by David Phelps
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa
As I write this, the 2008 Presidential campaign is in full swing. Iowa and New Hampshire have already had their moments in the sun and the candidates now look forward to—or in some cases perhaps dread—contests in other states, including here in Missouri in just one short month. Each candidate tells us, the American people, that we need something: leadership, security, prosperity, change, etc. And each one tells us, repeatedly, that he or she is the only one who can give us what we need. The others, we are told, are liars, bums, and worse, who will run the country into the proverbial ground.
But we know something the world—and, apparently, most of the candidates—doesn’t know: All these things come from God, not from politicians or governments. No matter how noble or well-intentioned, ultimately, they cannot give us what we need. Only God can do that. Apart from God, none of us will have what we truly need. Let’s look at some of these “needs” and see how God provides for them:
Let’s start with leadership. Only God can lead us where we need to go and only God can get us to our destination. In Old Testament times, the Psalmist wrote, in the familiar 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd . . . He leads me beside still waters. . . . He leads me in paths of
righteousness . . .”(Psa. 23:1a, 2b, 3a ESV). Jesus echoed this when he compared his followers to sheep and himself to a “good shepherd”: “‘The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. . . . and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.’” (John 10:3b, 4b ESV).
Again, true security comes from God, not from armies or weapons or policies. The Psalmist wrote, “Put not your trust in princes,” (Psa. 146:3a). Only God deserves our trust, for only God cannot fail us (Josh. 21:45). The prophet Isaiah proclaimed to the people of Israel,
“. . . theLord will go before you,” (Isa. 52:12a ESV). And Paul told the Christians in Rome, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31b ESV). If we are on God’s side, then God will be on our side.
As for prosperity, Jesus told the people, “‘. . . your Father knows what you need before you ask him. . . . But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’” (Matt. 6:8b, 33 ESV). We have a God who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psa. 50:10b ESV). Surely such a God can provide for all our needs. And as God provides for us, we are to provide for those who are less fortunate. Moses commanded the Israelites, “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother,” (Deut. 15:7 ESV).
Finally, change: The only change that truly matters is a change in ourselves, a change from within. And only God can transform us on the inside where it matters. Paul told the Roman Christians, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2 ESV). And he wrote to the Corinthians that they were
“. . . beingtransformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Cor. 3:18b ESV).
Our country—and our world—are full of people who are looking for answers; for leadership, security, prosperity, change, and all the rest. We know the one who can provide our needs and theirs. We have “good news” for them. Politicians are well known for their “campaign promises.” But those promises are all too frequently empty or broken. God’s promises are real and lasting. King David gratefully prayed, “‘And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.’” (2 Sam. 7:28 ESV). But best of all, John wrote, “And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.” (1 John 2:25 ESV). We can spread the news that everyone can count on God’s promises; God will not disappoint us.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Heb. 10:23 ESV.)