Prayer and Politics: Four Things I’m Praying for During this Political Season

Seasons have a way of shaping the content of our prayers. If in a season of crisis, our prayers typically include asking the Lord to either avert the crisis or walk with us through it. If in a season of tragedy or grief, we usually pray that the Lord provide comfort and peace. If in a season of bliss, our prayers typically are rich in thanksgiving and praise. But what about a political season like the one we are in now?

What kind of prayers do you think people, especially Christians, are lifting up? Obviously, I cannot say with certainty what people are or aren’t praying. I can, through browsing the pages of social media and media outlets, make an educated guess. There are some believers praying for their particular candidate to win. Some are quoting the Psalms, asking the Lord to comfort them in their distress. Some are praying that voters—especially those of a Christian persuasion—have a change in hearts and minds of whom they will vote for.

In all honesty—although I would classify myself as a politically engaged person—I find myself crestfallen (deflated) and heartbroken in this political season. Our country has collided with the present future teeming with ethnic, racial, political, religious, moral, ideological, philosophical, and political diversity. As a result, the collision leaves our United States not so united, but rather fragmented, fractured, and fearful.

But if this wasn’t disheartening enough, I’m afraid that the American church may be no different.

Instead of serving as a doctor suturing the national wound of division, the disunity and fragmentation within the American church (especially Evangelicalism) has sliced open the divisive wound even more.

In other words, instead of serving as the bonding agent that enters into the brokenness and pain bringing healing and restoration, many believers and sects of Christianity—by their words and posture towards others—have, from my perspective, intensified the brokenness and pain that exists from division and fragmentation.

This leads me to four things I am praying for during this political season. Here they are:

1) Unity. For my fellow believers, think about it, if we find it difficult to agree on secondary and tertiary theological matters, what makes us think we can agree on political parties, politicians, and policies? Yet we are called to be unified. In fact, Jesus prayed in John 17, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17: 11). We must remember that unity is not uniformity. When believers attempt to create uniformity they usually incite division and cause disunity.

So my prayer is that believers would seek to be unified and remember that while there may be multiple parties, politicians, and policy positions, “There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4–6). I also pray that believers will work towards unity by speaking wholesome words of encouragement not fracturing ones of division, and will embody a disposition that can agree to disagree and yet worship side by side in complete harmony.

2) Witness. When Christians enter the muck and mire—the mudslinging—of American politics they become part of the dirty laundry in a dirty world that desperately wants to be clean. Participation in such behavior is off-putting not attractive. In addition, when we fail to love and show grace, even in an arena where I don’t know if those two words exists, we distort our gospel witness. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about American politics (and I’m sure global politics) that brings out the worst in people, even Christians.

So my prayer is that the church would be salt and light in a world filled with tastelessness and darkness; that Christians would radiate the eternal light of the glory of King Jesus even as they engage in the temporal realm of politics; and rather than engaging in behavior or activism that builds barriers to effective gospel witness, believers would engage in such a way that builds bridges to those who are far from God. 

3) Peace. At some point in this political season many people will be disappointed and discouraged. Why? Because their person or party will lose. As believers, while you may be disappointed or discouraged that your man (or woman) didn’t win, hopefully you will not be downcast or depressed—or better yet angry and bitter. Why? Because your hope isn’t in politicians, politics, policies, or government, but in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Jesus Christ—the King of Glory—purchased our hope through his shed blood and resurrected life, and has sent His ambassadors (the church) to preach the good news that brings great peace!

So my prayer is that believers will be at peace with whatever happens because they trust in the Lord and His sovereignty, and that they will seek to be people of peace who share and show the good news of Jesus Christ.

4) Dignity and Respect for All. Dignity and respect for others is conceived from a love for God and a love for others. Once birthed, dignity and respect is manifested in our words and our behavior towards others. The Apostle Paul encourages believers:

  • “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another and tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:29–32).
  • “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:6).

So my prayer is that the words, social media posts, and engagement with opposing political views from Christians will be wholesome and holy—displaying a dignity and respect for all. I pray that believers will not succumb to the temptation to mudsling or repost mudslinging posts or articles that tear down rather than build up.

As you can see I’m praying more for a faithful presence in the lives of believers and in the corporate life of the church. The reality is, I’m not as concerned for the personal vote one casts as I am for a gospel-centered life one lives. Sure, I want people to make an informed, educated, and prayerful decision about the candidate they will vote for and the direction of our country.

