Rehearsing the Promises

I am only rehearsing and I know it. I am sitting on my back deck. The sun is shining. A gentle breeze is blowing. The temperatures are warm and pleasant. It’s a perfect day for a ball game. On the radio, Jim Powell reads the Louisiana Hot Sauce ad during a pause in the action (“the hottest prospect of ’em all”). Today is Opening Day—at least it was supposed to be. I am dressed in my Braves’ best. I’m grilling brats and dogs for dinner tonight. And I’m listening to the Atlanta Braves play the Cincinnati Reds. The game was actually played on April 24, 2019. Why am I listening to a game from last year? Because there is no live baseball on today. And until the virus ravaging our country is contained baseball will remain dormant. So I’m rehearsing. I’m practicing. I’m reveling in the sacraments of the game as I wait for the real thing to begin. I want to make it to a ballpark—that “enclosed green field in the sun”. One day I’ll get there.

“Baseball is game about going home,” writes Bart Giamatti, “and how hard it is to get there and how driven our need. It tells us how good home is.” The batter begins his journey at home plate. He leaves in a fury with the sole intent of returning. You win by getting home. You win by helping others get home. Baseball is game about going home. This is why this extraordinary pause in the beginning of the season hurts. It is the indefinite delay of the long anticipated journey home. I’ve felt this before. I feel it every Sunday now.

“Remembering is a spiritual discipline.” I’ll never forgot those words from my pastor. Remember. If we would live a life that honors God and his gospel, then we must be a people who remember. Remember what? Remember the promises and remember our future. It’s too easy to forget. The Kingdom we have been promised isn’t here yet. There are outposts for sure, but the daily grind in a fallen world makes those promises seem elusive and we forget that this world is not our home. We have received a promise of a far greater one. And if we want to make it home, we must remember and we must rehearse.

Repetition is the key. First you learn the drill at a slow speed. Practice is done slowly as you learn the form and the process. Then the drills speed up. But the repetition never goes away. Ground ball after ground ball. Swing after swing. Repeat. Do it again. One more time. End on a good one. Why? Because baseball is a game you cannot think and play. It’s pure reaction. It’s muscle memory and instinct. The same is true of life.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Jesus of Nazareth, Luke 6:45 (ESV)

There is something wrong with us. We have known it all along and usually we are pretty good at hiding it. But in the heat of the moment, our true nature spills out for all to see. Our hearts are out of sync with the rhythms of the Kingdom. Our instincts are broken and twisted. How did we get here? Why were we exposed and embarrassed? We haven’t been remembering or rehearsing. We have forgotten. We’ve grown accustomed to living here.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

I am only rehearsing and I know it. I am sitting with family in the church pew. The warmth of family and friends surrounds us. It’s the perfect morning to gather for worship of our savior. The waters of baptism are stirred and the proclamation that Jesus is Lord is made to the principalities of the power of the air. The Word is preached—the suffering servant has come to redeem his people. Songs and prayers are offered. We are remembering. We are rehearsing. We are reveling in the sacraments of the coming Kingdom.

Do not neglect to meet together. Why? So that we make it home. The Day is drawing near. And what Day is that? The coming of the Kingdom. The realization of the promises. We gather so that we can remember who we are and where we belong. We gather so that we can rehearse the promises. We gather to revel in the sacraments of the Kingdom—to be fed true food and true drink. We rehearse the promises in faith that they will be realized in the future.

But right now, our duty to love neighbor prevents us from gathering physically. We are scattered. The one in seven rhythm has been broken. Our corporate rehearsals for the journey home have ceased with no sure date of return. What is the scattered church to do? Keep remembering. Keep rehearsing. Keep building spiritual muscle memory and instinct.

The Christian life is about going home. We are aliens and strangers in this land. Our citizenship is in heaven. We win at life by going home and bringing as many people as we can with us. And the only way we can get home is if we lose this world—lose our life. When we give up this life for the one Jesus has for us, we die. And we are resurrected to a life indestructible. That’s how we get home—where weakness gives way to power and suffering turns to glory.

