The Last Resort

A while back I shared a meal with a friend.  I use the term meal loosely.  I ate a meal but I’m not sure what he was eating.

I noticed two piles on his plate.  One pile looked like a dead ferret.  The other pile looked like, well, a dead ferret.

When I asked for an explanation, here’s what I got.

“This pile is all the fat and this pile is the good part.  I separated the fat from the good part. That’s why there are two piles.”

After hearing his explanation and examining his plate a little closer, I thought he should’ve put it all in one pile and made himself a sandwich instead.  I kept that idea to myself.

After weeding out all of the legitimate options, it looks like American voters will find themselves in a similar situation this November.  This means that you’ll get to hear well-meaning people tell you why you should vote for the guy who only sort of likes abortion as opposed to the guy who really likes it.  This way, we’ll finally get rid of Obama and that’s best for America.  Right?

But why should getting rid of Obama be the primary concern for the Christian voter?  Sure, the president is no friend to Christianity but were things really any better under the previous administrations?  Babies were still murdered, your freedoms were still gradually taken away and your kid’s money was still used to prop up businesses that were dying but fortunate enough to have all the right connections.

If somehow Obama is defeated in November, I’m sure all the people who went with the lesser of two evils would find themselves lamenting, to themselves of course, that the new boss is a lot like the old boss.  As exhibit A, look no further than the party in the streets some conservatives threw when Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s old seat and compare it to their reactions once the junior Senator actually starting doing things.

What if Christian voters stopped settling for merely replacing Obama?  Surely there must be a better goal.

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul tells Timothy to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions.”  Paul didn’t say this because he was buddies with the guys in those high positions.  Paul was all too familiar with the violence and corruption that comes with many governments.  He didn’t write this in a vacuum either.  Ephesus was a place known for its idolatry and willingness to riot should the gospel get in the way of that idolatry (Acts 19).  And still Paul tells Timothy to lead his church in praying for their political leaders.

At first glance, prayer may seem like a last resort.  Isn’t there more that we can do?  Maybe we could march on Washington?  But history has shown us that once a movement is big enough to make a splash by marching on Washington it has become vulnerable to being overtaken by the very system it seeks to change.  Okay, but what if we wrote letters and e-mails to the politicians who represent us in DC?  That’s certainly another option but while you write your Senator, write another letter to Nickleback and tell them to quit making terrible music.  Let me know which one responds to you in the most timely and favorable manner.

We shouldn’t think of prayer as throwing in the towel and burying our heads in the sand.  Rather, it is the highest form of humble trust in the One who is sovereign over all men, even the most powerful among us.  When we pray for God to grip men like President Obama and Mitt Romney, we ask that he would so reveal the lordship of Christ to them that it would lead them to repentant, humble submission to him.  As a nation, we have failed to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and as a result, we’ve elected leaders who have failed right along with us.  It’s the book of Judges all over again.  And when we pray for leaders who are already serving in submission to Christ, we pray for the light of Christ to brightly shine through them as they serve in dark places.

This is a scary time for our country.  With apologies to Clint Eastwood, it feels more like we’re down by 10 late in the fourth quarter than it does halftime.  Currently, approval has been given for thousands of spy drones to fly over our own country.  Abortion and homosexual marriage are being forced upon us, not by activist groups, but by our own government.  On top of that, our nation’s current foreign policy seems to be if you can’t afford to buy it, borrow to get it and if you can’t do either of those, blow it up.  All of this is immoral.

For too long, different spectrums within Christianity have allowed themselves to be co-opted by political parties.  This has turned many of us into walking billboards for those parties, always chasing the dangling carrot of caring for the poor or ending abortion and never quite reaching it.  But maybe next term!

Prayer helps us to break out of this cycle.  Instead of settling for the lesser of two evils, in prayer we seek for the evil and the men who peddle it to succumb to the supremacy of Christ.

I know you’ve probably heard this for a long time but our country really needs prayer.

Men, lead your family in praying for President Obama.  Ask God to change his heart and make him lead in submission to Jesus Christ.  Your wife needs to see you doing this.  Your kids need to be taught how to do this.  Simply coming home and repeating what you’ve heard from Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity doesn’t do any good.

Church leaders, lead your people in prayer for our leaders.  This will help them to remember that our hope isn’t found in poll numbers but in the one before whom one day every knee will bow “and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).

Christians will always differ on policies and candidates.  That kind of diversity is part of the beauty of the Church.  But we must all agree that praying for our leaders and our government is a command of scripture that must be taken seriously, just like all the others.  Making our voices heard through voting and other means is crucial but without prayer it’s all a colossal waste of time.

Maybe prayers is the last resort.

And that probably has a lot to do with the condition that our country is in today.