However, for me, the most important thing is that Christians live a life that displays the greatest decision they have ever made—namely to follow King Jesus, the God who ransomed and redeemed them—and a life that demonstrates the belief and hope that America is not their final destination but the consummated Kingdom of God.

In closing, as we walk through this heated, nasty, and divisive political season, may the church, the people of God, rise above the fragmented fray of American politics and endorse unity rather than uniformity; may believers give radiant witness to their Rescuer and Redeemer rather than their political hero or their national savior; may believers rest in Christ’s sovereignty and seek to be at peace with whatever happens and to be peace by sharing and showing the gospel; and may those who profess Christ treat all people (regardless of party or policy) with dignity and respect—even if you think the person or persons don’t possess dignity and respect for others, and are your opponent, enemy, and a dirty, rotten scoundrel.

In doing these things, I truly believe the church will have a greater potential of being a blessing to all regardless of one’s political party, class, ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, religious belief, or ideology. In short, may the Lord be glorified and people be blessed by our politicking.

Loving your Wife Like Christ Loved the Church

Joannie and I have been married for over twelve years. Like any marriage, we have had our ups and down, highs and lows, profits and losses. As a believer, and one who wants to honor and bring glory to Christ in all I do, I desire to love my wife as Christ has loved the church. If you are married, engaged, or are thinking about getting married at some point—and you love Jesus—I am sure you want to love your wife like he loved you. But how do we do this? What does loving our women like this look like? Below are five ways, based on Ephesians 5:25–33, that we men can attempt to love our wives as Christ loved and loves his Church.

1) Know Our Spouse’s Condition

Jesus knew the condition of humanity. He knew we were broken, sinful, unrighteous, and self-centered. He knew we were lost, but unaware. He knew we were severed from our Creator; that we were like sheep gone astray. Because he knew our condition, he knew what our greatest need was. He knew we needed to be redeemed—we needed to be rescued and saved from our sin. Because Jesus knew our condition, he knew how he could love us.

If we are going to love our wives as Christ loved the Church, we need to know her condition. We need to know her strengths and weakness; her fears and failures; her anxieties and anticipations; her dreams and nightmares; her likes and dislikes; and her turn-ons and turn-offs.

Knowing our spouse helps us to love our spouse. Knowing her, helps us to know how to meet her where she is at, in the condition she is in.

2) Relinquish Our Rights for the Good of Our Spouse

Paul continues describing in Ephesians that Jesus “gave himself up for her. . . .” Jesus couldn’t love us in our condition without relinquishing some of his rights. Paul shares in his letter to Philippians how Jesus relinquished some of his rights in order to meet us in our condition. Paul writes, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5–7).

Christ relinquished his right as Creator, God, and King in order to reach us in our condition. He had the right to be served, not to serve. However, we know he came serving for the welfare of the human race. He had the right to demand praise and honor, yet he came lowly, humble, and meek, which was for the welfare of humanity. He had the right to call his angelic army to rescue him from the cross, yet he choose the path of suffering for the good of humanity. He relinquished his rights for his bride—his people, his church.

Paul did something similar to the Corinthians. In an effort to free the movement of the gospel in Corinth, Paul relinquished his right to get paid for gospel ministry (1 Cor 9:12–14).

I have thought about what some of my rights, as a husband, are. I have the right to be right, especially when I am; or, I at least have the right to argue my case of why I am right. I have the right to sit down and put my feet up after a long day. I have the right to go golfing if I want. You may have some other so called “rights” that you think you are entitled to. But the lesson we learn from Christ about loving our bride, is that we are to relinquish our rights for her good.

This may mean that rather than putting our feet up, we put our hands towards cleaning the dishes, helping bathe the kids, and tidying up the living room. Or rather than us going out with the guys this week, we may give our wife the afternoon, the evening to herself. Or, this may mean the next time she confronts us about something, or pointing out a way we can improve, we don’t mouth off trying to protect our inflated ego, but rather say “you’re right babe, I will work on that.”

Relinquishing our rights for the sake of our wife’s good demonstrates how we put her needs before our own.