I am only rehearsing and I know it. I am sitting at my kitchen table. The sun is still below the horizon. The temperatures are cool outside, but warm inside. The coffee is hot. It’s the perfect morning to meet with my savior. On the pages of my Bible, Moses is leading an obstinate people through a vast wilderness. Those former slaves, often yearning to return to Egypt, frustrate his leadership at almost every turn. I can feel the same tug. Wandering the this broken world makes me feel the same thing. It’d be easier to go back. But that’s why I rehearse. That’s why I’m practicing and remembering. It’s why I am reveling in the sacraments of Word and prayer. I want to make it to the Promised Land—to that sacred green garden in the light of the Son. I’ll make it there one day. He has promised me that much (Phil. 1:6).

Yesterday, Today, Forever—A Constant in the Chaos

It broke my heart. I know it always will. It’s part of the game. Even if your team wins it all, the next day, it stops. Suddenly, the pattern of sun and seventh innings, of balls and strikes, of peanuts and cracker jacks breaks—along with your heart—and baseball stops. But on March 12th, baseball stopped before it had even begun. And my heart broke.

Baseball is a constant in the life of my family. Our vacations are planned around the home schedule of the Atlanta Braves. I watch almost every Braves game. From Opening Day to the final out of the season, baseball is a constant in our home. So when Major League Baseball cancelled the rest of Spring Training and pushed back Opening Day by at least two weeks, I felt a profound sadness. Like Bart Giamatti, I was counting on baseball. “I was counting on the game’s deep patterns, three strikes, three outs, three times three innings, and its deepest impulse, to go out and back, to leave and to return home, to set the order of the day and to organize the daylight.” But due to the measures our nation is taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, one of my constants is gone with no sure date of return. The unease I feel in this moment is deep and I know I am not alone.

In the providence of God, the theme my church chose for the year 2020 is “Yesterday, Today, Forever.” It’s based on Hebrews 13:8.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)

This is a core tenant of the Christian faith. God does not change. He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. It’s the reality that Christians have clung to for millennia as they faced famine, persecution, and plague. It is an anchor that holds no matter the strength of the storm. It’s why the church grows when difficulties intensify. This God who bids us to come and find rest for our weary souls is the same God who called Abram, changed his name and promised to make him a blessing to the nations. This is the same God whose presence caused Mt. Sinai to smoke and quake and caused Moses’ face to shine. This is the same God who walked with David through the valley of the shadow of death. This same God spoke through the prophets and the Law and then came as a man to fulfill them both. Jesus—he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Why does this comfort me? Because the God who never changes has promised us something.

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 28:20, ESV)

We have never been promised an easy life. The idea that our lives should be fat, lazy and light never came from the Bible (despite what you have heard from the religious hucksters and evangelical frauds populating television airwaves). Christians follow a crucified Messiah—one who said that following him involves picking up our cross. If you are looking for an easy life, Christianity doesn’t promise it. But what it does promise is so much greater. It promises the presence of God.

The story of the Bible is one of pursuit. Not man’s pursuit of God, but of God’s pursuit of man. God wants to be with his people. And in the coming of Jesus, we have the penultimate act in his pursuit. He has come and dealt with the sin that separated us. He ascended and sent his Spirit to dwell within us. No matter what we face, we do not do it alone. And those who endure to end are promised a new heaven and new earth away from the presence of sin and its effects and fully in the presence of Jesus “where everything sad is coming untrue.”

Life without constants is chaos. And right now, almost every constant in life is being taken away from us due to the extraordinary measures needed to contain the spread of COVID-19. It feels unsettling. It fees chaotic. But there is one constant that remains—one no virus can touch.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

So if your life feels chaotic, if your constants no longer seem sure, come to Jesus. He doesn’t promise to remove the chaos right now. He promises you his presence in the midst of it. And he promises you a future in a Kingdom that cannot be shaken—with a few peanuts and cracker jacks thrown in for good measure.

