(This is Veterans Day in America, a day we express our appreciation to those who have served in our armed forces. I am grateful that America as a nation has stood for the liberation of oppressed people, and not the enslavement of free people. Our military is under the leadership of our elected leaders, and my article today is written in what is an increasing disappointment with our political leaders and their lack of character.)
When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.
2 Samuel 23:3-4
The young boy who had killed the giant Goliath, the young man who had lived several years of his life in hiding from the wrath of King Saul, the growth man who had united Israel and ruled for a generation, the poet and prophet whose psalms inspired the worship of the Nation – that man, David, grew old and died. But he left us his “last words” and these words, as “last words” do, summed up the final thought of his life, his final legacy for his nation and for the world.
The single thing that was most missing in government people of his day is also, I am convinced, most often missing in our day – the character of the rulers themselves, and namely a commitment to God that is greater than their commitment to their own egos. Very rare that one – in society at large or in politics. Since we choose our politicians from the general public, by common sense we should be concerned with the general moral deterioration of society. When morality is seen as a completely private thing, something that has no repercussions for anyone other than the single individual, not only is reality being denied but society is being harmed. But this is the world we live in today, where the old morals are discarded, viewed as too strict, archaic, judgmental, and passe. From this society we are preparing the moral make-up of the political pond whereby we will “fish” for our leaders. And the general deterioration of the moral fabric of the world as a whole can only result in a lesser chance of finding people of true integrity and character who are able to lead.
Currently in America there is an incredible amount of deception on all sides. Those who claim to be “conservative” are often just mean. Those who claim to be “progressive” are egoists. The great need of our nation is for people of true integrity that is derived from their faith in God. David wrote, “he rules in the fear of God,” meaning that for rulers or politicians there should be some One, namely God, that the ruler feared more than anyone or anything else, and this fear created conscience, moral boundaries, and an ethos for his decisions and policies.
I am not so naive as to say that all that matters is that the politician be a Christian, or a Conservative Christian (whatever that means), because part of integrity is the honesty of knowing when you are not up to the job. Frankly I am uncomfortable with many who burst their way into the political scene in the name of their faith, or who play the religious card too strongly. Anyone who wears his Christianity on his shoulder rubs me the wrong way as well – and I am a pastor! True faith has a public and a private nature about it and when these two are abused, when someone says, “Vote for me for I am a believer like you,” I strongly suspect that (a) he is insecure about his position on the issues and (b) he is not a believer “like me.” I sense more deception in words like that than genuineness and character.
Character is not just seen in standing for what is right, but in the willingness to get along with others – respecting their right for their own ideas and values and trying to work with them. But true character can only bend so far. In the national debate about healthcare, both sides have so muddied the water that no practical sense can be made by the general public.
But I am a pastor, not a politician, and only truly want to make two points. The first is the importance of morality in society at large – this is our concern, all of us and each of us. Not a single one of us can escape feeling the pain and reality of living in an immoral society, and this nonsensical idea that we can let people do whatever they want, whenever or however they want to do it, and that it will not effect anyone else, is a danger to each of us. Hardness, insensitivity, hatred, a sense by any group in our society that “we are above the law” – these things impact us all.
But also, as I said, since we “fish” for our leaders from this pond, if the pond is corrupt, so will the leaders be. This means that best thing we can do for our nation is to be people of character and to teach and preach morality. This can never become old or outdated, for it is the bedrock of every civilization. When we speak of America “coming back to God” this is what we mean. America needs a revitalized Christian faith – more churches, more Christian homes, more Christian institutions – that results in true character and righteousness and morality being experienced among its people.The best thing we can do for any nation is to win someone to Christ – even better if we win more.
I am increasingly disturbed by the insistence on the acceptance of homosexuality by the News media as the standard for a truly unbiased person. Anyone who takes the Bible seriously cannot, by this definition, be a moral person. But this is the type of perversion that is going on in society, with people deciding their own morality, selecting what they want and rejecting other things without considering the clear standard of God’s word. The Christian perspective, no matter how kind it should be phrased, and how tolerant, patient, and loving we are toward those seeking to come out of a homosexual life style, cannot be accepting of the practice of homosexuality. To insist otherwise is to deprive a Christian of his rights of faith.
And the second thought, we need to pray for our leaders. I believe intense prayer should also be made for members of the press, for they play a significant role in forming the policies of our nation – perhaps too significant a role. The words of Scripture on prayer have often come back to stir my thoughts, “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2). It is not enough to talk about these things, we must pray to God. So I invite you to join me now, praying for our leaders, and not just the leaders of America but world leaders in general, for peace, for prosperity, for justice, for morality, for spiritual revival among God’s people.