November 6: Election Day.
I have linked to a really interesting article I chanced upon while researching Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote that the government created for America was “A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.” The article was written in 2010 so the 2008 survey it quotes is a little dated – but from listening to the current political discourse among various groups of people over the last year, I would guess the statistics that indicate “what people don’t know” have expanded since 2008, not decreased.
As the article highlights, a majority of people no longer can define the differences between a Republic and a democracy. I would say I’m surprised…but the truth is, I’m not. I am finding that many of our future government leaders (aka, today’s young people) are even hard-pressed to explain the differences between democracy and socialism. Let alone the points of difference between socialism and communism, nor why any one of them is preferable to governance than any other. My opinion: this is a truly dismal situation that needs desperately to be corrected.
However, this is not a political blog, so let me move on to my “spiritual” point: the clear parallel I see between great masses of self-governing people not understanding the difference between republicanism and socialism, and great masses of people created in the image of God having no understanding of Who God is, any of His attributes/characteristics, nor the difference between the ways of this world and the ways of His Kingdom.
And that’s a problem. No good will come to either group of people found to be in such a state. It is a problem in both national self-governance just as it is a problem in representing the body of Christ in a local fellowship.
One of Thomas Jefferson’s well-documented quotes states, “God…has formed us moral agents…that we may promote the happiness of those with whom He has placed us in society, by acting honestly towards all, benevolently to those who fall within our way, respecting sacredly their rights, bodily and mental, and cherishing especially their freedom of conscience, as we value our own.” (1814)*
When I ponder this quote from one of our Founding Fathers, it brings me a new dimension in appreciating Paul’s teaching in I Timothy 2:1-2: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (NASB)
Too often, I believe this is a prayer spoken with fear, as if taking a preventative medicine. We do not want to find ourselves in a perpetual whirlwind of tumult, not tranquility; of traumatic events rather than quietness; and with nonstop assaults on both the concept and embodiment of godliness and dignity.
Though Jefferson wrote these thoughts in a letter to a friend, I find it powerful and thought-provoking to present it as a prayer: Lord, increase our influence for good as we stand as Your moral agents, promoting honesty, benevolence, and freedom of conscience among those who view life differently than we; Give us wisdom and insight to vote in, and support, those leaders throughout our country who use their morality to cherish individual rights, promote harmony and well-bring, walk in integrity and honesty, protect and defend our personal ideals and dignity, and honor You as sovereign God; for these things we give You thanks and offer You our country, to guide and protect, and through which You pour out your blessing of wisdom and uprightness to all nations, cultures, ethnicity, and peoples.
Six times in the New Testament (NASB translation), we who have come to known Jesus are referred to as “the elect.” On Elect-ion Day, I find it both tremendously uplifting and humbling to remember that before the foundation of the world, the Father, Son and Spirit elected to create a family for fellowship, indwelling, and impact on the world. He – all Three! – elected to adopt us.
I Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous Light.” (NASB)
Selah. We have a great calling and there are masses of people who need to hear that message.