As Christians, there are many things that can motivate us to vote for one candidate or another in a national election. In this series, I am looking at some of the hidden motivations that might influence us unintentionally. One of those things, that I looked at in the last post, is our comfort. Another hidden motivation is fear.
Many Christians in America are concerned about the moral decline they see in our nation. They are concerned that God might choose to punish the nation if we do not try to change our ways. Is not the God of the Bible a God of justice and mighty wrath? How many great cities in the Old Testament suffered from God’s righteous fury? Nineveh, Tyre and Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah. The prophets sent out warnings to the nations of Edom, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, and Cush about God’s impending judgment. They warned Israel and Judah also.
“Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world, and all that comes out of it! The Lord is angry with all nations; his wrath is upon all their armies. He will totally destroy them, he will give them over to slaughter.” (Isaiah 34:1-2)
In the New Testament, as well, we see God’s promise of judgment: “Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” (Revelation 19:15)
It is only natural we should be afraid for our own nation, but we have to be careful about what that fear motivates us to do. I'm afraid that, for the most part, people who want America to be more obedient to God want this because of what they, themselves, have to lose.
We think that if America ever degrades morally so far as to get God really angry, God is likely to pour out his wrath on us. We might be conquered by another nation, weakened by natural disasters or diseases, or destroyed by our own mistreatment of the environment or scientific advances. Everything we have here we could lose, including our security, our freedom, and our material possessions. Isn’t that a good reason to try to change America? Shouldn’t we try to make laws which are pleasing to God so he will not take away the things we treasure?
If this is your fear, then consider the words of Jesus: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a pearl of great price that would cause someone to be willing to sell everything he or she had in order to possess it (Matthew 13:44-46). He told the story of a rich fool who spent all his time building storehouses for his goods on earth, only to die without enjoying them (Luke 12:16-21). He advised a wealthy young man to sell all he had and give to the poor to gain a treasure in heaven (Mark 10:17-27). He encouraged us not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear, but to seek first the kingdom of God “and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:25-33).
Jesus did not want us to be afraid of what we might lose on this earth. He wanted us to give up everything for him.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:34-36)
What we stand to lose should not be a motivating factor in our decision about what is best for America. We’ll have to come up with something better than that.
Tomorrow – Part 4: Concern for Others
Most of the posts in this series are excerpts from my book, Separate for a Reason, which will be released next month. If you would like to read an advance copy of the book and hear my full argument in favor of separation of church and state in America, you can join my book launch team here or send me a message through my Contact page.
What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.