By the time this column is published, the midterm elections of 2014 will be almost over. There will doubtlessly be runoffs to determine the eventual winner in some states, and the television and broadcast stations in those states will reap continued political advertising dollars. For most Americans, however, the never-ending political season will transition towards 2016.
And on and on it goes. Winners and losers, victory parties and concession speeches, but what will really change?
Some friends on occasion declare that voting is useless—nothing ever changes. Things just seem to go from bad to worse. I certainly understand the sentiment. What we need to do, according to one friend, is to vote against every incumbent. That reminds me more of a child’s temper tantrum than a substantive solution.
Our problem is not with our politicians; it is with humanity. Humans are not good by nature. As the apostle reminds us, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10–11 [ESV]). We have politicians who promote evil legislation, legislation allowing the taking of an unborn child’s life, institutionalizing same-sex “marriage,” establishing state-sponsored gambling, etc. These politicians, however, were not spontaneously generated. Neither did they forcibly take their offices. They were duly elected by the American people, most of whom are unrighteous, do not understand, and do not seek God.
We live in a fallen world, a world that is at root unrighteous. The secularists and liberal “Christians” would have us believe that humans are basically good. The Bible reveals what we experience: humans are not basically good. We are basically self-centered, self-promoting, self-indulging, and self-concerned. All sin, so it seems, has self at the center.
While we can grumble about our fellow citizens, the question is whether we ourselves seek God. This is not to say that elections are unimportant and we should bail out of our civic responsibility to vote for the best candidates on the ballot. It is to remind of us what the basic issues are, and the basic issues begin with us.
Our country’s woes are not centered upon our president’s politically convenient “evolving” on the issue of same-sex “marriage” or his insistence of a woman’s right to an abortion. While the promotion of depravity by our broadcast media and the legitimizing of almost every form of depravity by one of our major political parties are unhelpful to the state of our nation, these are not our fundamental problems. These things are simply the result of our problem. We as a people have rejected God. We will not have him reign over us.
And yet our responsibility as Christians is not to change the hearts of others. We are impotent to do that. The Holy Spirit alone can change hearts. We can and should evangelize others, pointing out that sin is self-destructive, both in time and in eternity. We should point people to our crucified and holy Savior. We can and should pray that God would be pleased to saved our families and friends and neighbors.
Also, we should try to help our unbelieving neighbors understand how sinful actions harm our people. This is a “common-grace” aspect to our being good neighbors. Non-Christians can grasp that things which contribute to the breakup of the family do great harm to one’s society.
The reality, however, is that real change begins with us. Have we repented of our sins and believed upon Christ? Do we desire his presence? Do we yearn to know him? Do we follow his Word? Do we ourselves seek God? “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6–7 [ESV]).