So counsels Ray Ortlund in his book When God Comes to Church, a book written twenty years ago, but one I’m reading for the first time (and loving), currently.
The chapter I’m considering now is an exposition of Hosea 14. Here’s the first four verses:
Return, Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
2 Take words with you
and return to the LORD.
Say to him:
“Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips. l
3 Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount warhorses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion.
Of course, America is not Israel and we as a nation are not putting our trust in Assyria.
But, we, the people of God, may be doing just that. During Hosea’s day, the people of God were nervous. There were bullies in the ancient near east with powerful armies. In their fear and faithlessness, Israel made allegiances with these bullies. Ortlund writes, “What is wrong with this picture? Simply put, the people of God feel nervous if all they have is God. So they’re fawning before the bullies of worldly power, that’s what’s wrong.”
And the application for today, “Today we profess that we have taken refuge in the King of kings and Lord of lords. At the same time we sometimes stoop to curry favor with politicians and earthly powers, as if the safety of the church depended on human protection and political favor…Jesus Christ did not come to this earth so that we could subordinate his eternal kingdom to any human cause. Nations rise and fall. And rather than panic [or riot] with those who have no hope firmer than Election Day victories, we who name Christ as Lord should present to the world living validation of his all-sufficiency, come what may.”
Then a sentence I, and maybe you too, need to read twice, “Courageous emotional detachment from human approval is the natural outcome of strong spiritual attachment to God. By contrast, the people of God in Hosea’s day gambled their future on placating worldly powers. They not only discredited their witness to the world, they also antagonized God.”
That should cause Christians, Democrat, Republican or Independent, to stop short and wonder where they’ve placed their chips. Trusting in earthly power brought about God’s judgment and kept God’s people from experiencing the good he had from them. Let us, his church, not make the same mistakes.