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Looking For Hope | America The Babylon

Looking for Hope | America the Babylon

Much has been said about the upcoming presidential election both by political pundits and astute cultural observers. Many in the Christ Community family have asked me whether they should vote for either of the two major presidential candidates. It is not my place to offer any partisan advice, but let me transparently say I, too, am struggling to know what to do in the voting booth. Whether you decide to vote or not vote for a presidential candidate, I would encourage you to be prayerful and well informed.

I don’t know what the outcome of the election will be, but as apprentices of Jesus, may we keep in mind that what matters most is not who will be sitting in Air Force One, but the Sovereign God who is seated in the heavens. While the outcome of the election does matter, what matters more is that the God of the Heavens is not wringing His omnipotent hands, nor is He fretting that things are out of control. We need not be anxious. We need not be taunted by worry or fear. We can trust God completely with our lives and our nation. We are not in control, but God is very much in control. We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future.   

I do believe that the presidential election is an opportunity for each of us to grasp a clearer understanding of where our society is and where it seems to be heading. I recently re-read former Yale Law Professor Robert Bork’s prescient book, Slouching Toward Gomorrah. Though written twenty years ago, Bork’s accurate description of America in 2016 is both stunning and sobering. He writes, “Radical individualism, radical egalitarianism, omnipresent and omni-competent government, the politicization of culture, the battle for advantages through politics shatter a society into fragments of isolated individuals and angry groups. Social peace and cohesion decline as loneliness and alienation rise. Life in such a culture can come close to seemingly intolerable.” (p. 11)

Bork makes a compelling case showing how the radically secular seeds sown in the 1960’s are now producing many of the putrid fruits in our American society. While Robert Bork looked to the renewal of local churches and faith communities to provide some hope to turn the tide, he is realistic about the strong likelihood of the cultural triumph of a progressive secularism. He writes, “We must, then, take seriously the possibility that perhaps nothing will be done to reverse the direction of our culture, that the degeneracy we see about us will only become worse.” (p. 332)

As I observe our distasteful political theatre, irresponsible journalistic propaganda, growing government coercion and corruption, increasing economic indebtedness, social incivility and polarization, as well as violence in the streets, I am driven to my knees to pray for a spiritual awakening. From my limited vantage point, our nation is looking less like America the Beautiful and more and more like America the Babylon.

How timely it is for us as a church family to be making our way through the Old Testament book of Daniel [see our sermon series]. Like Daniel, we are facing a culture that is increasingly hostile to our Christian faith. Like Daniel, we are living in exile. As those living in exile, we need wisdom in walking that fine line between a proper commitment to our beloved nation and plunging off the edge in a free fall of an idolatrous nationalism. We are called to pray for our government leaders, no matter who they are, to love and serve our neighbors, and to be good and responsible citizens of our nation, but let’s remember our ultimate loyalty is our citizenship in the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   

In spite of our cultural decline, I am actually very hopeful these days. As followers of Jesus, we have been given a moment of great opportunity to share with others the hope we have in Christ. Many people of faith and non-faith recognize our cultural decline and the growing challenges we are facing. Many of our dear neighbors, coworkers, and classmates are fearful and anxious and are looking for hope. Will we point them to the good news of the gospel where true hope is found? Could it be in this darkening cultural hour, the Spirit of God is moving in powerful ways to renew the church and bring a spiritual awakening to our needy land? I don’t know, but 28 years ago, Christ Community was birthed to that end, and I continue to pray to that end with great fervency of heart. Will you join me in fervent prayer that we who are the Bride of Christ might be salt and light in this darkening hour?

How encouraging to know light shines brightest when it’s darkest.   

Tom Nelson

Tom Nelson

Senior Pastor

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. I have languished over this election season and especially the awkward position it places us as Christians. Disappointing it has been to see the response of the Christian community. At the same time it has brought home to me the heart of the gospel, what it means to be Christian. We so quickly judge while at the same time are called to discern and be wise. Only our great God can take us down that path. But I am heartened that you would write a piece that is so insightful, so full of the message of hope in this time of darkness, hope that being part of the kingdom of God gives. I, too, have found the study of Daniel helpful just now. Thank you for this writing, it comes out of your time with the Lord, making me again thankful for being a part of Christ Community.

  2. Thank you, Pastor Tom. I am thrilled to receive this email and your prayerful, thoughtful leadership. I have only recently returned to Christ Community (Brookside campus), and so appreciate this message, the teaching on Sunday and it’s application. God bless you, God’s church throughout the world and these, our precious and much blessed, United States.

  3. Tom:

    Thanks for this article about the election. I just did a broadcast a couple of days ago in which I shared with our listeners something that I thought was quite clarifying regarding how to vote on November 8.

