Saturday, April 2, 2022

In Context: Value for a self-governed People

2022 is a U.S. mid-term election year. Americans are correct and do well to take stock of the country, and compare how well their governments are punishing those who do evil and praising those who do good (Romans 13:3-4, 1 Peter 2:14). If they are, reelection of officeholders may be in order, and if they're not, electing others to office instead may be wise.

This year's election may not be “the most important election of our lifetimes.” (We've had several of those in the last decade or two.) It could, however, be one of the most contentious.

Pollsters make a living measuring the level of comity or contention among the people. Questions about the national mood, direction of the country, approval of the President, and approval of Congress are never in short supply. UPI recently reported on a Gallup poll showing “The job approval rating for the U.S. Congress remained low in March with 21% of Americans approving of lawmakers' performance.”

The question is, How useful is it to “approve” or “disapprove” of Congress?

Does expressing a negative opinion about Congress provide value to a self-governed People? Does communicating with a pollster falsely satisfy the urge to take more meaningful concrete action?

For people of faith, What is the relationship between approval or disapproval and seeking the Lord in prayer? If we have already reached a judgment of disapproval, can we still go to the Lord in faith that He can change hearts?

We can learn from responses of how Jesus and Paul responded to a high priest, especially when physical confrontation was involved:

When a high priest asked Jesus about his disciples, he answered “Why do you ask Me? Ask (witnesses).” A nearby officer struck him and said, “Do you answer the high priest like that?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?” (John 18:19-23).

When a high priest heard Paul justify himself, he ordered those standing nearby to strike him on the mouth. Paul began to fire back saying, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” Those standing nearby asked, “Do you revile God's high priest?” Paul was immediately humble and contrite saying, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” (Acts 23:1-5).

In both cases, neither spoke evil or continued to speak evil in recognition of the position of high priest. Paul may have had a point about hypocrisy, but he kept his own integrity even if he didn't think the high priest was keeping his.

Congress is a fragile institution. It is a blessing from God insofar as we are thankful for it. If we only join the 76 percent in calling down condemnation on it, God may not have it endure. It's replacement would not be a freedom upgrade.

We would do well not to speak evil of Congress, the President and all of the “rulers of your people.” The same goes for We the People. If we have a problem with someone—in power or not—we should go to that person and address it directly. If someone is acting with power contrary to God's ways, address it with them. If they change, praise the Lord. If not, vote for someone else.

But to do nothing other than speak evil of leaders in the Nation is neither a spiritual nor political solution for anything.

Skip the pollsters or “approve” for the sake of the institution. Take matters to the Lord, to the leaders directly, and to the real poll with your vote that actually counts.

Father, it's so easy for one-way media to send us emotional messages that stir up anger and fear against those You've put in place to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. May we listen to Your Word and respond as you would have us respond in this difficult and humbling season for our Nation. Open our eyes and ears to understanding Your purposes for why You have each of us exactly where you have us right now, and the relationships each of us has among the People. May we not see government and public policy as irrelevant to the Gospel, You, and Your Word, but as doors and windows by which you would have us point people to Yourself for their salvation, Your glory, and for eternal gain.

“Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

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