The Brotherhood of Jesus

Jesus is not ashamed to call you brother. Let that sink in a little. Don’t rush past that sentence. You. With everything you thought about yesterday (yeah, he heard those thoughts) and the temptations to which you yielded (yeah, he saw that too). Yes, you, struggling Christian. Jesus is not ashamed to call you brother (or sister).

As I recently read Hebrews, I was struck in a fresh way with the power of this reality. Jesus is not ashamed to be associated with me. And not simply in a friend sort of way or even a servant sort of way. The Bible says that Jesus calls me “friend” and “servant” but it also says more. His pride of association with me is on the familial level. He is not ashamed that I am a part of his family. But not only is he not ashamed of me, he delights in me. The writer of Hebrews goes on later to say that it was “for the joy set before him” that he endured the cross. What was that joy set before him? It was me. And it was you. Brothers and sisters added to the family of God that they might reign with Him in the new heavens and the new earth. When Jesus looks at us, he is proud.

But I fear that while we would all check the box and say we believe this truth, in practice we fail to live out its implications.

Personal Implications

Too many Christians walk through life as if the Gospel is not true. When we sin, we rightly feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. And rather than boldly coming before the throne of grace in our time of need, we cower and shrink back. We allow the guilt that invades our conscience to dominate our lives rather than drive us to Jesus. We worm back under the yoke of slavery from which Jesus freed us. We begin to think that our performance is what gains us acceptance. And rather than seeing the throne upon which Jesus sits as one founded on grace, we see it as one founded on judgment. And before we know it, we have practically denied the Gospel.

This spiral is always downward. If we do not correct this (or better said, if we do not have others help us correct this), the yoke of slavery will drive us deeper into despair as we attempt to perform and only continue to fail. The end of failing to believe that Jesus is not ashamed to call you brother is rejecting Jesus all together. Eventually, you will tire of the performance treadmill and your despair will only deepen until the darkness consumes you. Knowing that Jesus is not ashamed to call you brother is key to holding fast your confession to the end.

Social Implications

If Jesus is not ashamed to call a man “brother” then neither should I. If every man who puts his faith in Jesus is my brother (not like a brother, but a real brother), then that reality has social implications. I cannot claim to love Jesus while refusing to love those whom Jesus calls brothers. Now, I think that most Christians would say they are not ashamed to call anyone brother. Anyone is welcome in their church. Rich. Poor. Black. White. Smelly. Clean. All are welcome. And while this may be true, I believe it falls short of what it means to be unashamed of all our brothers and sisters.

Jesus is active on behalf of his brothers. He is never passive. Jesus pursued us. He did not wait for us to come him. No. He came to us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And not only did he come to us, he became like us. In order that he might be a sympathetic high priest, he took on human flesh and experienced the life we all experience. Jesus understands us fully because he is walking around in our skin. This is what the love of God towards us looks like. This is what our privileged older brother did for His under-privileged little brothers. When we weren’t even looking for him, he came. He acted. Not on his behalf, but on ours. If we would be like him, we must do likewise.

Our failure at this point is precisely why we find ourselves unable to have productive conversations amidst the racial tension we face in America today. For too long, separate but equal has been the foundational paradigm for the church in America. For the most part, white brothers and sisters and black brothers and sisters do not worship together. We do not know one another on a familial level. So when the protests erupted over the grand jury decisions in the Mike Brown and Eric Garner cases, many whites could not fathom why. And frankly, many refused to even attempt empathy. Why? Why did many white brothers and sisters seek to reflexively dismiss the concerns that were voiced by black brothers and sisters? Why did many white brothers and sisters write insensitive and tone-deaf social media posts? Because although Jesus is unashamed to call us all brothers and sisters, we whites, too often only view the world through the lens of white dominant culture. We have relationships with many ethnicities but we almost exclusively have familial relationships with our own ethnicity. We are culturally reaping exactly what we have sown in our segregated churches—an “us” vs. “them” divide.

