The Hearts of the People

This may be the closest I ever come to a political rant…

All of us are political malcontents in one way or another. We have no difficulty naming some politician (or a whole group of them) that just chaffs us. We wish they would start making better decisions or be relieved of their power. We shake our heads and clench our fists in frustration as they ruin our city, our state, our country, or even our world.  Everything would be so much better if they could just hear, and implement our wisdom.

Or would it…?

To be sure, politicians have their own set of worldviews and agendas that inform their decisions and affect us—for better or for worse.

But I cannot read the Bible and think that the ignorance, naivety, or corruption of politicians is really the driving force behind current events.  Scripture (especially the writings of the prophets) reveals time and time again that God is intimately involved in the rise and fall of both leaders and nations, even to the point of determining geographical boundaries (Acts 17:26).

I don’t pretend to be savvy to all of the complex particulars by which God determines the nature and timing of his activities in world politics.  However, I’ve developed a new appreciation for just how explicitly God speaks through the prophets concerning the hows and whys of his intervention in the affairs of the world. There is a common thread that runs through most of these disclosures—and it is not the competency, integrity, or personal ambitions of the leaders.

It is the hearts of the people. (Isaiah 29:13)

Sometimes the people’s hearts are in the right place and God blesses them with good leaders and prospers their nation. Sometimes the people have turned away, but God is merciful and continues to bless and protect them, in order that his kindness might draw them back. Sometimes the people are stubborn and unfaithful and God sends judgment in the form of humiliation or exile, that they might acknowledge him again and turn back. Sometimes the people have blinded themselves with their wicked desires, so God gives them what they want in the form of foolish and corrupt leaders. Sometimes the people are unrepentant, so God uses their hard hearts to direct the course of world history toward the fulfillment of his purposes.

What this tells me is that if we want better things for our state, our nation, and our world, we need to repent. And when I say we, I mean we—the church. I mean me. I don’t mean those other deluded and misguided folks who vote for the wrong candidates or support the wrong policies.

How can we expect others’ hearts to be turned if ours aren’t?

We are consumed and distracted by everything but the kingdom of God. We can’t say without blushing that God’s kingdom is what we live for, what determines our priorities.

We make church about forms and traditions….or sometimes about rejecting forms and traditions, but more often than not, we fail to make it about being the body of Christ.

We whine about them taking public prayer out of schools, in God we trust off of the money, and Christ out of Christmas, but we don’t seek God when we can, and we don’t trust him enough to sacrifice or risk much for the sake of knowing and glorifying Christ.

We gripe about our leaders, but we don’t pray for them like we’re instructed (1 Tim 2:1-4), or even believe prayer will really make a difference in their ability to lead well.

We bemoan the moral degradation of our society, but we’re too busy entertaining ourselves and justifying our own compromises to be be a light in the darkness.

All this stuff we fear and hate so much happened on our watch, yet we insist on looking at this as a top-down thing. Maybe it’s a bottom-up thing.

I’m not making the case that Christians ought to be apolitical. It’s right to be informed and vote responsibly. It is good to engage the government and effect positive change. I’m thankful for the efforts of those who do. But the people in office and the policies on the books are only fruit. We are the tree.

If the people’s hearts are not turned to God, the position of the nation remains precarious. God responds to the hearts of the people.

What if we stopped blaming the government, looked inward, and repented? What if we admitted that our own motives aren’t always pure? What if we stopped seeking the perfect method or program, and instead sought the heart of God?  What if we really believed God was the answer? What if we did away with our unspoken boundaries and surrendered EVERY area of our lives to him? What if our love and investment in others changed lives—lots of them?

What if our passion for God, and his power in us, captured the hearts of the people?

We understand and believe in the power of one vote multiplied many times over, but do we understand and believe in the power of one heart multiplied many times over?

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