Looking to the State

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.”
(Psalm 146:3 (ESV)

 Last week I made the mistake of saying what I would be writing about this week – so, begging your pardon, you’ll have to stay tuned until next week to read on the topic of “What to do when you don’t like either candidate.”  My apologies.

Today, however, I will write about something that I was hoping to put off because it’s a little more difficult to write about, because it touches every heart and makes us rethink our relationship with the state.  All I ask is this, bear with me here in patience and graciousness as I try to work out a very pressing issue.

It will come as no surprise to you, hopefully, to know that I am politically conservative, and that I tend to vote Republican.  So, with eager anticipation I tuned in to the Republican National Convention.  I was encouraged by the new, young, republicans like Paul Ryan and Marc Rubio.  It took a while for me to pick my jaw up off the floor after Eastwood’s “Empty Chair” routine – odd, hilarious (and considering the outcome of first debate, prophetic).  But the moment that made me take a step back from the edge of the cliff came at the end of Gov. Chris Christie’s speech.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed his speech.  His combination of down home wisdom and brash disregard for political cronyism when confronting corruption and dysfunction in his state was refreshing.  His was an inspiring message – up until the very end.  Here’s the quote that went down like a sideways Dorito:

Listen, there is doubt and fear for our future in every corner of our country.  I have traveled all over the country, and I have seen this myself.  These feelings are real.  This moment is real, and it is a moment like this where some skeptics wonder if America’s greatness is over.  They wonder how those who have come before the before us had in the spirit and tenacity to lead America to a new era of greatness in the face of challenge, not to look around and say “Not me”, but to look around and say “Yes, me.” Now, I have an answer tonight for the skeptics and the naysayers, the dividers and the defenders of the status quo.  I have faith in us.

Up until that moment, I was ready to buy whatever the Governor was selling, but when I hear a politician talking about faith, instantly my “spidey-senses” start tingling – and not in a good way.

I get what Gov. Christie was saying; this Great Experiment of freedom that is America requires free people to work hard for success and to persevere through adversity.  We are free people in America, and we are to use our freedom to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.  If we are to maintain that American Exceptionalism which has led to so many advances that have benefited not just Americans but the world, we need leadership that will defend our freedoms; someone that will ask the necessary questions and make the hard decisions.

But is my faith in America?  Is my faith in the American people?  No, and it cannot, it must not, be.

John Calvin wrote that the heart is an idol factory, we are always looking to create a god of our own choosing in our own image.  Idolatry is anything that takes the place of God in our lives.  Think about the delicate balance you have created for yourself; just enough money in the checking account, a safe and reliable car, a reasonable peace at home, and a good job that provides for your needs.  If anyone of those things were to disappear, would your joy, your security, your hope for the future disappear as well?  Have the things of this world become an idol for you?

Now let’s take that to another level. Do you look to the State for your salvation?  We may not put it in those words, exactly, but the meaning is the same.  “If my candidate get’s elected, then things will be right again.”  “The government needs to do something about this problem in our society…” Have you found yourself saying these things?

When we place that State in the position of providing our hope and security for the future, we have fallen into Statolatry; we have made a god out of our political system, demi-gods out of our politicians, and we will be sorely disappointed.  The Psalmist said, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation” (Psalm 146:3).  Isaiah wrote the same, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt [or over to D.C.] for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD” (Isaiah 31:1)  Just this morning I heard a podcast from R.C. Sproul who said, “the minute we exalt any authority over the authority of Christ, we have committed treason against him, for his is the highest authority.”

Let us be careful not to become American-Christians; a people whose faith is so intertwined with our political system that we cannot speak the truth of God’s word because we are always at the breast of government dependency, whose eyes look first to Washington for help rather than to the heavens for our Savior.

Let us, rather, be Christians first, whose allegiance is to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Let us remember that our freedom has not been given to us by Congress, but by God in Jesus Christ (“For freedom Christ has set you free” Gal 5:1) – Congress’ responsibility is merely to protect those freedoms.  Let us work together to share the message of Christ, so that all may be set free in Him, and so that in that freedom, our nation may be blessed and our God may be praised.

Grace and peace be with you!

SDG

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About reveds

Occupation: Pastor, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Lennox, SD Education: BS - Christian Education, Sterling College; MDiv. - Princeton Theological Seminary Family: Married, with Four children. Hobbies: Running (will someday run a marathon), Sci-Fi (especially Doctor Who and Sherlock), Theater, and anything else my kids will let me do.
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One Response to Looking to the State

  1. Matt Filbert says:

    Well said Ethan! Really appreciated this post.

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