    I acknowledged that the two choices of the two major parties are both very flawed individuals. So, what helps clarify things for me greatly is to toss both of those individuals out, try to erase their images, and their behavior past and present, from my mind as I consider what to do. Instead, what I suggested is that those who are in doubt and haven’t made up their mind as to whether to vote or who to vote for, should look closely at the platforms of the two major parties.

    To illustrate that, I printed out excerpts from both the Republican and the Democratic platforms that morning, after searching for the sections that have to do with the life issue and the Supreme Court. I read some of the text from each platform on the air in order to contrast them.

    The contrasts are stark! Also, as I was sitting at my desk preparing for that broadcast, I thought I would do a word search for the word Creator. The word creator appears four times in the Republican platform. Three out of those four happen to be in uppercase. When searching the Democratic platform for the word creator, it comes up twice. Both times it is in lowercase and refers to the creator of art or music. Interesting little bit of trivia.

    I closed that broadcast by repeating what I had heard from Anne Graham Lotz when she did a recent interview on Fox News about her latest book. She essentially said it is our duty and our obligation to vote, and that we need to be a obedient to that.

    I’d be interested to hear what you think.

    Again, I appreciate your leadership very much.

    Eben

    1. Thanks Tom.
      It’s a tough decision but I decided it is my duty as a Christian and as a retired coal miner to vote. Not one of our presidents have been without sin – just like me. God has given us a choice.
      Chuck McCulloh

  4. Pastor Nelson,

    This letter was forwarded to me by a dear friend, Marcia P, as a response to something I had forwarded to several friends regarding the sureness of the sovereignty of God now as from the beginning. Your heartfelt words also encouraged me that He is seated in Heavenly places and He alone has the future in His hands. That there are still watchmen, such as yourself, blowing the trumpet and reminding us to listen to our God and obey Him brings me hope.
    I wish I was able to follow you in your study of Daniel. It sounds as if it is a profitable study for a time such as this. I worship in a different congregation but know that your church is one that follows the Lord.
    Currently, my personal study is in the book of Jeremiah and as I read, I often find myself weeping alongside the ancient prophet. My fervent prayer recently comes from Jeremiah 6: 16-“Thus says the Lord, Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. (But they said, “We will not walk in it.”). I am praying daily that I will see the ancients paths and walk in them. I pray the same for our nation.
    Your words are much needed in this time and I thank you. Although not a member of your church, I am with you as a member of the body of Christ. I look forward to praising God together with you and your congregation in times ahead.
    Kathi

  5. Tom, thank you for your thoughtful post. I am a person who will definitely be voting in the upcoming election. Election are always between two candidates who are flowed individuals. The choices this year are no exception. However, one candidate will give us supreme court judges that will uphold the constitution and preserve our 1st and 2nd amendment rights and potentially overturn Roe v Wade. The other will appoint judges that will future denigrate the 1st and 2nd amendments and strengthen the courts position on other unbiblical positions on marriage and sexual relationships. While one is a boastful business man the other is a criminal. God has used all kinds of kings to protect His people in the past.
    Bob

  6. Thank you, Pastor Tom. We – I – need the reminder every day that we are sojourners in this land looking forward to one day arriving at our true home with the Lord. Yet, while we are here, we are exhorted repeatedly to patiently endure suffering together and do good together.

    As Rod Dreher tweeted after the third (and mercifully final) debate, voting for either of the two major parties is like having to choose between strychnine or arsenic. The political choice we have will inevitably result in a darker world, and now we are powerless to stop that darkness from arriving. At least two things come from this. First, I don’t have to hasten the coming of the darkness by voting for a candidate who will surely usher it in. I can opt out of the false dilemma of voting for one of the two major party candidates. Sure, I won’t be voting for a winner, but I can vote for someone worthy of the office nonetheless. Though I’ve heard many resist this suggestion, I would ask: What will help your witness for Christ more? Supporting someone can win but whose vicious character, lack of competence, and/or misguided governing philosophy will harm the nation, or supporting someone who won’t win but who would likely reflect a virtuous governing authority effectively? Seems like an easy decision when I look at it that way.

    Second, and more importantly, this darkness is multilayered: political, yes, but deeper than that it is cultural, moral, and, ultimately, spiritual. Politics is just the final symptomatic evidence that something disordered lies beneath. God has brought the church into being for this very purpose: to bring life to that which is dead, to shine light onto the dark hearts that need to see, and to season the world with the truth, goodness, and beauty of Jesus so the world will long for Him. When I realize that we have been brought into being for this very purpose for such a time as this, I feel courage! Frankly, I think the coming days are going to require more courage than any of us has had to exercise in our public lives before because the world around us is increasingly intolerant and even hostile to our beliefs, our liberties, and even us as people. We need each other more now than ever before. It’s the only way not only to survive the dark times ahead, but also to shine ever more brilliantly to the world who needs to see the Way.

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