3) Sacrifice to Elevate Our Spouse’s Condition

Paul tells us that Jesus gave himself up that he might sanctify the church. In other words, Jesus sacrificed himself in order to elevate his people’s, his bride’s, condition. What kind of sacrifice are we making in order to elevate our bride’s condition? Now, I’m not talking about becoming a work-a-holic to quench the material thirst your wife has.

I’m talking about sacrificing in order to elevate the condition of your wife’s spiritual, emotional, and relational condition.

This goes back to knowing our wife’s condition, which means knowing her needs, fears, and desires. For instance, if you know your wife gets stressed out when the family schedule gets crazy, what can you sacrifice to help elevate her emotional status? If you have a wife who works outside the home, what can you sacrifice in order to lessen the stress of her managing the household? If you know your wife comes back emotional filled when she has a night or weekend with her girlfriends, what are you willing to do to make that happen? If you know going to this event or this chick flick would make your wife very happy—although you would dread going—can you sacrifice and go in order to elevate her emotional, relational value? What about taking the time to pray for her and with her? To talk about what Jesus is teaching you?

Remember, sacrificing for your spouse is pouring yourself out in order to fill-up her cup.

4) Fill Our Minds with Active Thoughts on Our Spouse

Paul continues the discussion and notes that if we are going to love our wives as Christ loved the church we must love them like we love ourselves. About eight months ago I took an assessment on how I viewed myself. As the counselor was going over my results, he looked up and said you think highly of yourself. (I kind of smiled and chuckled.) While it can be a strength to have a healthy self-esteem, the weakness can be that you think of yourself—your needs, wants, desires, and preferences—to the detriment of others, like your spouse. This is something I have had to really work on in my marriage.

I have a counselor who shared with me what he called, “Points of Attention,” to help me think about how I could actively think about Joannie.

“Points of Attention” are thoughts during the day when you cognitively think about your spouse.

For instance, when you go to the store, do you think of your wife’s favorite candy? Ice cream flavor? When you are browsing the clearance racks at Macy’s do you even think to go over and look for your wife? What about texting or calling your wife throughout the day just to let her know she is on your mind? What about putting your arm around her, or holding her hand in public, just so she knows you notice her and want to be seen with her? What about getting movie tickets, not to the latest Marvel Avenger’s movie or Peter Jackson flick, but to the latest genre of movie she’s likes?

How many “Points of Attention” do you have for your spouse in a given day, a given week?

Filling our mind with active, deliberate “Points of Attention” demonstrates that we love our spouse just as much as we love our self.

5) Remember our Marriage is a Covenant

At the very end of the passage, Paul states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph 5:31–32). In short, Paul notes that Christ left (in obedience) the Father and became one with the Church through his death, resurrection, and ascension (and our faith in him).

Here’s the beauty of entering into a covenant with Christ, when the Father looks at us—those who are in covenant relationship with Christ— he sees his beloved, righteous, and perfect Son in whom he was and is well-pleased. Our personhood is secure in the love and righteousness of Christ. We don’t have to worry about how the Father sees us. We don’t have to worry about Christ’s love towards us. We don’t have to worry if Christ is going to leave us, or if the Father is going to take away his love and affection for us, if we blow it. Our marriage to Christ is an unconditional, unwavering, unbreakable covenant. As a result, Christ actively clings and holds fast to us; thus, we should do likewise to him.

This covenantal relationship we have with Christ has great implications for our covenantal relationship with our spouse. We should actively cling to and hold fast to our spouse, which happens as we fulfill the above points. In doing so, not only do we remember the covenantal relationship we have and are in with our spouse, but also in doing so, our wives will be less likely to ever doubt whether or not we love them.

Regardless of the environmental situational storms we may face as husband and wife, if we actively cling to and hold fast to our wives, they will feel safe, secure, and stable in their relationship with us.

Happy Valentine’s Day to All! Men, may we love our wives as Christ has loved his Church! As a result, may we have healthy, holy, and happy marriages for the glory of God, for the good of our families, and for the good of the world!

A God Who Doesn’t Give Fist Bumps

Over the last couple of weeks our house has been hit with sickness. A couple of our children have had strep and one has had a cold. Now, if you know me, I don’t like getting sick—I mean, who does? And when someone in our house gets sick, you better believe, I take precautions to avoid catching what they have.

