As the inauguration approaches, it’s important to remember that God has never baptized a political system. God revives people. Top-down “revivals” have inaugurated some of the most unfortunate incidents in Christian history.
I received lots of email and Facebook messages this fall about how crucial my Presidential vote was to the desperately needed religious revival of America.
Revived and Reviled in Maine
Believe me, I’m all for revival. One of my ancestors left the established Congregational church of Durham, Maine to become a Methodist following a Methodist revival in the area. His decision is noted in The History of Durham, Maine, written in 1890.
Unfortunately, the history treated my ancestor’s decision not as a spiritual grace but as a political expedient. Its author, a Congregational pastor, listed all of the new Methodists by name as people who simply sought to evade the taxes that supported the Congregational church.
I guess we know that believers are supposed to expect persecution. And there it is, in black and white. The Christian-on-Christian slander made 80 years after the fact still lives more than two centuries later.
Christian Values and Revival
So this fall Christians urged other Christians to vote for Mitt Romney because he shares their values. Having a President who will support Christian values is what will help bring revival in this land, they said. We need revival because Christians are so hard pressed, they said. The laws of this land discriminate against us.
I wonder how our friends in Korea would respond. The two Christians elected president in that country spent more years in jail for their faith than they did in office. Korea now sends missionaries to the U.S., among many other nations; in fact, it is second only to the U.S. in the number of missionaries it sends globally. Korea has experienced religious revival, but the presidencies were fruit of that revival, not harbingers of it. And Korean Christians today are beginning to experience persecution in their home country once again.
Our American Christian friends believe they have been saved by grace, through faith; yet they measure the candidates by Law. One email offered “40 Things God Hates” by which we are supposed to test the candidates; another lists 55 alleged proofs that Barack Obama is more hostile to the Bible than any prior president.
Using the “thief on the cross” test, I have no idea how Mitt Romney will end up at the 11th hour. But measuring the candidates by grace, through faith, I see one presidential candidate who prays to Jesus and one who publicly acknowledged in this week’s town hall that he was pastor for 10 years in his home church, which believes that each married man and woman can become gods just like “our heavenly parents.” I see one vice presidential candidate who gracefully and faithfully walked through family tragedy and one who believes that an atheist philosopher offers better guidance than the Bible for the Nation.
Saved by Grace; Led by Law
Christians proclaim God’s grace and are measuring leadership by the Law. We are at risk of being sadly deceived.
Our willingness as American Christians to do battle for “supportive” regimes using the tools of flesh and blood and the armies of Pharoah has shifted the center of Christian spiritual power to Africa and Asia. I think we’ve mostly forgotten what it means to pray for revival, which comes first within the house of the Lord.
Revive us again, Lord. And remind us, as we prepare to inaugurate Barack Obama for a second term, that you told us to pray for all those in positions of authority: not just for those who gained our vote.