Present Application

Rapper Lecrae rhymes, “It’s not a guilt trip, it’s a field trip that’s gon last more than one day.” This is where we are. The field trip was ugly. So where do we go from here? Two suggestions. First, we reclaim the pride that Jesus has in us. He is not ashamed to call us brother. Live in the freedom of that reality. Second, we look for ways to engage our black brothers and sisters. I don’t know what that looks like for you. I’m still trying to figure that out for myself. But I know one thing for sure. Something needs to change. Bryan Loritts said at a recent event, “without proximity there is no empathy.” Let’s make 2015 a year where we get a little more proximity to our black brothers and sisters. Let’s see their lives by inviting them into our own. Perhaps, for the first time, we will begin to see what the brotherhood of Jesus truly looks like.





The Cosmic Pity Party Pooper

pity party


Every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you. Party pooper. Party pooper. – Franck Eggelhoffer

It is common in our world to think of God as a Cosmic Party Pooper. Man just wants to have fun and here comes God ruining it. The unbelieving world has looked at God and come to the conclusion He exists to kill joy. Or rather, he is a construct of those who wish to kill their joy. It’s understandable. God has said “Do not” to many of the things they wish to do. Now, this view of God is wildly inaccurate (Ps. 16:11). However, there is one type of party we Christians like to throw that God is in the business of pooping.

I just sold my townhouse (Praise God!). Literally. I signed the contract yesterday. And it only took over a year of being on the market with multiple price drops and much anxiety. When my family and I set out on this adventure, I expected it to take maybe six months. Townhouses sell slower than your typical home. But as month six came and went, I started planning a little party. A Pity Party. As we waited, we saw many friends put their houses on the market and sell them (sometimes within days). Suddenly, the date for the party got pushed up and it became a multi-night event. Invitations, however, were limited. I generally only invited my wife and God (It’s funny how we reserve our best for the ones we really love. *end sarcasm*). God never RSVP’d. But He sure did show up. Continue reading “The Cosmic Pity Party Pooper”

Praying Prayers We Don’t Mean

We all do it. Most of us do it daily. We come before the throne of God Almighty and offer up prayers we really don’t want Him to answer. We know we are supposed to pray for these things. We’ve been around enough to know that these are the things Christians pray for. And yet, in the depths of our hearts, we hope they won’t get answered.

This disbelief is not something we would admit. We think we want all our prayers to be answered. But the truth always comes out. When God starts answering those prayers, our reactions to His methods betray what we really want. We want the ends, but we do not want His means. And this is the rub.

My wife knows her way around the kitchen. The girl can flat-out cook. And I can flat-out eat. We are a good match. Something I have learned while watching my wife in the kitchen is that if you want cookies, then follow the cookie recipe. Do not stray from it. Do not forget an ingredient or step. Otherwise the result will be sadness and a growling stomach. This is the nature of cooking and baking. The means matter when the goal is a particular end.

A land flowing with milk and honey. That was the promise. When God appeared to Moses and chose him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, God tells Moses that He is giving them a land flowing with milk and honey. I’m sure that sounded like paradise to the people. They had only know oppression and poverty. And here was God promising wealth and freedom. Finally, after years of crying out to God to rescue them, to remember them, God answered their prayers. As God rescued them from the hand of Pharaoh, the people rejoiced and responded with praise. Whatever God commanded of them, they did. But something happened. Something changed. The path to the Promised Land led through the wilderness. There was difficulty and suffering in their path. And the people grumbled. Manna? In the wilderness? Where’s the water? Did God bring us out here to kill us? Is God a liar? They questioned the means by which God was bringing about the promised end. And their faithless grumbling was their undoing. Rather than receive the blessing promised, they were cursed and fell in the wilderness. For their grumbling revealed that the rescue they prayed for they never really wanted.