To protect myself, I do a few things. First, I have a big bottle of hand-sanitizer that I use non-stop. If I touch the contagion or anything that they touch, I immediately go for the bottle. Second, I double-up on my vitamins and pray that God works through the power of Vitamin-C. And third, I implement the loving “fist bump.” In other words, I keep my face and lips away from theirs. So no kisses and hugs for the infected during their sickness. I know what some of you are thinking, I won’t be winning a daddy-of-the-year award with my cold-hearted fist-bumps.

As I was thinking about my fist-bumps this morning, it hit me that God—the ultimate good, good Father—doesn’t give fist bumps to sick, diseased-stricken humans, but rather seeks to wrap them up in his loving arms and shower them with blessed kisses.

How do I know this? Because the good news of Jesus is that rather than purge the earth of sinful, infectious, diseased-stricken humans and start all over, or rather than retreat in divine abandonment leaving sick humans hopeless and just enjoying the blissful Trinitarian community, God choose to love the diseased-stricken world by sending Jesus in the contagious fray and meeting them face to face. And not only that, he choose to take man’s sin and place it on himself. In other words, he willing caught our disease so that he could dispose of it once and for all. In short, God gives no timid, impersonal, self-protected fist bumps to sick humans, but large—full of grace and love—hugs and kisses.

In loving sinful, infectious, and diseased-stricken humans in this manner, there are several things that we learn about God.

  1. No matter how sick or contagious we are, we are never too sick for God’s personal, loving, and gracious touch. Think about that! No matter who you are, what you have done, or how messed up you think you are, you are not too sick for God’s personal, loving, and gracious touch. Just as Jesus touched the leper—someone who was too sick for anyone to want to be around—and healed him (Matt 8:3), he can (and wants to) touch and heal you.
  1. Jesus loves us so much that he sacrificed his health so that we might be healthy. When someone is sick it tends to isolate him or her from the rest of the world—given that no one really wants to be in proximity to someone who’s sick and have the potential of catching what they have. Being sick can be very lonely. The few people who would even care for the infectious person are the ones who really love the one suffering. There are many places in Scripture that speak to God’s love for humans. Passages such as John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 2 Thess 2:16, 1 John 3:1, and 1 John 4:9–11 speak of God’s love for us. And remember, God’s love isn’t directed to the healthy, but the unhealthy. In fact, the Bible teaches that Jesus sacrificed his health so that we might be healthy. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” In sickness terms, Jesus took our sickness on himself and disposed of it once and for all so that we might have a clean bill of health. Oh, the love of God!
  1. God meets us in our unhealthy state by providing the warmth, comfort, and security of a loving and caring Father. I’ve never met someone who loved being sick. In fact, any person that I’ve come across who was sick felt bad that they were sick. In other words, they see their sickness as being an inconvenience to those who care for them. Thus, in an already fragile state—both mentally and physically—the last thing a caretaker wants to do is make the sick person feel worse. In the parable of the prodigal son, the Father ran out to warmly greet his sinfully diseased and disobedient son. And rather than making him feel worse than what he already felt, the father (who represents God the Father) meets his son in a warm, comforting, loving, and securing manner. He met him not to condemn him, but met him to caress him as a loving Father.
  1. The way God responded to man’s sickness proves that he is the Father and home everyone is searching for. Our sickness has a way of revealing our true home. In other words, the place we go to recover and be cared for, and the person(s) we rely on to care for us, reveals the place and people we call home. Obviously if a person is really sick and has to go to the hospital, you still can tell who “home” is by the people who are always there. God, from the very beginning, has wanted to provide a home for human beings—a place where he would be king and Father, and a place where man could enjoy perfect communion and harmony with him. Man’s sickness left all his faculties (mental, physical, emotional, social, relational, vocational, and cultural) damaged, which left him homeless and wandering aimlessly in search of his home. Once again, the great news is that God didn’t leave man in his sickness and homeless state, but pursued him to bring him back home—fully healed. As Jesus declared to his disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2–3). The truth is, man is looking not only for the cure of their sickness, they are also looking for their true home—the place where God offers healing, recovery, renewal, and restoration. He really is the “home” every sick human heart longs for!

Obviously when it comes to loving my children through their sickness, there’s a thing or two I could learn from our heavenly Father who doesn’t give fist bumps, but loving and gracious hugs and kisses. The good news is that my wife has nailed loving our children in this way. How do I know? Because she now has strep! 🙂