Wednesday, June 22, 2016

We’re Called to Stand

It’s a lousy time to teach through Jeremiah.

Often called the weeping prophet, in reality he was the losing prophet. When he started his ministry, God gave him an immense challenge. “You must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.” (1)

That was followed by the least encouraging pep talk of all time:
“Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. (2) 

In other words, God says, “I am calling you to stand against your people, your political power brokers, and even your religious leaders. And know ahead of time, they’re not going to listen. Just remember, you don’t answer to them, you answer to me.”

So, Jeremiah began his ministry. He went to the Temple and proclaimed the message. Over and over again for forty-some years. And just like God foretold, the people fought him. They beat him, imprisoned him, dropped him into an almost-empty cistern, and eventually kidnapped him and took him to Egypt, the place God was telling them not to go. 

They did almost everything to him imaginable, except for one thing: listen. In one instance the king even made a great show of cutting up and burning Jeremiah’s messages. 

Jeremiah was, by almost any rational analysis, a loser.

Except for one thing. He wasn’t called to win. 

He wasn’t called to convince everyone that he was right. He wasn’t called to form a coalition with Egypt and save the nation of Judah. (3)

He was called to stand. 

In the midst of a nation that was moving in the wrong direction, a nation that was ignoring God’s standards, Jeremiah wasn’t called to save them. His job was to stand for God’s principles and proclaim that the only hope the nation had was God, not coalitions. So he stood, and he was persecuted, and he died looking an awful lot like a loser.

Years later, another Prophet came to the Temple in the middle of chaotic times. He, too, could have formed a coalition. He could have compromised. He could have come up with a political strategy, and convinced His followers that to stand against both the Romans and the Jewish leadership was to choose to lose. 

Instead, He walked to the Temple and quoted Jeremiah. “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” (4)

So, they killed Him.

And three days later, God won.

In this election cycle, we’re being told we need to choose a side. That not voting for one of the two establishment candidates is choosing to lose, and therefore not allowed. 

I’m told I must either support the candidate who doesn’t seem to have any personal convictions except gaining power and making abortion easier, or the one who brags about his serial adultery (and his penis size), and who firmly believes the best way to attain power is to take advantage of the weak.

Now I’m watching as good Christians begin to talk themselves into this dubious “truth.”

Well, I can’t. 

I can’t vote for someone who encourages the continued destruction of the unborn (5). And as a Christian who encourages his friends to choose a life path that encourages purity, selflessness, and care for the weaker members of society, I can’t drive around with a bumper sticker on my car supporting a candidate who stands against every one of those ideals.

I can’t, and I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to.

It’s not my job to see how many of my principles I can compromise in order to form a coalition that could save our country through some political process. It’s my job to hold tightly to and proclaim the principles that can lead God to rescue our nation.

Winning at all cost may be a pragmatic approach, but it’s not a Christian one. 

So, I’m choosing to let God be in charge of winning and losing.

Because I’m not called to win; I’m called to stand.

(1) Jeremiah 1:7, NLT
(2) Jeremiah 1:17-19, NIV
(3) That was the number one suggestion from the nation’s leaders on how to solve the Babylonian problem.
(4) Matthew 21:13 NIV. The den of robbers line is from Jeremiah’s speech at the Temple. The quote about the house of prayer is from Isaiah 56:7. When God called Isaiah, God told him that he was to speak to people who would not hear what he said, and that it would all end with the people being taken into exile. (Isaiah 6:8-13)
(5) Interestingly, Jeremiah’s call contains one of the strongest Bible verses on the value of the unborn. (Jeremiah 1:5)


Duke said...

Hey, that's what I just realized! I too was told I had to pick a side and vote or I could say NOTHING about how skrewed up our politiitions are, our Nation is, and our people are!
My answer? "The heck you say!" I fought for and earned the right to say anything I want, vote how I please and fight like heck to get people to change! So I'll just stand.
This is good!

Keli Simpson said...

I'm under the impression that if I don't vote I'm not talking a stand. I'm not letting my voice be heard. That standing off to the sidelines is wrong, especially in this election. However, like you Steve, I can't vote with a clear conscience before God for either candidate! I laughed a little earlier about how the libertarian party might actually have a chance this year, only because there's nothing else. I will stand. You know me. I just don't know how to stand in this election. Not voting at all just seems wrong to me. What exactly are you suggesting when you say stand for God's principles?

FreedomMomma said...

Being a Christian that has the gift of prophecy, I have identified with Jeremiah on countless occasions. And, I do get the command to "stand". Only when I ask God what to do I believe He has told me to vote against abortion. Abortion has been my litmus test since my conversion in 1995 and it continues to be that. I will be voting in November. I will be voting with 2 primary things on my mind. Abortion and the preservation of this republic. And, the person who spoke about the libertarian party candidate...I would gladly vote for Gary Johnson, however, he needs to be splashing all over the media, so the, not so informed, citizenry realizes there is someone else. Otherwise, we will end up with the candidate that he set on the destruction of this country. These are not easy choices.

Steve Davis said...

Keli, I think the standing primarily occurs outside the voting booth. Articulating whenever it's appropriate the Why behind what you're thinking. Letting people know that you stand for the things Jesus stands for.