians, "unrighteousness" is not a failure to follow rules as much as it is a failure to seek that connection to God that Jesus has provided. I don't think the sin-to-consequences link is the same now as it was then.

So to bring it back around: if you got the idea from my post that I think we should all be good, go to church on Sunday and not kick the dog on Monday, don't smoke or chew or run with girls that do, don't lie or cheat or steal or break the Ten Commandments, and then God will smile on us and protect us from the infernal Democratic Party - that's not what I wanted to convey. Be nice, absolutely. But don't try to be a good person in order to curry God's favor. You already have God's favor if you've accepted Him as your savior. Because you have God's favor, you are free to naturally live a life that lines up nicely with His Will and His Word. And because you have God's favor by the blood of Jesus, you aer under God's protection from whatever might try to harm you. There is no legislation, no five-point plan, no majority in Congress that can separate you from the love and protection and favor of God. We actually have coined a special word for that concept: the word is "Gospel." The Gospel is this: God has made a way for human beings to live in His favor. The guy who sits in the Oval Office has no effect on that.

Here's the original post - and here's Part 3 of this impromptu series!