Do you know what time it is? Do you know what to do about it?
NOTE: It’s a few minutes before 6 am on Election Tuesday morning as I write this. I’m prepared to make a bold prediction on the results of today’s election. I’m setting the timer on this post so that it will launch at 6 pm CST. Let’s see if I get it right. No edits. No retakes. No back-peddling.
TUESDAY MORNING EDIT. Yep. I was right. No edits necessary. 🙂 No election result can change a single thing I’m about to say. That’s the beautiful thing about rock-solid truth. It stands unmoved in the low-visibility dust storm of human events and opinions.
So, back to my original questions: Do you know what time it is? And, do you know what to do about it?
do you know what time it is?
When I ask if you know the time, I’m not talking about the hour and the minute. I’m talking about the season. The era of US and world events in which we find ourselves.
I have witnessed a lot of worrisome behavior on the part of Christians during this contentious election process. The caustic rhetoric has done it’s intended job — to strip away our varnish of faith and civility and expose our frightened and angry core.
The candidates’ campaign teams have wanted to motivate us. Because frightened, angry people are motivated people. They have done their work with devastating skill: A candidate you hardly knew a few months ago has grown to become one of your primary ways of sizing up the intelligence and motives of your friends and family. This candidate may have even become a part of your identity in a way that makes God himself jealous. (I believe there is a commandment about this, but I digress.)
Believe it or not, I see an upside to the fear and anger this election has revealed. Really? Really. I think for perhaps the first time in my lifetime, we Christians know what time it is. We understand the season. We agree with the Bible’s assessment of our times: our times are dark and nearer the end than ever.
We want to do something about it.
When I encounter deep darkness around me, I often turn to a rousing passage in Romans to get me fired up. It’s my go-to pre-game speech:
“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (Romans 13:11–14 NLT) [emphasis added]
It’s like the Apostle Paul is in the locker room pushing me around, chest-bumping, and helmet-slapping me. “It’s now or never! How bad do you want it? Strap the armor on! Let’s go to war! Let’s win this one for Jesus!” I’m ready to run onto the field, into the darkness, against overwhelming odds, and deliver a blow for God or die trying.
That’s how many of us have felt in the ramp-up to this election. Times are dark. This culture is running sideways and upside down. They are coming for us. The numbers and momentum are in the enemy’s favor. We must go to war for Jesus. It’s now or never. We must go to war.
To that assessment, I say, “Finally.” Welcome to reality. Welcome to a view of the world that’s a little less whimsical and a little more biblical. Some of us have seen the storm clouds gathering for decades. Glad you finally know what time it is.
Which leads me to my second question: Do you know what to do about it?
do you know what to do about it?
So, here’s my bold prediction on the results of today’s election: You will feel sick about it.
Late tonight, you will turn off the TV, finish purging your Facebook friends, and put down your phone. And you will feel like a little bit of innocence has been taken from you. You will feel like you need a shower.
Even if your person wins, you will come away realizing once again that this world is dark and we nearer than ever to the end. Your fear and anger will either drive you to burrow deep into the distractions of everyday life, or to lash out against “them” — whoever “they” are.
In the aftermath of this election — this national catharsis of fear and anger — the question is: What’s our course of action in light of the fact this world is dark and closer to the end than ever? What’s our battle plan? What’s our strategy for defeating this sickening darkness?
Believe it or not, this is one of those rare times when there is a clear-cut, universal, rock-solid, dirt-simple solution. And, it’s even in the Bible, so you know it’s good.
an urgent strategy
The strategy has been staring me in the face for years, but I missed in until just a few weeks ago. The answer is hidden right in that passage from Romans that has been my go-to pep talk to go to war against the darkness of our times. Look at it again. Look closely. It’s right here:
“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11 NLT) [emphasis added]
The answer is in the “this.” I feel the urgency. I hope you feel that urgency, too. We’ve GOT TO DO SOMETHING. TIME IS RUNNING OUT. WAKE UP. Ok. But, what do we do? What, in heaven’s name, is the thing that is “all the more urgent”? What is “this”?!?
The secret lies just a couple of verses above. This is going to be a bit shocking, so hang on. Are you ready to strap on your armor? Ready to go to war for Jesus with urgency and desperation against the deadly forces arrayed against our faith and our nation? Ok, then here’s the urgent plan that we must execute:
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:8–11 NLT)
Are you sick and tired or watching our nation crumble around us? Are you keyed up for a fight? Are you ready to storm the gates of hell, sword drawn to fight for all that is good, right, holy, and just? Good.
Love. Your. Neighbor. Bottom line. Love your neighbor.
the small answer to big problems
The answer to the big problems we face is surprisingly small. From God’s perspective, the way you choose to carry yourself among the people you encounter everyday could not be more important. This is everything. And, “this is all the more urgent” considering the time. We are deep into the night. It’s late. It’s time to wake up, to strap on the armor of light, and carry the presence of Jesus into our immediate circle.
This flips the script. Instead of framing the people around us — the other party, the other group, the other side — as the enemy we must see that in God’s battle plan we’re actually fighting for those people against an insidious spiritual enemy.
This is also a deep source of hope. Just when we begin to think that “little ol’ me” can’t possibly matter in the struggle, we learn that God’s plan for addressing the darkness of our world has involved the little people all along. That’s the strategy. That’s the urgent plan: We see and address the joys, sorrows, pains, and pleasures of the people in the place where we stand right now.
This is our protest. This our sugar in the gas tank of a corrupt system. This is our stick in the spokes of a wheel rolling downhill to destruction. This is our resistance. This is our bold act of defiance.
This is our deeply drawn furrow in the sand. This is where we stubbornly resist until the sunrise.
Love. Your. Neighbor.
the one remaining question
We know what time it is. We know what to do about it. There’s only one remaining question: Do we have the faith and courage to execute the plan?
Let’s direct the fear and anger exposed in this election to it’s proper, spiritual targets. Let’s abandon the nagging sins that have us running a low-grade spiritual fever. Let’s get focused and go to war.
Love. Your. Neighbor.