It's election season. Time for endless bouts of “he said / he said” when nothing that was really said gets said. Every four years we hold a bachelor auction for the leader of the free world. Contestants strut across the stage trying to look the part. A bevy of under-paid attendants with clipboards study the crowd's every move to see which wardrobe to wear and what words evoke emotion. We poke and prod the candidates from every angle while they whirl around the room trying to keep their good side in the best light. The goal is to look appealing long enough to get the greater part of the admiring milieu to check a box, complete a line, punch a card, flip a lever next to their name. This is part of the beauty of a democratic system – the “power” can be said to rest ultimately with the people. We CHOOSE who we want to represent us. Or at least 49.5% of us choose who will represent us. That is the question being asked and answered through the seemingly perpetual campaign cycle, “Who do YOU THINK would do the best job?” (Nevermind that many are likely to actually answer the question, “Who do YOU THINK looks the most like a President?”) As much as we may want to brandish the label of a capitalist, socialist or even communist – our vote is cast as a narcissist. When we cast a vote, we are saying, “This is what I THINK is best.” Even if we are not voting for a platform that affords the best opportunity for our own personal comfort, we are saying, “This is what I THINK is best for ALL of us.” It is what a democratic republic is predicated upon. We all, at some level (even if it is as a single vote among a throng of other votes), have the option to voice our approval of one candidate over another. We have the chance to let our voice be heard and put in our opinion.
A danger of living according to the rules of a democratic society in the world (at least for a disciple of Jesus Christ) is that we begin to apply the same representative government system to our true Kingdom home under the reign of King Jesus. You can hear it in some of our terminology. We may not realize it, but there is an undercurrent of “rule by decree of the people” in the way we describe our coming to faith. How often have you heard a plea to, “Make Jesus the Lord of your life” or the like? The problem with that call is that you don't vote for Jesus. Jesus is not the King of Kings at your approval. He IS the King! You can approve or not approve – it doesn't affect His office, only your relation to His office. Therefore, Jesus doesn't campaign. He doesn't pander. He doesn't solicit votes. There is a reason that God chose to come in the flesh into a system of government that would not be confused by the idea of a king. The democratic ideal of personal choice and representation is a wonderful ideal among men who are equal. But in the economy of the Kingdom, we are not dealing with equal entities. We are not God's equals. We are His subjects. He rules by the power of His own wisdom. As the Psalmist writes, (in comparing the Almighty to the metal gods of the nations) “Our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases.” In Romans 11, Paul quotes both Isaiah and Job in asking, “who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” Job would go on to ask, “who can say, 'You have done wrong'?” This should be terrifying to men! And it would be DEBILITATING if not for the decrees that this benevolent sovereign has made.
The INCREDIBLE Gospel is that this self-approving ruler of all creation of whom it is said, “he does all he pleases” has also decreed all of Isaiah 53! Here the prophet declares that it was this same King's will to crush the servant (Himself!) and to make his life an offering for sin and that he has laid on this servant the iniquity of us all. He has also decreed that whoever believes in Son will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). He has decreed that whoever believes in their heart that God raised Christ from the dead and confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9). He has decreed that all that the Father has given to the Son will come to Him and that whoever comes to him he will never cast out (John 6:37)! He doesn't ask for your vote to be the sacrifice for sin – He decrees it!
The decrees of the King do not require your ascent but your surrender. You don't vote for the Sovereign, you bow before Him. Maybe that's a total change of perspective or maybe it's just a subtle change of terminology – but it's a radical form of government.
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