Change You Should Believe In

Somewhere in America, a mother loses her son to the war in Iraq, a father’s job ships overseas, an elderly man’s retirement fund has evaporated, a young woman works the night shift after a full day of college but still cannot provide health care for her ailing sister, and each are hoping for a better tomorrow and praying for a brighter day to come. This year, a young senator from Illinois and an old senator from Arizona embody this hope for these people and millions like them. For the past nearly two years, Barack Obama and John McCain have engaged in a historic presidential run, captivated the hearts of Americans, and turned the apathetic into the awed and the bitter into believers.
Regardless of who wins the election, politics as we know it will never be the same. By the time anybody reads this article, the election will probably be over, and history will have been made. Consequently, this article is not an official Beacon endorsement for any candidate but rather an inquisition into how we, as Christians, should view this battle of hope and experience in light of being followers of Christ.
There are essentially three categories that I think most people fall into: the uninformed, the informed, and…everyone else, I guess.
First, the uninformed crowd. Let’s be honest. Some people simply do not care about politics. Especially at a church setting, it seems, being informed about these issues always takes a backseat to the sanctification of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and yourself. This is not to say that all those who are not informed do not care for politics at all, but it just does not seem as important as “Christian stuff.” For others, it seems that life goes on no matter who is in office or what happens in Washington and as a result, they find no reason to read up on the news or care who is running for president. Though I would be hard-pressed to find any passage in the Bible that says you have to maintain a steady discipline of CNN and BBC News intake, I would like to submit this smidgen of logic: God is a sovereign God. He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Fittingly, the scope of God’s power and grace cannot be limited to the local church or in our personal sanctification. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” And so, it is not too far a stretch to conclude that God’s handiworks, even in politics, are instruments of carrying out His will and making His glory known. Therefore, as Christians, we cannot turn a blind eye to what happens in Washington or dichotomize issues into God and non-God. In the end, being uninformed is not a sin, but caring about what goes on in the country and being informed can help us gain a better view, understanding, and appreciation for the depth and extent of God’s grace.
And for the informed, I would caution that the close nature of this election has made it easier to polarize fellow brothers and sisters because of their political differences. Experience, albeit little for me, has taught me two lessons. One is that some battles are not worth fighting. For example, trying to convince someone that Obama is the antichrist or that McCain is a warmonger are issues that I consider absolutely trivial and fruitless. The second is that 1 Corinthians 8:1 (Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up) most certainly holds true when it comes to talking about politics. Some who consider themselves informed condescend, some argue, and unfortunately, some get so worked up upon discovering fundamental differences in values and opinions in others that they inadvertently remove love (and consequently God) from their efforts to ostensibly reform the other person. However, just as I mentioned above, because God’s handiworks is in everything, including politics, discussions about it should never be devoid of God and love. In other words, since we are to be united as the body of Christ, political discussions can occur with the intent to educate and encourage, but should never come as a means of division.
For everyone else, make no mistake as the next candidate, regardless of who he is, will succeed a president who has received one of the lowest approval ratings ever, averaged what economists call a “dismal 1.7/5 for economic management,” alienated other parties, and damaged relations with the rest of the world. He will inherit what “The Economist” calls “the most difficult international situation since 1968,” and what Colin Powell describes as a “daunting period” for the nation. Times will inevitably be tough these next few years and in these trials, we invariably find people who believe that a candidate will be the solution to these problems. In this election, perhaps more than ever, we find citizens holding firmly to a hope in these candidates—to what McCain promises as “reform, prosperity, peace” or what Obama calls, “change you can believe in.”
Although it is not wrong to want a better or a more prosperous future for yourself and your family, one must remember to never desire these things more than desiring God—a theme we find in 1 Samuel 12. After God has given the Israelites a king, He reminds them that their ultimate responsibility is to obey His commands:
“Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see the Lord has set a king over you. If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God – good! But if you do not obey the Lord,…His hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers.”
Similarly, God has blessed us with a democracy where we have the privilege of voting. However, much as the Israelites needed to be reminded, we must also be reminded that our hope in these candidates should never supersede the things of God and our hope in Him, or as Pastor Patrick so aptly put it, “God’s plan was never for our ultimate hope to be established through government or politics.”
In regards to the political makeup of our church, though bipartisanship remains an integral part of our government, it has no place in fellowship. Political conversations can be healthy and educational, but political agendas should never come at the cost of needlessly dividing fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all children of God saved by the same grace and imputed the same righteousness, and politics should never make us lose sight of this truth: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (Eph 2:19)
We now find ourselves either bracing for or embracing the next President of the United States but regardless of party affiliation, we must remember Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:2 to “not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” For people like the mother and her son in Iraq, the father and his unstable job, the elderly man, or the hardworking young woman, every passing election will assuredly bring promises of reform, prosperity, and change they supposedly can believe in. However, as Christians, do these hardships cause us to turn to certain candidates in such a way as to lessen our dependence on the sovereignty and grace of God? Do we get more worked up about the things of politics than the things of God? Are we more eager to spread our political agendas than the Gospel?
Ultimately for all Christians, for the informed and uninformed alike, in light of this election, we must never let these promises and issues make us lose sight of our ultimate Hope—the Hope that has transformed and renewed our minds, the Hope which gives us the change we can and must believe in.

by Ed Yip

Somewhere in America, a mother loses her son to the war in Iraq, a father’s job ships overseas, an elderly man’s retirement fund has evaporated, a young woman works the night shift after a full day of college but still cannot provide health care for her ailing sister, and each are hoping for a better tomorrow and praying for a brighter day to come. This year, a young senator from Illinois and an old senator from Arizona embody this hope for these people and millions like them. For the past nearly two years, Barack Obama and John McCain have engaged in a historic presidential run, captivated the hearts of Americans, and turned the apathetic into the awed and the bitter into believers.

