God Is In Control Is Not A Reason To Be Apathetic

Can we dialogue for a few minutes? This might be too much to ask, but is there any way we can put aside our political opinions, and agendas, and have a conversation between a pastor and normal, rational thinking people? Can we put away our MSNBC or FoxNews talking points and think for ourselves for a few moments?

By the way this is not a post to the church I pastor. I need to make that distinction because this post does not reflect Next Level Church, the staff, or anyone who is a part of the church. My blog is read by Christians who go to various churches. No matter what church you may go to I think we need to talk.

As I’m writing this the song, Slumber by Needtobreathe is blaring out of my computer speakers. The lyric that sticks out is, “Wake on up from your slumber. Baby, open up your eyes.”

As a Christian there is something that is bothering me and I will attempt to put it into words the best I possibly can.

I will get some things wrong. I will show my ignorance to politics. I will be wrong about something in this post. But the goal of this post is not to get you to agree, it’s to help you understand my frustration. Maybe together we can do something about it.

Here goes…

I hate politics. I really do. For every year since I turned 18 my political research extended to asking my dad who to vote for and then doing it. I’ve never wanted to get into politics or political debates. Watching political shows on TV is like black coffee to me. I know people have acquired a taste for it, and really like it, but it is so gag nasty to me. When I do try to choke it down it gives me a rumbly in my tumbly…if you know what I mean.

I’m writing about politics for a second day in row because there has been something on my heart since Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton received the votes necessary to become the Republican and Democrat nominees. Here’s what I might get really wrong. From my standpoint elected officials are a reflection of the people that put them in office.

We don’t have kings.

We have the opportunity to vote.

In our country we had lots of other options. We have the two we have now because they got the most votes.

Upcoming rabbit trail/rant alert.

Now, I was told it’s impossible for a third party to win this election. I’ve been told it’s stealing votes from Hillary and at the same time somehow it’s also stealing votes from Trump. Side note. Forgive my ignorance, but I’m not sure how this is impossible. It reminds of the TV show from many moons ago, MADE. They would take a teenager and give them a makeover to achieve their dream. One of the few episodes I watched was about a so called nerd who wanted to be Prom Queen. In the episode the idea was shared that there are way more nerds than popular kids. The nerds could rule the school, but they simply go along with the handful of popular people. If the nerds united they could have the Prom King and Queen every year. In this episode they united and had their very own “nerd” prom queen. It was magical. When I heard a third party can’t win this election, I thought about that episode of MADE. But this post is not an endorsement of a third party candidate. I digress. Rant over.

My point is we are in this situation because enough Americans showed up to put the two primary candidates in the position they are in.

Donald Trump and Hillary have not shown maturity in this election. The narrative that keeps being played is, Trump is awful…oh no…Hillary is worse…OH NO TRUMP IS WORSE. The goal of each person is simply to show how their opponents depravity is worse than theirs. I watched a lot of the last debate and I don’t understand what either candidate is going to do. I just know they both hate each other.

And we…collectively…we put them there.

Trump’s behind scenes comments about what he does and can do to women because he’s “a celebrity”  broke my heart. Have you read them? They are disgusting. But there have been a bazillion posts written by others about him and his comments.

The articles I’ve read about the corruption and behind the scenes antics of Clinton are shameful. I read one article that said if she was in office currently she would be impeached for her actions. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I read it on the Internet so it’s probably 100% factual. I kid, I kid.

The heart of this post is that we, collectively, as Americans, have put ourselves in a position where we have nominated two candidates who are both unfit for President and both look a lot like the culture.

We don’t have kings.

We have politicians who we vote into office. Often they flip flop on issues because…they don’t get elected if the people don’t like or support them. We impact what is important. If the “salt” and “light” of the world is silent someone will speak up. The politicians will become passionate about whatever “The people” who vote are passionate about.

And for way too many Christians the answer is, “God is in control.”

We say, “God is in control” as we don’t show up to vote. Over 50% of Christians don’t vote. I’m guilty of not caring. Politics isn’t my thing so I’ve often done nothing in the name of “God is in control.”

He is.

I believe it.

God is on the throne no matter who gets elected.

But we cannot sit back passively and then complain about the state of our country.

God was in control when the Israelites turned their backs on Him. God was in control when their poor choices led to their cities being destroyed and their men being carried off to slavery. God was in control then and He is in control now. But control doesn’t mean we won’t suffer because of poor choices.

If our elected officials are corrupt or crass or down right offensive it is a reflection of the people. And it’s so easy to say, “That’s not a reflection of me.” But when the “Light” doesn’t get involved because we have justified laziness as “God’s in control” then we do play a major part in what is happening in our country.

I love the quote by Eugene Peterson, “We live in a society that is in slavery. Maybe not institutionalized, but slavery, nonetheless. Freedom is on everyone’s lips. Freedom is announced and celebrated. But not many feel or act free. Evidence? We live in a nation of complainers and a society of addicts.” – Eugene Peterson

So what do we do? You and I cannot control anyone. We can’t force people to think like us, act like us, or vote like we do. We shouldn’t just sit back and complain.