Right now, I sit in a townhouse that I want to sell. I have two bedrooms that are both occupied and a new son due to be born in February. We feel cramped. We knew this time would come, so we put our house on the market 10 months ago. And we prayed that God would sell it. But this is not all we have prayed for. I asked God to make us more like Jesus through this process. And of all the prayers Christians are supposed to pray, this is the one I think too many of us pray without thinking about it. I know I did.

Why is this? We like the ends. To be like Jesus, full of love, mercy, kindness, and joy, sounds wonderful. But we often do not consider the means by which God will make us like Jesus. Jesus walked the path of suffering and humility. Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Eternal Son of God enfleshed to live, die and rise again so that we might be saved from our sins. Where was he born? Most likely, a drafty cave. Who visited him? Mangy shepherds. He had no convenience. He had no comforts. Even in his birth, Jesus lived a life marked by humility, suffering and difficulty.

Yet, somehow we think we should not have to suffer. But much to our consternation, there are no shortcuts to imaging Jesus. If we would be like him, we must walk His path. Humility comes before honor. Suffering comes before glory. It is the way of the Father.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17, ESV)

We want the Promised Land without the wilderness. We want the milk and honey without first tasting the manna. We want Jesus without the cross because we would rather not bear our own. It is why we pray prayers we do not mean. Thankfully, even though God sees through our half-hearted prayers, He still answers them as if we meant it. Affliction shows up at our door and does his work (1). Sin bubbles to the surface. Sin we had no idea was there. What will we do with it? Will we bring our sin to Jesus so He can kill it? Or will we respond like the wilderness generation and be killed by our sin? Will we grumble as Affliction begins his rehab project or with our eyes firmly fixed on the end, rejoice in the means? The early church rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. Why? Because they knew that suffering leads to glory. Too often, I forget that. It is why I end up praying prayers I do not mean. But there is hope for me. He still came. Today is still Christmas. Praise God for His grace.


1 – I owe this concept of affliction to Doug Wilson’s tweet.

Fear Boldly, Son

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:26-27, ESV)

It took me a year. But I finally found the verses I will pray over my son. I have thought a lot about his life and all that may lay before him. Today is his birthday. And my mind has been flooded with all the memories of this past year. But, I also realize that now is the time to start teaching him and shaping him for the roads ahead. But where to start? Solomon gives me a good place to start. Fear.

If I do not shape the contours of his fear, the world will do it for me. The question when it comes to fear is not should our kids have fears, but what kinds of fear. The world will tell us to have no fear (remember all those “No Fear” t-shirts?). The world calls fear unnecessary. So they create conferences and write books and produce podcasts all about conquering your fears. But this is all posturing and lies. Man was made for fear. But the problem for most is not that they fear too much, but that they fear too little. Their lives are marked by constant fear of a thousand petty things. And they are immobilized and fretful. They are weak, cowardly and foolish. And the solution is not less fear but greater fear.

I think some people get this. They look around and understand they should be more scared than they are on a daily basis. So they create stories meant to scare. Vampires, werewolves, aliens, serial killers and the boogeyman, oh my! The horror genre exists to scare us, to help us feel fear. They seem to intuitively know that their daily fears are too small, too insignificant.

God is the greatest reality in the universe. He is the greatest power. He spoke and stuff appeared, ex nihilo. Our hearts beat and our lungs fill with air because He is speaking. And since He is the greatest power, He deserves our greatest fear. And as counter-intuitive as it may sound, if we would only fear a bigger fear, we would find freedom from the petty fears that plague our lives. We would be transformed from cowardly to bold. We would leave the path of folly and walk in wisdom.

How does this work? Why does the fear of the LORD lead to wisdom? Because the fear of the LORD puts us on the path to embracing the Gospel. When we see God in all His glory, we see our sin. We realize that we cannot stand before pure holiness. We need a mediator or we risk drinking the wrath of God to the dregs. We find that mediator in Jesus of Nazareth. When we trust in Jesus and are united by faith to Him, we have then been united to the Father. The greatest power in the universe now holds us in His hands. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, ESV) Paul asks rhetorically. Do you see the freedom in this? Nothing can touch you when God is in your corner. This does not mean that you will not experience pain or difficulty in life. But it does mean that the end of the story is good for you. It means life and not death. But first we must lay aside our petty fears.

