The verses pop this morning. Maybe not surprising given it’s the eve of an election that I can’t imagine anyone — not even the most politically disinterested — not having their eye upon. Beyond the “who wins” there’s so much speculation about “what happens.” Ideology competes with integrity. People have been dehumanized into parties. Civility increasingly incompatible with being a citizen.
As ambassadors from a different kingdom who, by God’s common grace, have been given a stewardship and are able to participate in the political process in this land, it can be hard to walk the line of being in the world but “not of the world” (Jn. 17:16). How we need wisdom to know how to walk that line. But how we need Spirit provided protection when it comes giving away our hearts.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
(1John 2:15-17 ESV)
The verses pop not because I fear having fallen in love with the world, but because I see a greater warning of becoming too entwined and dependent upon the world.
According to Paul, love is the greatest of three that “abide”: faith, hope, and love (1Cor. 13:13). Three key human dynamics that remain with us, guiding us during our sojourn home. As Peterson puts it in the Message, three things “to lead us toward that consummation.” John addresses one specifically, the “greatest” one, in his warning here, but I’m thinking that for some there is just as great a danger of being entrapped by the other two.
Do not put your faith in the world or the things in the world. Our trust isn’t in democracy, or a party, or even in a platform where we are convinced we’re right. Instead, we are to trust in the LORD with all our heart. All our heart, not just part of it. No part of our heart’s trust given away to some other “foundation” we might be counting on, for no other foundation stands as a Rock like our foundation. We might steward our vote, but we don’t trust in our vote. In fact, though the issues might seem really clear to us in some respects, we’re not to “lean on your own understanding” but “in all your ways acknowledge Him,” confident that it is God and God alone who will “make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).
Nor are we to put our hope in the world or the things of the world. It is not where our help comes from. Rather our “help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2). We may participate in our political process but the fulfillment of the promise is not dependent upon the political process. Our hope is in the sovereign, unchanging love of the Father and in the finished work of His risen Son and His glorious return. That’s when we’ll truly “win the election.”
This quote from Platt’s short book on how to think about voting comes to mind:
Even if we lose every freedom and protection we have as followers of Jesus in the United States, and even if our government were to become a completely totalitarian regime, we could still live an abundant life as long as we didn’t look to political leaders, platforms, or policies for our ultimate security and satisfaction. We can still have hope, peace, joy, and confidence regardless of what happens in our government.— Platt, David. Before You Vote: Seven Questions Every Christian Should Ask . DPZ Technology. Kindle Edition.
But it’s this quote from God’s great book that stirs my heart:
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1Corinthians 13:13 ESV)
These three remain. These three will take us home. And none of them are found in the world, for the world is passing away.
. . . but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
By His grace. For His glory.