What we can do is a take a long hard look in the mirror and see how we are contributing to the problem.

What double standards are we allowing in our life? Do we get offended by Trump’s statements and then laugh at incredibly crude comedians, listen to explicit music that degrades women, and look at porn when no one is looking over our smartphone? Are we ready to lynch Clinton as we are cheating on taxes, saying one thing in public and something else in private, stealing soda at Chipotle when we’ve asked for a free water cup? I see this happen all the time. Come on, America!

I personally was not surprised at Trump’s statements at all. In my opinion it fits his character. What is more surprising are the American’s who are quick to say, “That’s just guys being guys” or “That’s locker room talk.”

Please know, this is not meant to bash on my friends who are voting for Trump or Clinton. I am not writing a post to endorse anyone running for President. I’m still praying about who I’m going to vote for. I’m confused, and frustrated, and begging God for wisdom.

Vote for trump. Vote for Clinton. Vote for Johnson. Vote a write in for Daryl Dixon. Vote your conscious. Vote based off your opinion and not the opinions of the media, Facebook, or anyone else.

But as we go to the polls to vote, as Christians, let’s look at ourselves and ponder what we can do to make the world better.

Sitting back and hoping Jesus will come back is not the answer. God is in control, but there are consequences to apathetically sitting by and watching the world burn.

So because we cannot control anyone what can we do?

Let’s start with examining our own faith.

  • As a Christian have you invested in anyone in the last year that does not have a relationship with Jesus? Not as a project. Simply because you are called to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
  • Do you regularly pray for opportunities to share your faith in Jesus with someone who doesn’t know Him?
  • Outside of your own children (if you have any) have you personally discipled anyone to go deeper in their faith? The last command of Jesus was to “go into all nations and make disciples.” His last command is often his most ignored.
  • Do you spend most of your time with Christians or do you intentionally make time to invest in the unchurched?
  • Is your private life in line with who you are publicly?
  • Are there TV shows, songs, or videos that you regularly enjoy that you would be embarrassed to watch with your pastor? If it’s not okay for him to watch them is it okay for you?
  • If your church were to disappear instantly would the community you live in even notice?

I’m not trying to guilt anyone. That’s not my job. I’m asking questions. When I’ve seen the response by the supporters of both candidates it breaks my heart. This election is a reflection of America. Either you are part of the problem or you are part of the solution. I’m looking at myself. To do nothing is not what God has called you and I to do.

Wake on up from your slumber. Baby, open up your eyes.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16 (The Message)

 

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Rob Shepherd

I am the full-time husband of a wonderful woman! I love being married! We are proud parents to twins, Hayden and Reese. In my spare time I am the pastor of Next Level Church. I have a relationship with God and it is an adventure. Oh and I wrote a book. It's called Even If You Were Perfect Someone Would Crucify You.

16 Comments

  1. Stephanie
    October 12, 2016

    Great post. I struggle with what to do come voting time. I’ve prayed for both candidates and cursed both candidates. I was not offended by Trumps disgusting comments about women because I’m retired military and heard locker room talk all my adult life. It still doesn’t make it okay though. My trouble with Clinton is that I’m emotional…and it’s about how you make me FEEL, not just the facts. I’m hurt over Benghazi and that wound is fresh. She scares me, but she is time tested. Trump is a blank page, full of one liners, bad behavior, and weak promises. He doesn’t scare me because of his history, he scares me because there is no history of public service. He’s not time tested. I’m absolutely 100% at a loss of what to do. In the end I’ll go with my gut, but I still think either way we all will all be let down.

    Reply
    • October 13, 2016

      Thanks Stephanie. I appreciate your thoughts. I think a lot of us feel very similarly to you.

      Reply
  2. Steve
    October 12, 2016

    Great thoughts. Whatever shred of hope there was that we can rely on political leaders to further God’s Kingdom in this world has been thoroughly destroyed this election season. I’ve never missed an election and I’ve never been so burdened over who to vote for this time. Im not yet sure what name I’m putting down but I know that regardless of the outcome that I have to be God’s instrument within my community and circle of influence and not rely on the government.

    Reply
    • October 13, 2016

      Thanks Steve. I appreciate your comment! Your last line is crucial.

      Reply
  3. Jimmy
    October 12, 2016

    Well done!!!

    Reply
    • October 13, 2016

      Thanks Jimmy!

      Reply
  4. sabrina
    October 12, 2016

    Thank you so much for this post Rob! It is exactly what I was trying so hard to express in the other post. You are much better at expressing than I am. I am desperate for that conversation. I am praying for wisdom and decrement. We are not voting for the next American Idol, but it sure feels like it.

    I truly appreciate your perspective and candor.