So fear boldly. Fear the One who speaks dragons into existence and fear not the dragons. For the dragons can only kill you. This is what I will teach my son. It’s the only wise thing I can do.


A Good Day To Die?

Is today a good day to die? Earlier this week, I thought it was. As I drove home from Vacation Bible School, I felt really good. I am helping lead a group of 4th grade future men. I had shared the gospel with them. I plead with them to walk the path of wisdom and to begin the journey that very night. Some of them asked good questions. They seemed to grasp what I was telling them. And that made me excited. It felt good.

As I neared home with David Crowder* Band blaring, I thought, this would be a good way to go out. It would be a good day to die and enter into glory with my last moments spent serving children and bidding them to come to Christ. Yes, that’d be a great way to go. But there was a problem. The thought sprang from my heart in a moment of self-referential me-ness. Because I felt good about my service, I judged myself fit to come before the Throne and in the process, effectively denied the very Gospel I had pleaded with some 4th grade boys to believe.

The Last Judgement, Gustave Dore
The Last Judgement, Gustave Dore

The Gospel of Jesus is news that utterly subverts our natural point of reference: self. Any and all hope and trust in self must shrivel up and die like a tree deprived of water if we seek to follow Jesus. He demands that all of our trust and hope rest on his broad shoulders. For we all stand condemned as law breakers. None is clean. All fall short. All miss the mark. What we deserve is the wrath promised for law-breakers. But Jesus lived perfectly. He never sinned. Not once. And instead of receiving reward, he died the cursed death of a law-breaker. Why? So that guilty sinners like you and me could escape. He paid the penalty and we enjoy the reward. My salvation has absolutely nothing to do with my obedience, and everything to do with Jesus’ (speaking strictly in terms of our justification). My standing before the Father is not referenced in my daily obedience to an abstract list of rules, but in my faith in Jesus. And Jesus has promised me that all who come to him will not ever be cast out. My standing is sure and secure.

But my morbid little thought exercise effectively rejected that Gospel. Quite subtlety, I made preaching the Gospel the foundation of my standing before the Father and not receiving the Gospel. The difference may seem insignificant, but dangerous ground lay before me. The choice between the path of folly (trust in self) and wisdom (trust in Jesus) is one of eternal significance. Gratefully, it was but a brief relapse of memory. Gratefully, God opened my eyes to the folly of that thought almost instantly. Grace upon grace indeed.

In reality, any day that one dies in Jesus, is a good day to die. And that is true no matter what the details of that day. I could die after sharing the Gospel with 10,000 people, or die after sharing with none and struggling terribly with sin. Both days would remain good days to die because the circumstances of neither of those days change my standing before the Father. What God sealed before the foundation of the world cannot be broken (Praise God!). That’s the simple and yet exceedingly profound truth of the Gospel.

Is today a good day to die? That depends entirely on how you answer the question, who is Jesus?


The Gulag Gosnell

“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Kermit Gosnell
Kermit Gosnell

Kermit Gosnell. The man is infamous now. Killing babies born alive by using scissors to snip their spinal cords will do that. In case you are unfamiliar with Mr. Gosnell, he is currently facing multiple counts of murder for killing babies born alive after botched abortions at his Philadelphia clinic. The details are horrific. I can’t even bring myself to repeat most of them. The images available in the grand jury report are stomach turning. The testimony by former staffers is gut-wrenching, heart-rending and nauseating. House of horrors does not even begin to describe it. There is something more sinister here. The darkness is deeper. The evil more palpable.

