The video footage everyone is talking about since Friday has been a tipping point in more than one way. Setting the political mess aside, it has been encouraging to see many Christian leaders wake from their slumber and silence. I pray that this will be a turning point in the life of the Church – the death of Christendom and a move to embracing our status as a church in exile. It’s a rude awakening to have no candidates that represent our position. Canada experienced it last year; now it’s America’s turn. The good news is that the Church thrives in situations like this.
The first step in awakening is repentance. I recently rediscovered Job 31, near the end of a frustrating discourse where Job’s friends were convinced that he had brought his immense suffering upon himself; surely it was because he had sinned in some area. So in chapter 31, Job searches his heart with an inventory of sins he had perhaps committed. His list provides a plum line for today’s culture and for us:
- Did I walk with falsehood and deceit?
- Did I covet or stray into sin?
- Did I conceal my sin and guilt as a hypocrite?
- Did I look lustfully at women?
- Did I commit adultery in thought or deed?
- Did I deny justice to employees?
- Did I defraud or mistreat my laborers?
- Did I take resources or land without payment?
- Did I ignore the needs of or fail to share with the poor, homeless, widow or orphan?
- Did I use influence to take advantage of the unfortunate?
- Did I put trust in money or boast about great wealth?
- Did I worship anything but God?
- Did I rejoice at my enemy’s misfortune or curse a rival?
- Did I fail to provide hospitality for strangers far from home?
In applying this list to today’s context, it’s clear that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both have much to repent of. No doubt Gary Johnson and Jill Stein do as well. Likewise for Justin Trudeau, Tom Mulcair and Rona Ambrose in Canada. No politician measures up.
For that matter, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have much to repent of. No party platform is “Christian;” none align with this plum line. Both embrace what the Bible calls sin.
But God doesn’t call nations and leaders to repent as much as he calls believers to repent. The U.S. and Canadian Church have much to repent of. One of our sins is ranking sins and assigning weights to certain ones as if all don’t fall short of the standard (Rom 3:23). This list is obviously not exhaustive, but it is pretty thorough, and it is a scathing rebuke of America’s view of culturally-acceptable sins.
Another North American sin is to put our trust in anything but the Lord our God (Ps 20:7). No political party or leader is our hope. God alone is our saviour, anchor and confidence.
Yet another is to fail to stand in the breach for our nation. In Ezekiel 22:30, God finds fault with the believers of the day when none advocate for mercy for their nation. God is therefore not dissuaded from destroying them. Job was a righteous man who offered sacrifices every day for his kids, in case they had “sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5). Likewise, in the first chapter of Nehemiah, this cupbearer and soon-to-be-governor confessed the sins of his people and then owned his own part in the nation’s sin (Neh 1:5-7).
As Martin Luther put it in the first of his 95 theses,
When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
Christians, we need to repent, plead for our nations and stand in the breach for them.
Part 2: A time for repentance
Part 3: An opportunity for Millennials