My title probably leads you to guess, “Because God is still sovereign?” Yes true. The truth should not cause us to over-look this answer, give lip service to His reign under our breath, while we continue to worry or even complain about the elections. Either Ms. Clinton or Mr. Trump will be the President of the United States of America. God sits on His throne over the universe. Many of us need to swallow that pill, sit on it, smoke a pipe over it, then tell the world. No President thwarts His throne, the return of Christ, or the New Heavens and Earth.
But God’s sovereignty is not the only reason why I embrace either candidate. Maybe I’m wrong, but here is how I interpret people’s outrage. “Either president represents the moral decline of America.” “We’re abandoning Christ and no longer a God-fearing nation.” (Now of course, this presupposes we were ever truly a God-fearing nation; many seem to have confused 1950’s “Leave it to Beaver” culture with biblical Christianity). There are many reasons to embrace living in a godless nation. The following blog can be summarized briefly. True Christ-like character shines in a dark world.
When everyone does what is right in their own eyes, Christ flourishes. When there are no fake Christians, those who walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel are easy to see. When God calls believers, He attracts them to the light. God’s elect will be drawn to the Gospel and our character will lead them to the truth. In fact, this is the environment Paul and the apostles lived in during the first century. How did the church do in a godless nation? It flourished.
Jesus says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16). Our works should reflect His character. In the context, Jesus tells the disciples they are witnesses for the Gospel to the world, “a city set on a hill.” Our works validate His message. Some will respond, “evangelism requires words, you’re saying our works alone will lead people to Christ.”
No, I’m saying our lives validate and prove our words true. We cannot neglect either words or works. So think about our culture and godly characteristics. There are four characteristics a Christian possesses distinguishing the true Gospel: humility, love, forgiveness, and grace.
An unbeliever’s motives and actions all boil down to one characteristic: selfishness. Now, I’m not saying unbelievers cannot show acts of humility, sacrifice, and service, but the Bible says they will ultimately act with selfish motives. At the core of every person is their object of worship. Believers worship the Lord, placing His will above our own. Unbelievers do not have the ability to worship the Lord without the heart being regenerated. Romans says, “they do not honor Him as God or give thanks” (1:21). Ultimately they do what they do to honor themselves.
The world says, “pursue your own desires.” “Do what feels right to you.” “Every man is right in his own eyes.” “You are your own god.” “Who are you to tell me what to do?” “You are the most important person in your life.” “You have an obligation to make yourself happy.”
God defines humility, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:3-5).
God tells believers to imitate Christ being humble by focusing on other’s needs and considering others as more important than ourselves. “You are more important than me.” There is a HUGE difference between “If he doesn’t make you happy, you can divorce him” and “You should seek what is better for him and put your personal preferences aside.” God calls us to consider what is more important to others. A Christian, living this way, exemplifies the Gospel in a visual way. Letting someone in on the highway is a nice act. Constantly considering our coworkers, family, spouse, and neighbors while serving them exemplifies our Savior. I can justify you letting me onto the highway with, “He did his good deed.” Over time, I will have no rational explanation for why I am more important to you. At some point, I will be forced to realize, I am not humble, you are. You say you’re a Christian and give me the Gospel, I believe it.
Christ’s love set against the backdrop of a prideful, selfish, unloving culture magnifies the beauty of the Gospel. When everyone is selfish only thinking about himself or herself, the Christian becomes easier to distinguish and the truth becomes so much more clear. Instead of, “he’s nice because that’s what our culture does.” It’s he thinks of others because he loves Christ.
For a believer, love is not, what pleases me; purely an emotion; what makes me happy; and/or sex. Love is an action. Biblical love is countercultural. In the movies love is proven through sexual activities. A Christian shows love by serving one another, believing the best, being patient, kind, enduring, and rejoices in the truth. It is not jealous, does not brag, act unbecomingly, arrogantly, seek its own, or tally up wrongs suffered. These are diametrically opposed pictures. One is selfish, the other is humble. When someone loves you despite your failures, it encourages you. People are prone to love when there is self-profit. Believers love because Christ loved us even though we didn’t love Him. People are prone to love when a person is like minded. The Christian loves others regardless of his or her personal beliefs, convictions, or actions. The difference is stark, vast, immeasurable, but shows people the same love Christ shows us bringing integrity to our gospel message.
Forgiveness is foreign to this culture. We live in a world that justifies its sins, wrongs committed against others, and selfish pursuits. When unbelievers wrong someone they come up with excuses for why the action isn’t that bad, he or she deserves it, blame shift, or often seeks forgiveness with some kind of restorative action. In a world where “everyone makes mistakes,” we set ourselves apart as different (and godly) when we say to a person, “I was wrong, sinned against you, and will you please forgive me?”
To simply say, I was wrong and you suffered my wrong is weird. But the Gospel is not worldly. It’s as weird as God forgiving us — rebellious sinners — traitors who rejected His throne and sought to rule our own life. Yet He died for us, forgives us, and makes us His family. That is weird. The oddness of wanting to be at peace with others distinguishes the Gospel and validates our message.
Grace flies in the face of our economics and culture. Want an iPad, earn it. Want food, buy it. Want a promotion, work hard and climb the corporate ladder. Need a shirt, purchase it. Need, need, need, purchase, work, obtain. Grace says, “I give you what you don’t deserve out of the kind intention of my will.” In today’s world, you make a mistake, and you get fired. Your mistake is public, you get ostracized. In God’s world, you make the worst mistake possible as an unbeliever, you worship someone else, and God saves you. That is scandalous. God saves us because of the kind intention of His will. Undeserved. Mercy. Undeserved. Inheritance in heaven. Undeserved. Holy, justified, and made right. Undeserved gift. When Christians show undeserved love, kindness, and service towards others, we show grace. That is completely counter-cultural.
I welcome the new age. I don’t think it will be easy. I anticipate suffering, trials, and hardships. But I know in this climate, the Gospel shines bright. I know a flashlight works better in the dark than it does in manufactured light. So I know, when the world is dark and we are light, the truth shines forth.