Continue reading “The Gulag Gosnell”

Long Live the King

For months now, political ads and discourse (the strident kind) assaulted the airwaves and intertubes. It is very difficult not to notice. You can not even drive through your neighborhood without out seeing lawn ornaments declaring that home’s inhabitant’s political preference. Even Monday Night Football is not a safe haven from electioneering. Tis the nature of living in a democratic society. Some of the aspects of political silly season, we can laugh at. Others should make our skin crawl. One such issue that has particularly bugged me this election season is the way Jesus gets used as a political football to help one side or the other. And both sides stand guilty in this charge.

Jesus is a unique figure in human history. He is unique in that He is an authoritative figure. Millions in this country swear their ultimate allegiance to Him. So it is no big surprise to see the political class attempt to co-opt Jesus for their own political ends. The math is quite simple; convince a significant majority that allegiance to Jesus means allegiance to a certain political party or ideology and guarantee that political party or ideology unending power. Thus we get “Jesus was a democrat” or “Jesus was a republican” or even “Jesus was a socialist.”

Have you noticed the tense these people use when they talk about Jesus. Frankly, as an orthodox Christian, I find it very odd. They always speak of Jesus in the past tense, as if Jesus is no longer living. When I mention the political affiliations of dead politicians, I never use the present tense. To do so would immediately convey my belief that this person remains alive. So when I talk about Ronald Reagan, I say that he was a republican. When I mention JFK, I say he was a democrat. They are no longer republicans or democrats, respectively, for they are among the dearly departed. Yet, what do orthodox Christians believe about Jesus? They believe He rose from the grave and then ascended into Heaven. This means that He is still alive. Speaking of Jesus in the past tense is wholly inappropriate for an orthodox follower. I find it curious that the political manipulators have not caught on to this. But then again, they are not concerned with Jesus as He is, but only Jesus as they can conceive of him and use him. Anyone who says Jesus “was” something, is clueless and does not deserve your time or attention.

Yet, what I find far more disturbing are the Christians who allow themselves to believe that somehow the political class is more right about Jesus than their Bible. They have forgotten (or perhaps were never taught) that Christianity is a political ideology unto itself. It is also way more than that, but not less. The statement “Jesus is Lord” is not merely a statement about Jesus’ reign in the church or individual hearts of believers. Rather it is a political statement. When a new believer confesses that “Jesus is Lord” that new believer is saying that Jesus is Lord of the cosmos. He is King and He rules over everything and everyone. And this political statement is at the heart of the Christian faith. To follow Jesus is to live as a citizen of His Kingdom. And no political party or ideology can sufficiently reduce the Kingdom to fit their agenda. While we live in a democratic republic, every Christian is a monarchist. And not just a monarchist, but a theocratic monarchist. Jesus, who is God, is King and we long for the day He consummates His reign on the earth. While we wait, make no mistake, Jesus reigns as king from Heaven. Nothing is outside his purview and He is at work in the events of human history to bring about His purposes for His glory. Maranatha!

This all begs the question, should Christians vote? Would it not be treasonous for Christians to take part in the political process? No. As my pastor, David Prince, said on Sunday, to refuse to participate is to fail to love your neighbor. The man who sits in the Oval Office will have a profound effect on the lives of millions of people (just ask the millions of unemployed and under-employed). The policies of the man we put in the White House matter. So if we are to obey our King and love our neighbor as ourself, we better make our way to the voting booth and punch the ticket for the man we believe will best serve our country. While at the same time, we must not think that what happens in the voting booth is the most significant thing going on in the world. That line of thinking crosses over into treason against our King. For there, we have stopped honoring God.

Is our country broken? Yes. Will today’s results fix all our problems? Nope. Not even close. Government will continue to atrophy until the day the One with shoulders broad enough to bear it returns. Until then, the next time the government wastes your money studying the effects of bovine flatulence on the environment, let that drive you to yearn for your King, rather than deeper into prideful cynicism. Let us fixate on His perfections, even as we live in the midst of so much imperfection. The only hope for our country and our world is not on the ballot today. But one day He will return and make everything right.

So sleep well tonight. Jesus is King and that will never change.