Thoughts on the Time

As all my readers are probably tired of hearing by now, in the United States we have an election coming up this week. Here are some of my thoughts.

The country has many deeply-rooted problems—possibly the only point on which all sides can agree, as far as I can see. But even what those problems are is a matter of great disagreement, with each side claiming that one thing their opponents highly prize is an evil not to be borne and another their opponents condemn is an essential part of a free nation’s way of life. And “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Most readers probably know by now which issues I’m primarily thinking of, and my position on them. But that’s not the point—these issues, and even the “gridlock” and partisan acrimony, are only symptoms. (Symptoms which are likely to get worse, as a serious study of history and of the Old Testament Scriptures would seem to indicate, but that’s still not the point.) What we need is a cure of the root problem.

The real problem is, as always, sin. And thus the only possible solution, as always, is the grace of God. Therefore we ought to humble ourselves and repent—of our own particular sins, and of the sins of which we by our part in electing leaders share some responsibility, as well as those we have publicly deplored and condemned for years (cf. Lewis’s essay on “The Dangers of National Repentance, e.g. unpacked in this blog post I found)—and pray (I pray daily now that God will set over us the leaders we need, rather than the leaders we deserve), and preach the whole gospel in hope that our countrymen might also repent.

In short, we ought to do our duty, as laid out for us in Scripture. But the success or failure of our efforts rests in God’s hands. It may be that, as in the days of Josiah or of Jonah, God will relent and spare us from the great disaster we justly deserve, or it may be that, as in the days of the apostles, the nation will be ruined despite every proclamation of the gospel for repentance. “Man proposes, God disposes.” It is in his hands, and we can trust him with absolute certainty; it remains but to us to do our duty.

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Time

    • Thanks for stopping by!

      The funny thing about the story of Jonah, and the main reason I mentioned it in this post, is that (from the text alone … which admittedly doesn’t prove anything one way or another) the message that Jonah preached wasn’t actually one of repentance. He was told to preach repentance, but what what he is actually recorded as saying is nothing more than a prediction of judgment: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The call to repentance is an explicit and integral part of the gospel message, but, as the story of Jonah shows, is not necessary in every case. The Ninevites of Jonah’s day repented, fasted, and prayed without any assurance that Jonah’s God would relent: “Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” They had no certainty, because they did not know the Lord, and had not heard from their youth that he is “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity,” as Jonah had, and yet they turned from their wickedness.

      In the circles of which I am most aware, that point of which the Ninevites had no reason to be aware, God’s love and willingness to forgive, is if anything belabored—not that it doesn’t bear much repeating. And particular sins, of the culture (which ones depend on which circle I’m thinking of) and very occasionally of the congregation, are preached against. But the general first half of “the whole gospel,” the part that by itself doesn’t sound like good news at all, of God’s just wrath against all sin gets scarcely mentioned. Would that every person in the nation (myself included) could see his or her sin as God does!—as a dirty and disgusting rottenness of character going to the core, making us without exception deserving of the worst punishment. Because once our eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit to see our sin even a little bit as it truly is, and in even a fraction of its true extent, grief and sorrow over it, the first part of repentance, follows nearly automatically. (The rest—turning from wicked ways and following righteous paths instead—takes more effort, and (more importantly) the regenerating power of God, but even the first step is an improvement.)

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