Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Our first reading is the account of Jeremiah’s scroll – prophecy he received directly from the Lord about His anger towards the nations of Israel. It was read to the all the citizens, and received with appropriate sorrow and trembling; the king reacted differently:
The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. Jehudi brought it from Elishama’s room and read it to the king as all his officials stood by. It was late autumn, and the king was in a winterized part of the palace, sitting in front of a fire to keep warm. Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up. Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard. Jeremiah 36:21-24(NLT)
The Apostle Paul also wrote a letter to the church at Corinth about their sin and God’s judgment. Our second reading is Paul’s follow-up letter about their response:
I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 7:8-10(NLT)
What a contrast between King Jehoiakim and his subjects. One sat on a throne without fear of God or repentance of any kind. The other, common people, who trembled at the thought of offending Holy God.
We are in an election year, and those who would be our rulers in this country will talk about religion at various points in the process. Donald Trump did, claiming he has never actually asked God to forgive him. He said: I just go on and try to do a better job from there. 
Now, I have no special ability to know what is in Donald Trump’s heart, nor anyone else for that matter. But, it’s like many other things – actions speak louder than words; you may not be able to see a person’s heart, but you know what humility, respect for God, and repentance looks like.
Understand, I’m not singling-out Mr. Trump (he does that well-enough without my help); the fact is that every one of us has sinned and needs repentance (Romans 3:23).
What I am pointing-out (by way of Paul’s letter) is the spiritual consequences of a leader who thumbs his nose at God. Even worldly sorrow, lacking repentance (recognizing you may not have made good choices, and need to go on and try to do a better job from there), only leads to spiritual death, according to Paul.
And that affects the subjects of the king – in their case it was being conquered by enemy nations. Who knows what would be in store for the citizens of America with leaders who do not fear God?
Let me be totally-clear: I hate making political statements, or giving political advice (especially when nobody’s asking), but we all have a choice to make about who will control our representative government, and I make mine after running the possibilities through a theological/ethical/moral filter based on what the person who wants my vote both says and does.
So far, I haven’t seen much to shout about.
In the end, I do not want a Methodist, or a Baptist, or a Presbyterian, per se in the Oval Office. But I most certainly want a leader who fears God and is humble enough to act like it.