Count The Cost

It’s the day after the election, and we are still waiting for several critical states to finish counting. As I write this, Donald Trump is leading in enough of these to win the electoral college yet Joe Biden is ahead in the popular vote. I’m sure neither side has neglected to prepare to contest the results from any angle possible, so it could be awhile before we know for sure who will win.

Can we draw any conclusions from any of this? To me, it seems obvious that more participants are now engaged in a deadlock.  Each side is doing everything imaginable to incapacitate the opponent. As if a fight to the death, no dirty trick is morally off-limits. Anything goes.

We the people.

God has given this nation a system whereby the people have a voice in this government. Can anyone argue that politics as we see it is a manifestation of ourselves? I certainly don’t like to compare myself to Donald Trump, but he’s the one representing the people who most think like me. I’m sure the same can be said about Joe Biden. It seems to me that our candidates will change as we the people change.

I read an emotional and impassioned Facebook post of a relative of mine that clearly was a slam to Donald Trump and those who voted for him. It was disturbing to me especially because she is a school teacher. With that kind of anger expressed in the middle of the night, I don’t know how she could prevent her political bias from influencing the children in her classroom.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Or is it? Given that the county she lives in voted 2.5 to 1.0 in favor of Trump, I would say that she has a minority opinion of the school district she represents. If I was a parent in that district, it’s likely I would be troubled by that.

The question then is how do we fairly present to our children common values in a nation that is pretty much divided equally? Is it just the teachers who are corrupting/enlightening our children, depending upon your own particular point of view? Or do we each have an obligation to look at a situation fairly?

Is it a matter of simply holding our tongue so that we may be more kind and gentle in our speech? That helps, but it is more than that. One is not able to hide a heart that has been hardened. Likewise, a soft heart is certainly noticeable. Our nation needs softer hearts, in my opinion.

How do we go about that? Elections don’t seem to be going the right direction, and the media goes wherever there are advertising dollars. Both these point back to us, as in you and as in me. Our hearts have grown hard, and things will only change when we change that.

So, does it begin with my teacher relative? Well, yes, I suppose so, but it really begins with me. Am I willing to take a hard and honest look at the things that I vote for and be willing change my opinion on any of it? And, if I’m willing to do that, will I?

Look, there aren’t two people in the world that think exactly alike. Sure, it helps to have things in common to get along, but there will always be differences. Sometime these differences will be small, sometimes big. If both parties want to live in peace, then both parties need to give and take. Some things will be easy to give, others won’t. In fact, there may be some that are non-negotiable. That’s OK. People can live with that provided that other things can be worked out. If they aren’t, well, then you get what you see in today’s newspapers.

Like a bickering married couple, someone has to give first. That’s common sense, but very hard to accept. Perhaps outside help is necessary to guide the process. That’s OK. Actually, it is recommended. Most of us don’t know how to reconcile. How could we? Fighting is easier in the short run. Reconciling is much harder but the rewards can be immeasurable. 

To my Christian friends. I urge you to initiate this self-examination process under the guidance of scripture. Ask God to give you understanding and wisdom. He is faithful in that, but be warned that you need to follow his guidance (James 1:5-6). Try to find the non-negotiable things of scripture so you know what is and what is not something to hold dear to.

Is my right to bear arms a God-given right? Not according to the bible. The Constitution may say so, but that’s a document of man, not God. Yes, Jesus’ crew had weapons in the Garden, but was that a divine right the way we enjoy it today? No.

How about freedom of speech or religion? Do we have the God-given right to be have a tax-exemption to fund our churches? Nope and nope.

Do we have obligations? How about to the poor or widows and orphans or to the sojourner? Yes, we do.

So, really, what grounds do we have to demand anything? We don’t. We certainly have an obligation to point out sin and share the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we also must realize that God allows people to sin. There will be a day of justice, don’t get me wrong, and we need to be clear about that with the world. Beyond that, I don’t think there is much we can force.

Now, do you suppose if we drop our defenses on things that don’t really matter, we might have a chance to reconcile with our neighbor? I’m thinking our chances have greatly improved.

What if they don’t? We’re required to do our best to live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18). What if, despite our best efforts, we don’t see change. What if our nation continues the spiral to self-destruction?

Look, the early church was persecuted – hard. God knew it would. He still allowed it. And what happened? The church spread across the globe. Might we be entering a season of extreme persecution because of our biblical beliefs? Certainly, and that’s OK. It is ok, isn’t it? Of course it is.

Let’s just not confuse our wants with our needs. There is a cost to following Jesus. Let me sign off with this passage:

Luke 9:57-62 57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Father, my life is in your hands. Do as pleases you. Amen.

Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers

Photo by Hello Lightbulb on Unsplash

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