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Friday, June 13, 2014

God and political victory

David Brat recently beat U. S. House majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary in Virginia. Brat, at his victory celebration, made no secret of his belief that God made this possible. See here for an audio of less than a minute of his speech, backed by photo. If you want to see more of that speech, search for something like "Brat victory speech video" or "Brat victory God video," and there will be plenty of choices, including some mocking Brat, and perhaps, some mocking God -- I haven't seen them all!

Mr. Brat was right to thank God. If there is an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God in the universe (or outside the universe) then He either directed this election result, or allowed it. 

But did God direct this election result, because it's a critical part of His purpose for the US, or the world at large, or did He just allow it? We don't know, but it was probably the latter.

Why say that? I live in South Carolina. There were a number of candidates for office, in the Republican primary that was held on the same day as the Virginia primary, that seem to have held political views very much like those of Mr. Brat. These candidates also made clear that they believed in God during their campaigns. But they didn't win. It would seem that God is not very interested in helping Tea Party politicians win. He's probably no more interested in doing that than, say, in helping politicians who are strong supporters of labor unions, or than helping Mr. Cantor to win. He is much more interested in making you and me, and Mr. Brat, and Mr. Cantor, more like Christ:

Christ says "Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked--the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours." C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity: What One Must Believe to Be a Christian. New York: Macmillan, 1952. p. 167.

Bad things happen to good people. The book of Job reminds us of that. Job was a good man -- God said so. But he lost his children, his possessions, most of his servants, and his good health. This was not because he had sinned, even though his comforters spent several chapters trying to convince Job that it was. It was a demonstration of God's power and love, and of Job's faithfulness under severe trial. (The Bible doesn't actually say that God ever explained that he was a demonstration of this type to Job, by the way.)

There's also Hebrews 11, which describes the heroes and heroines of faith:
35b Others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others were tried by mocking and scourging, yes, moreover by bonds and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned. They were sawn apart. They were tempted. They were slain with the sword. They went around in sheep skins and in goat skins; being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, mountains, caves, and the holes of the earth. (World English Bible, public domain) People can follow God, and have things go horribly wrong, as the world measures success and happiness. Most of the people in the verses above probably didn't get back their possessions, and have replacement children, as Job did. They just suffered and died.

Good people lose elections. Good people win elections, or gain power by other means, and turn bad, yielding to various temptations of power and adulation. Bad people also win elections, or take over by other means. Sometimes, no doubt, God advances certain political leaders (Maybe not always those of good character!). He did that in the case of King David. Perhaps He did it in the case of President Washington, or President Lincoln, or, for all we know, in the original election of Eric Cantor, or even in the primary victory of David Brat or in the election of Brat's Democratic opponent. But most of the time, God has more important plans. Win or lose, God is good, and we should thank Him for His love and care.

It must be really painful to spend your time, your money, and your emotions, trying to win an election, and to end up losing, and, perhaps, have had your character publicly condemned by your opponent(s), and your family's privacy violated. We should be grateful for politicians willing to run, whether they win or lose, whether we agree with their views or not.

Thanks for reading.

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