Last night, I sat down with my absentee ballot and began coloring in the appropriate circles. I researched judges and various ballot proposals and cast my vote as wisely as I knew how. Then, I came to the top of the ballot. And, as I did, my emotions went from frustration to anger, discouragement to despair. How did we end up with here? How can these be our choices? I set the ballot aside to spend more time reflecting and praying about what to do. As I did, I couldn’t help but think of the children of Israel.
In the days of Samuel, Israel clamored for a king. In doing so, they set aside their full reliance on God and embraced the wisdom and power of man. God saw this for what it was, and told Samuel, “they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7, ESV). But, He goes on to have Samuel, “solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:9, ESV).
Subsequently, Samuel warns the people about all the things the king will do to them and take from them. And then he closes with this sobering word, “And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:18, ESV).
As I read that verse, I can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t describe where we are today. For years now, we believers have invested so much energy and effort into the political process. So much so in fact that in the eyes of many in our nation we are synonymous with politics and politicians. To be fair, many of our motives and causes are noble. It is important for us to be engaged in the process and know the issues. It is important for us to vote our values and our consciences. The things we value matter, and so does our participation.
But, I cannot help but wonder if we have trusted too much in people and politics. Could it be that we have so embraced the political processes and its promises that we have lost sight of God’s leading? Have we cried out so loud “give us a king” that we, like the people of Israel, have rejected God? Samuel’s warnings remind us of the danger found in completely surrendering ourselves to the power of people…and to people of power.
The reality is we have little to gain and everything to lose in such a capitulation. A new president is not going to bring the change we need. Nor will the Congress or the Statehouse. Again, it really matters who sits in these offices, but none of these individuals are capable of changing the human heart, and none of them are capable of stopping one from changing. Only God can truly change lives. Only He can transform us from the inside out through the hope that is found in Jesus.
So, with that said, what would happen if we put the same kind of passion and energy into sharing the gospel and living it out daily as we do into politics? How many lives would be touched by Jesus? How many would see what it really looks like to love your neighbor and to care for those in need? How many would grow to understand that all life is precious from the womb to the grave? How many would catch a glimpse of genuine racial reconciliation and social justice? How many would be impacted by radical generosity? How many would learn that love is more than the stuff of movies and music?
If we really poured ourselves into this kind of living, lives would be transformed and the world would be a vastly different place. Hearts and minds would be changed. The values we hold so dear might not be so foreign to so many. So, let us cry out “Give us a king!” But, let our king be King Jesus and let us live passionate lives for Him.