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For decades, Christians have been reluctant to get involved in politics. These Christians either don’t vote or when they do vote they do so in terms of what government can do for them. Government is seen as their earthly savior. They are more concerned about where their next flu shot is coming from rather than the appointment of judges who with one vote can turn the Constitution on its head.
There are many more Christians who have given up on politics after the election of Ronald Reagan didn’t bring in the millennium. And when Bill Clinton got elected twice, hopelessness set in. All that work, and for what? Christians who are experiencing political remorse are really suffering from a case of faulty theology. Political remorse is not new. Joshua went thorough a similar experience when he sent troops to Ai. He expected a victory. Israel won its first encounter with Jericho without a casualty. Why should the battle with Ai be any different? The spies thought Ai was weak enough that only “two or three thousand men need go up” (Josh. 7:3). Thirty-six Israelites were killed, and the rest were pursued and assaulted by the men of Ai with the result that “the hearts of the people melted and became as water” (7:5).
You know what the Israelites were thinking. “Maybe we should have stayed out of this political thing. We were at least safe when we were ghettoized beyond the Jordan.” There was even fear that things would get a lot worse once the “Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land” heard about the defeat (7:9). Joshua, voicing these concerns to God, did what today's political remorseful are recommending. “Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell on the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, both he and the elders of Israel” (7:7). In a word, he prayed . . . hard.
What did God tell him to do? “So the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them’” (7:11). In effect, God told Joshua to stop praying and act on the evil that brought them the defeat!
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Prayer is not a magical formula, an incantation that brings forth God like a genie from a bottle. Prayer is an admission of weakness. It is in weakness that God can best use us (2 Cor. 12:10). But true faith and trust are not exercised if we do not act on the belief that God will work for us even in our weakness. Prayer is not the end but the beginning of the work God has called us to do. J. I. Packer says it this way:
The Spirit does what he does. His supernaturalizing of our lives enables Christians, as a matter of fact, to do much for the Lord that they wouldn't be able to do otherwise. That's the whole doctrine of gifts and ministry. It's my part to see what God calls me to do, to ask the Lord to enable me to do it, then to get up off my knees and go confidently into action, watching to see what help I shall be given, and finally to give thanks for what the Spirit did in and through me.
There is sin in the Christian camp. Entire denominations support abortion and homosexuality or remain silent which is the same as giving support. Politicians, many who claim to be Christians, maintain that abortion should be a protected right. They’re “personally opposed” to abortion, but they can’t impose their personal morality on others. Are they personally opposed to slavery and racial discrimination? Sure they are. Would they vote for laws to stop them? Sure they would. If someone is personally opposed to abortion because abortion takes a human life, then a law prohibiting abortion is a moral necessity.
The sins of Achan—“the mantle of Shinar” (humanism) and “silver and gold” (mammon)—are the sins of the church. Many pastors are afraid of losing members and their money if they teach what the Bible says about the sins of abortion and homosexuality. Their sermons are humanistic in that they cater to man and his needs rather than God and His laws.
Prayer is a good and necessary practice. But after we fall on our face, let's be careful not to cover our ears. We might just hear God's voice say, “Rise up! Get up and vote! Get your mother to vote! Get your pastor to vote and to tell the congregation to vote! Vote in terms of what the Bible says about these issues. Vote as a son of Issachar would vote: ‘Men who understood the times with knowledge of what Israel should do’” (1 Chron. 12:32). This means being an informed voter. You cannot vote for someone who supports abortion and homosexuality. If you do not vote in this next election, you are sinning. If you vote as an uninformed voter, you are sinning.