Abraham Lincoln once said, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on my side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." Similar to the days of Lincoln, we live in a sharply divided nation. We are under constant pressure to choose a side in regard to every imaginable issue and even in regard to some things we could never have imagined would become the subject of controversy. In the face of this pressure, some believers choose to reshape their spiritual beliefs to conform with their political views. They go through a process of dismissing or reinterpreting any portion of scripture which conflicts with the platform of the political party they identify with. There are also people who do not necessarily believe or understand the Bible, but try to support their views with scripture which has been taken out of context. This is a serious violation of a cardinal principle of theology and will likely lead to a mistaken notion that one's ideology is backed by God when it is actually at odds with His will and character. We should never think that the Bible exists to make our personal opinions sound more authoritative. On the contrary, we humbly rely on scripture to give us wisdom and understanding. It is God's revelation of truth regarding temporal and eternal life and it is intended to shape and inform our understanding of how we are to live our lives. It is our compass, guiding us through the stormy seas of conflict, misinformation and outright lies, bringing us to a place of clarity, peace and truth. We desperately need that right now.
Did God really say ...?
Those who dismiss or try to rewrite God's word to conform with today's culture consider themselves to be more enlightened than those whom God inspired to write the books of the Bible. Aside from vanity, there is no basis for their claim of greater understanding of spiritual realities. Their "greater revelations" are nothing more than an effort to spiritualize their political beliefs. These people have fallen prey to a deception which dates all the way back to the Garden of Eden where Satan subtly tricked Adam and Eve first into questioning God's word, and then into denying His word (see Genesis 3). Since that day, throughout history, people have fallen for the same old lie, believing that they know better than God. Not only is God's wisdom and truthfulness being doubted, but His love and goodness is questioned as well. Falling into this trap is the root cause of all sin and its consequences. As believers, we must guard against this by reaffirming our trust in God's inerrant word. We do not do so blindly, but through prayer, study and application of the word, its truthfulness becomes evident. Without it, we are left with a mixture of opinions and theories generously sprinkled with an assortment of factoids harvested from the internet ... or was it that guy on late night cable TV? In his statement, "God is always right", Lincoln expressed the foundational truth upon which every believer should build their worldview. The Bible is God's eternal word and it is our source f absolute, objective truth.
Aligning Yourself with God
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul wrote, " Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." In order to form a truly Biblical worldview and have it affect our world, most of us will require some renovations in our thinking. Some of us will need to burn the worldly blueprints, demolish the death trap we've built and start from scratch on a new foundation, God's word (see Matthew 7:24-27). God's word does not merely provide information, it is His agent of transformation. You can begin this process by putting aside the preconceptions, misinformation and worldly influences which had previously shaped your thinking. Prayerfully, with an open heart and mind, take a fresh look at the Bible and see what it has to say about the issues you are wrestling with. Learn to see things from a "God's eye view".
In recent years, I have been reading a Bible in which I have not underlined anything, I haven't highlighted anything and I've made no notes in the margins. All of those Bible study practices are good, but my intention is to see scripture with new eyes, without bringing my own agenda. I want to be open to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to me today. Perhaps I will see something I have never seen before or perhaps I will see a familiar truth in a new light. There is always greater understanding awaiting those who are spiritually hungry and open to whatever the Spirit may show us, even when it differs from our habitual thought patterns. This is one way God works to bring change in our lives, making us more like Jesus. Always keep in mind that there are no "new truths" to be discovered in the Bible, we study in order to gain greater personal understanding of the truths already revealed and established as sound Christian doctrine. We must interpret scripture in the context of the passage and use the Bible to help interpret itself.
As God's word does its work, you will discover that your mind is being rewired and you are being transformed from the inside out. In Isaiah chapter 55, God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." If your thoughts, beliefs or political views do not align with God's word, just remember what Abe said, "God is always right." We must consciously and carefully choose which forces we allow to shape our values and beliefs. In the light of God's word, prayerfully reexamine your worldview in order to ensure you are on God's side.
Thy Kingdom Come
As the Holy Spirit makes God's truth a reality in your heart and mind, what do you do with it? It's time to put it into action. Wisdom is the application of Biblical principles to real-world issues. God's word is to be applied to every aspect of life. When it comes to politics, even though you may find that a particular party aligns with your Bible-based beliefs more closely than another party, do not allow yourself to be caught up in the herd mentality. I assure you that no manmade ideology or organization is ever going to get it all right. At best, they will get only some of it right. Our commitment to God and His word must, in every case, override any political or social loyalties we may have.
In closing, let's reflect on Lincoln's words one more time: "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on my side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." When you are pressured to choose a side, remember there is your side, their side and God's side. Choose wisely.