Points to Ponder: Prayer in An Evil Time
Points to Ponder
Prayer in An Evil Time
"Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak." (Psalm 12:1-2)
Reading this reminded me that it's a Presidential election year. I have been observing election campaigns since I was 12 years old. From the naive thinking of a simple child of South Baltimore into the "expanded horizons" of my college years, it seemed to me - and still does - that all the speeches and promises are the same stuff delivered by different names at different times. Create jobs, improve schools, reduce crime, yada, yada, yada...Speaking idly...with flattering lips to the target group of the moment, and often with a "double heart they speak."
Of course, it seems that media and voters compel the politicians into this kind of conduct on the campaign trail. "Tell us what we want to hear" (flattery) "Tell us cool stuff, go on Letterman, host Saturday Night Live...(speak idly) Give us image, entertain us. Its not what you're saying - it's how you say it. And if you can dance too, that very cool."
Lately I've been watching the dance on the high places. In the day of the Judges up to the time of the Babylonian exile (586 BC), God's people often joined the idolatry of the surrounding culture. They went to the high places to burn incense, make sacrifices (including their own children), and joined their dancing in a frenzy.
This increasingly secular culture today is pressing the Presidential candidates on their religious beliefs. On the right wing side, they want to hear unashamed confession of faith in God. If they actually say the name "Jesus," that's a bonus. On the left wing, they don't mind the belief in God thing. Nobody criticized President Clinton for going to church and even carrying a Bible. But today we're seeing a double-hearted audience. Tell us you believe in God, to a point; but assure us that your belief doesn't really influence your life or judgment.
If any candidate appears to be waffling on the questions pertaining to their faith, maybe it's because of the thin tightrope on which today's American wants them to walk. On the one hand, we hope he/she believes in God; on the other, we hope that that doesn't really mean anything. And the candidates know that whatever words come from their mouths, many will not hear what they're trying to say, especially when the inevitable soundbite crunches it down for the paper or TV. Its impact (good or bad) may be far more substantial than the content itself. How difficult it must be for a true believer to walk and speak with integrity before God while trying to appeal to voters who may not hear an honest word as well as they will receive the idle words that speak volumes and say nothing.
The United States was founded as one nation under God. The pressure is on to forsake and even downright deny that truth. Woe to us if we actually elect leaders who are a reflection of the nation we are slowly striving to become. It is an evil time. And these times test the faith of those who profess belief in the Lord.
"May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things. Who have said, 'With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?'" (Psalm 12:3-4)
People of faith must be careful to remember that God is not a Democrat or a Republican. The Messiah is not to be found among them nor will He run for election. Regardless of the outcome of any election, the King is still on His throne. It is Him we serve, and whether they believe it or like it or not, all other leaders will bow to Him sooner or later. Our call is to obey Him now, regardless of politics or popularity.
"For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy. Now I will arise," says the Lord; I will set him in the safety for which he yearns." (Psalm 12:5)
God intervenes where human government will not or can not. And He does that today through us.
In all the rhetoric and promises and plans of politicians, remember the only sure words you can trust. Abide by these and boldly dare to act on what He says.
"The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O Lord, You shall preserve them from this generation forever." (Psalm 12:6-7)
As Pastor Bill Hybels says, "The church is the hope of the world." And the world is becoming increasing hopeless.
"The wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men" (Psalm 12:8).
So it's not an easy call, but Jesus Christ has sent His own into it, "as sheep in the midst of wolves" (Matthew 10:16).
"In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b).
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com