Regardless of who wins the election, politics as we know it will never be the same. By the time anybody reads this article, the election will probably be over, and history will have been made. Consequently, this article is not an official Beacon endorsement for any candidate but rather an inquisition into how we, as Christians, should view this battle of hope and experience in light of being followers of Christ.

There are essentially three categories that I think most people fall into: the uninformed, the informed, and…everyone else, I guess.

First, the uninformed crowd. Let’s be honest. Some people simply do not care about politics. Especially at a church setting, it seems, being informed about these issues always takes a backseat to the sanctification of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and yourself. This is not to say that all those who are not informed do not care for politics at all, but it just does not seem as important as “Christian stuff.” For others, it seems that life goes on no matter who is in office or what happens in Washington and as a result, they find no reason to read up on the news or care who is running for president. Though I would be hard-pressed to find any passage in the Bible that says you have to maintain a steady discipline of CNN and BBC News intake, I would like to submit this smidgen of logic: God is a sovereign God. He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Fittingly, the scope of God’s power and grace cannot be limited to the local church or in our personal sanctification. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” And so, it is not too far a stretch to conclude that God’s handiworks, even in politics, are instruments of carrying out His will and making His glory known. Therefore, as Christians, we cannot turn a blind eye to what happens in Washington or dichotomize issues into God and non-God. In the end, being uninformed is not a sin, but caring about what goes on in the country and being informed can help us gain a better view, understanding, and appreciation for the depth and extent of God’s grace.

And for the informed, I would caution that the close nature of this election has made it easier to polarize fellow brothers and sisters because of their political differences. Experience, albeit little for me, has taught me two lessons. One is that some battles are not worth fighting. For example, trying to convince someone that Obama is the antichrist or that McCain is a warmonger are issues that I consider absolutely trivial and fruitless. The second is that 1 Corinthians 8:1 (Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up) most certainly holds true when it comes to talking about politics. Some who consider themselves informed condescend, some argue, and unfortunately, some get so worked up upon discovering fundamental differences in values and opinions in others that they inadvertently remove love (and consequently God) from their efforts to ostensibly reform the other person. However, just as I mentioned above, because God’s handiworks is in everything, including politics, discussions about it should never be devoid of God and love. In other words, since we are to be united as the body of Christ, political discussions can occur with the intent to educate and encourage, but should never come as a means of division.

For everyone else, make no mistake as the next candidate, regardless of who he is, will succeed a president who has received one of the lowest approval ratings ever, averaged what economists call a “dismal 1.7/5 for economic management,” alienated other parties, and damaged relations with the rest of the world. He will inherit what “The Economist” calls “the most difficult international situation since 1968,” and what Colin Powell describes as a “daunting period” for the nation. Times will inevitably be tough these next few years and in these trials, we invariably find people who believe that a candidate will be the solution to these problems. In this election, perhaps more than ever, we find citizens holding firmly to a hope in these candidates—to what McCain promises as “reform, prosperity, peace” or what Obama calls, “change you can believe in.”

Although it is not wrong to want a better or a more prosperous future for yourself and your family, one must remember to never desire these things more than desiring God—a theme we find in 1 Samuel 12. After God has given the Israelites a king, He reminds them that their ultimate responsibility is to obey His commands:

“Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see the Lord has set a king over you. If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God – good! But if you do not obey the Lord,…His hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers.”

Similarly, God has blessed us with a democracy where we have the privilege of voting. However, much as the Israelites needed to be reminded, we must also be reminded that our hope in these candidates should never supersede the things of God and our hope in Him, or as Pastor Patrick so aptly put it, “God’s plan was never for our ultimate hope to be established through government or politics.”

In regards to the political makeup of our church, though bipartisanship remains an integral part of our government, it has no place in fellowship. Political conversations can be healthy and educational, but political agendas should never come at the cost of needlessly dividing fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all children of God saved by the same grace and imputed the same righteousness, and politics should never make us lose sight of this truth: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (Eph 2:19)

We now find ourselves either bracing for or embracing the next President of the United States but regardless of party affiliation, we must remember Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:2 to “not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” For people like the mother and her son in Iraq, the father and his unstable job, the elderly man, or the hardworking young woman, every passing election will assuredly bring promises of reform, prosperity, and change they supposedly can believe in. However, as Christians, do these hardships cause us to turn to certain candidates in such a way as to lessen our dependence on the sovereignty and grace of God? Do we get more worked up about the things of politics than the things of God? Are we more eager to spread our political agendas than the Gospel?

Ultimately for all Christians, for the informed and uninformed alike, in light of this election, we must never let these promises and issues make us lose sight of our ultimate Hope—the Hope that has transformed and renewed our minds, the Hope which gives us the change we can and must believe in.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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