    Reply
    • October 13, 2016

      Sabrina, my pleasure! Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Reply
  5. mim Shepherd
    October 12, 2016

    I am still pondering Psalms 146:3 ” Put not your trust in princes…” I find more peace in voting for the platform than the candidate. The foundational purpose of government is to defend the citizens of the country. Without that, all else is lost. The principles of the platform nearly get lost in malicious rhetoric and political distractions. I have to look to the platform that I believe will best preserve the ideals I value, and trust God to deal with the candidate and pray that the candidate’s heart will be turned toward God.

    Reply
    • October 13, 2016

      Mim, I hear you. I think that has been a major concern for a lot of people. In the end I believe a lot of Christians will vote for Trump because of the Supreme Court decision. I think the conflict comes because some Christian leaders have appeared to turn a blind eye to some of Trumps actions because they believe he is the best to uphold their values.

      Reply
    • Sunnie Sullivan
      November 6, 2016

      I hope you do not feel that our foundation should be to defend our citizens, as children of God, our faith extends to all people of this Earth. Jesus did not load up an arsenal….he loved and trusted God, His father. We should do the same, we must remember we are people of the world, not a country. Only living a life without faith and love will “all else be lost.” The foundation of our government was to support the rights of all. I hope that anyone’s vote is not motivated by one issue, the supreme court nominee, which must mean the abortion issue. There are so many more issues and so many more people are dying because we fail to see it all or vote on a single issue. Bengazi was awful, but 60 people we killed in embassies under Bush. Hundreds of thousands in his war. We insist on the right to be armed, with semi automatic weapons even, showing our lack of faith and trust in God…Jesus was never armed. We see the tragic results all too often and yet no one is brave enough in our churches to say enough! How is it that Republicans became the party of Christians when clearly they are not living their faith because non of these actions represent how Jesus lived, or what he preached. the challenge now is to the be the Christian who says they are living their faith because they believe that all people should have access to healthcare, fair wages, affordable housing, safe workplaces, etc. How is it that Christians can question whether these principals are those Christ would follow, those that we should be voting?? We have become selfish….and it is so sad. I struggle to understand how we got here and the hate in people’s hearts? And yes, I live a life of faith that has shown God’s love and brought others to Christ, but even if it hasn’t brought some to know Christ, those people were still and are still deserving of my love and i continue to help them without the expectation that they believe because I trust God’s love and it isn’t for me to judge

      Reply
  6. Lindsey Ralls
    October 12, 2016

    It is our right to get out and vote and it’s an important right that so many other nations don’t have. I do think it’s important to do your research before you’re at the polls though. Don’t ‘get out there and vote!’ just because that’s what you should do. Do it because you’ve researched, questioned and prayed about who’s name you will be voting for.

    Reply
    • October 13, 2016

      Lindsey, great thoughts! So you are saying I shouldn’t just ask my dad who to vote for? I kid, I kid. I think prayer and research are important. One thing that has left me confused is I literally read one article that is so pro Trump and it makes a lot of sense. I read another that is so pro Clinton and it makes sense. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information that isn’t coming with a bias. It’s either pro or against the candidates. Have you found any info that wasn’t spit out by FoxNews or MSNBC followers?

      Reply
      • Sunnie Sullivan
        November 6, 2016

        I hope that no one trusts what they hear or read about me, I hope they look at my actions to know me. Rather than read about either politician, I hope you will look at what you know about their lives. What have you seen of Hillary, what do you know from watching her? This is what I see: She has advocated for children/ensured they get healthcare (my daughter has diabetes, so this is a biggie for me), she has committed herself to public life-public policy, she put an office in a bad part of town when should could have chosen a popular high rise in NYC, putting her actions behind her words of trying to bring people out of poverty. She started a foundation that has done a lot of good around the world. She didn’t have to do any of this, but by doing this work, lots of people are better off. She forgave and stayed with her husband, is this in line with your faith or what you would hope for those in your parish? Personally, I think she should have kicked him out, but in reality, I know that decision took a lot of strength-more then I have,, and I am sure her Christian faith was the basis of this. And I will add because you mentioned it, Bengazi, how is it really her fault? We know over 60 people died in embassies in Bush’s administration, it is a dangerous job, and while even 4 lives are too many, Bush’s secretary of state was never held to any hearings. Now look at Trump and his marriages….Is this how you would teach your son’s to treat their marriages? Thinking about his works…would you model them? We are blaming Trump and Hillary for our fear or our hate….but we should blame ourselves for allowing the media to let us stray from our faith, because the Lord tells us to trust him. The decision of who to vote for is really an easy one, but the challenge is our fear of what others will think, thanks to the media. I’m not afraid to say I am a Christian, and not afraid to say that I am voting for Hillary because she is someone my daughter can look up to, because she supports issues important to me and my community. I am not voting for Trump because, sadly, there isn’t a characteristic that I have observed that I would say, i want my sons to be like him.

        Reply
  7. Tonya Whatley
    October 13, 2016

    Absolutely love this post! That is our (“the Church”) mission….BE salt & light! #staysalty

    Reply
    • October 13, 2016

      Thanks Tonya!

      Reply

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