It has been well documented that Barak Obama has been riding the hope train right into the Democrat nomination (if he can shake that pesky Hillary). His rally in Oregon recently looked like the Beatles performing at Shea Stadium.
I was thinking that God must have a real sense of déjà vu as He watches the people of a nation that once publically honored Him clamor for a human leader to give them hope and change. Then I got sidetracked as I wondered if an omnipotent God can even experience déjà vu? That gave me tired head so I moved on.
Would God look at these rallies and think of another group who had hope and change at their disposal but then chose to reject it? God wanted to bless His nation Israel. But they wanted a king who they believed would give them everything they wanted. Remember the story in Samuel?
Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”
Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.” (I Samuel 8, NLT)
God gave Samuel a warning to give to His people that this might not be the best idea. God warned them that the king would take a tenth of their crops and flocks. Actually I would think about clamoring for a leader that would only take a tenth of my earnings. But I digress. God warned them about other consequences of putting their faith in an earthly king. Their response was typical.
But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”
I see so many parallels in our culture to that story. We know that it did not work out like the nation of Israel dreamed that it would. I see many Christians in America falling into the same trap that Samuel warned about so long ago. And perhaps it is not a party we are rejecting when we put or hope in a man. Perhaps we, like the Israelites, have lost sight of our real hope. I used Mr.Obama as my example because he regularly used the words hope and change in his stump speeches. For the record, placing our hope in any candidate (John McCain or any others) is just as ill advised.
We are deluded into thinking that hope lies in a leader or a political party. We believe that change will come because of kindred politicians or better laws or lawsuits that establish justice as we see it. We think that the right leader will help educate every child no matter their circumstance. We hope that this political savior will provide healthcare for every person at no cost to them and that somehow we can be immune to the cost. This leader will help the poor find jobs and realize their every dream. And I picture God looking at His millions of followers with a heart sad with the knowledge that this earthly dream of hope and change will not satisfy. God has blessed this country with so much in money and resources. So much of what we now demand our government to do could be accomplished if God’s people simply read, trusted and followed His Word.
I can’t help but think that God has given us, the church, just about everything we need to make a huge difference in meeting the needs that we expect Washington to address. And that would give hope and change to people that obviously are looking for those elusive words in odd places or from the “king” that might reside in Washington, D.C.
What makes me most sad is that so many people really seem to be placing their hope for happiness on a political candidate. I do believe that leaders make a difference. It is very important that followers of Jesus vote with Biblical knowledge and conviction. I care deeply about making an informed and prayerful choice. But I never place my hope or desire for change on a politician. The word hope is used about 80 times in the New Testament. The first appearance of the word in the NIV translation pretty much lays out my belief.
“In his name (Jesus) the nations will put their hope." (Matthew 12, NIV)
Paul wrote about the hope that I have in his letter to the Romans.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Colossians we read this praise from Paul as he relates how hope based on the eternal God should make a difference.
For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
That is a hope that I know will not disappoint. As for change, I would be pleasantly surprised if our leaders in Washington would work together for us. But I will not be surprised if they do not. The important change for me has already happened. I became a new person when I placed by full trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
I have hope that is real in the promises and character of God. I am changed because of Christ. Because of those two facts I can deal with whatever happens in this election. I learned my lesson in previous elections. I thought our country was doomed because my candidate did not win. Yet God’s plan did not cease. People continued to come to faith, grow in faith and serve Him in ways that gave real hope and change to others.
I will be active in the political process. I will read, listen, pray, debate and study the issues and candidates. As long as I am still breathing I will vote everytime the chance is there. But I will continue to trust God for my hope and worship Him for the change that has already happened in my life.
Soaring rhetoric about new direction, hope and change sound really good to ears discouraged by life. But the truth is all three are available even this day as a free gift of grace opened by faith. Why wait till November for potential hope and change when you can vote with your heart for real hope and change today.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.