WARNING: This post is not our usual religiously tinged political analysis. This is pure Christian testimony.
I am amazed at how many people around me are still deciding to vote for Mitt Romney. I honestly don’t know anyone still thinking about voting for Obama. I know a lot of people that are going to vote for him, but their minds are made up – they are past the “think about it” stage. But Romney is a different story, it seems like so many know a vote for Obama is not a smart thing, but they are still hesitant to pull the lever for Romney.
These people seem to come in three groups. One group is those in total despair – they simply think it’s over. America in in inevitable and irreversible decline. We need to pack up the things and hide in the storm cellar. The second group are those that have a hard time voting for a Mormon. They know Romney is the right vote in purely secular reasoning, but they fear that voting for someone from a religion that they consider grossly errant is wrong. And finally there is the group we first learned of yesterday, the “Paleo-Evangelical“:
In Kidd’s definition on the Anxious Bench blog, paleo-evangelicals are Evangelicals who hold the GOP at arm’s length because they’re suspicious of American civil religion, they do not expect any political party to do much good, and they disagree with the party position on certain issues (such as war and immigration). Yet they tend to vote Republican because that party is less hostile, at least, to their convictions and priorities than the Democratic Party is.
For those in utter despair, I have one “word of testimony” and for the Paleos and those with Mormon issues I have another. Let’s start with those in despair. The daily devotional that I read comes from my friend Mark Roberts. This morning’s devotional speaks well to those in despair:
Psalm 12 begins with a dire description of a culture on the road to ruin: “[T]he godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth!” (12:1). In particular, the psalmist sees neighbors lying to each other and violence done to the helpless (12:2, 5). “[T]he wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land” (12:8). The bonds that hold society together are being severed as people lose the ability to determine right from wrong.
Sound familiar? Have you ever found yourself listening to the evening news, thinking that the godly are disappearing and the faithful have vanished from the earth? I know I have.
When things seem to keep on getting worse, many people throw up their hands in defeat. They figure they cannot make a difference in the world, so they choose to live for themselves and their momentary pleasures. Others sink into a pit of cynicism and negativity. Still others find the moral resolve to try and fight back, to stand for goodness in the face of mounting evil.
Scripture is clear that God’s people should be found in this last group, those who try to make a positive difference. But Psalm 12:1 reminds us that our starting point should not be ourselves. When we see life crumbling around us, our first response should be to cry out to God: “Help, O Lord!” The Hebrew word translated in verse 1 as “help” is, in fact, hoshi’a, the first part of the Hebrew expression we know as hosanna. Hoshi’a can also be translated as “save.” It’s a cry for God’s assistance, a recognition that God alone can save us from the mess we’re in.
After we turn to the Lord and seek his help, he may very well call us to participate in his work of making things right again. But instead of relying on our own strength, and instead of exhausting ourselves trying to right every wrong, we will respond to God’s call to focus on a particular need. Moreover, we will seek to address this need, to make right what is wrong, by the power of God at work within us through the Spirit.
OK, it’s not really my word of testimony, it’s Mark’s, but you get the point. God is in charge. No matter what – He can fix things. To despair is to place your faith in other than God. Which leads me to the word of testimony I have for the other groups.
Last Sunday I had dinner with two very devout Catholic friends in the Washington, D.C. area. They told a very moving story from their worship attendance that morning. (My wife and I attended Chapel at the Naval Academy that day – it was beautiful.) They told of a very new widow in their church. She came to church early and knelt before the alter in deep and painful prayer. They also told of a young man in their church suffering Down Syndrome to the point of severe inarticulateness. This young man is; however, enthusiastic about church and comes early every Sunday and sits near the front. My friends relayed that as the new widow’s prayers resolved into sobs, the young man with Down Syndrome stood up, walked over to her and simply hugged her. He had no words, he could not – he simply held her and made her feel loved.
There was no theology. The young man could not say anything even resembling theology, nor could he begin to understand it. But that young man was unquestionably God’s instrument in that situation. He gave that woman what she most needed in that moment – something that none of the wise and articulate thought to do.
And so, in these two “words” we see that God is in charge and that He often acts in ways and through people that defy our understanding and comprehension. You might want to consider that if you are still thinking about voting for Mitt Romney.