This is the week of the Minnesota Caucuses, when Republicans and Democrats will give their preference for the nominees from their parties for November’s election. This will happen on Super Tuesday, when 11 other states will hold their primaries. It’s an important day in what has been an unpredictable and chaotic election season.
We’ve seen an avowed socialist run surprisingly strong among young people. The frontrunner of one of the parties is a corrupt manipulator from New York who for thirty years has used the power of government to enrich themselves. Actually, make that the frontrunners in both parties. It’s funny because it’s true.
Joking aside, we know that some of you are planning to caucus on Tuesday night, and as pastors we encourage more of you to be active in the political process. A political process in which Christians have an opportunity to influence society for good is a great blessing and an opportunity. But as you caucus, or as you watch and observe the rest of this circus unfold, I want to remind you of a few things.
First, remember that the most potent political act that you will do this week is not caucusing on Tuesday. The most potent political act is happening right now, as we gather as God’s people, spiritually united to all of God’s people around the world, to honor God as God, to give thanks for the gospel of Jesus, and to remind ourselves that our true citizenship is in heaven. The most important and potent political act that you do, this week and every week, is worshiping the living God in spirit and in truth with his saints.
This orients our hearts and minds so that we don’t walk, vote, and engage in politics in the way that the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. A few weeks ago, Justice Antonin Scalia died. He was a towering figure on the Supreme Court, a conscientious Christian, and a man who dedicated his entire career to the simple and vital principle that words mean what their authors intended them to mean. In a world where people love to twist words to suit their desires and get the result they want, Scalia courageously, charitably, and with a great deal of wit defended the integrity of words and their meaning.
He had many memorable quotes in his speeches and opinions. One of my favorites is this: “God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools ... and he has not been disappointed…If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”
Scalia’s death two weeks ago raised the stakes for this election. The next president will appoint his successor, and potentially more Justices. Religious liberty, freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms, the potential to finally reverse Roe vs. Wade, and countless other important issues hang in the balance. To turn from the gravity of Scalia’s death and the Supreme Court to the circus show of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is enough to throw one into a panic. This is why worship matters.
In the year that Justice Scalia died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple. The death of Justice Scalia did not interrupt the angelic choir singing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory.”
As you caucus or observe the results this week, remember: don’t turn politics into a religion like the Gentiles do. Don’t put your trust in a son of man in whom there is no salvation. Remember that when the rulers and authorities and candidates gather together to throw off the law of God, he who sits in heaven laughs. And therefore, so can you.
Finally, remember the unborn this Tuesday, and remind your fellow citizens of the dignity of every human life. They will have no voice this week if we do not give it to them. Remember that our rights and liberties come from God, not from government, and that our aim in voting is to secure those rights, even for people who seem determined to throw them away. Remember that leaders must be self-controlled, sober-minded, and trustworthy, hating a bribe and turning away from evil.
This reminds us of our need to confess our sins, so let’s seek the Lord together.
Prayer of Confession
Our Father and God, when we see the caliber of our candidates this year: the obvious corruption, the constant lying and manipulation, the massive egos, the economic insanity, the lust for power, the selfish ambition, the childishness, vulgarity, and vileness of speech—we have one thing to confess: they represent us well. The gaudy spectacle that is before our eyes is not alien to America; it is America. When we view the circus show, the dishonesty, fraud, the grasping and clawing after power, we are looking in a mirror. Our politicians have unclean lips, because we are a people of unclean lips. We are getting the leaders that we deserve.
What’s more, Father, as your covenant people, we have joined this circus. We have trampled our integrity in order to be close to power. We have succumbed to worldliness and find many of our fellow Christians wallowing in the mud and defending the indefensible. Forgive us, O God, for our great political sins. Forgive us for our anger that darkens our mind. Forgive us for our anxiety, as we watch our society come unglued. Forgive us for our despair, and our defeatism that wants to just take our ball and go home. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, with love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control. Be our God, and help us to be your holy people.
We know that if we in the church regard sin in our own midst or in our own hearts, our prayers will be ineffectual. So we confess our individual sins to you now. . . .