Faithful to the End

Faithful to the End
A perspective on winning and losing elections
by John Stemberger
 
So your guy didn’t win the election?  Maybe several of your candidates didn’t win.  What about all the time, money and effort you spent?  What about the credibility of your personal support?  What about the countless hours of volunteering, sending emails and talking to neighbors and friends?  Are you discouraged? Disillusioned?  Upset?

Well at the risk of sounding insensitive, welcome to politics in a fallen world.

I was speaking at a conference in Jacksonville when a man raised his hand and told me he was greatly discouraged by all the insanity of where the country is going politically. He asked me what I could tell him to encourage him.  While I can really sympathize with this man’s feelings, my response was straightforward. “Faithfulness is the goal.”

For the world, “winning” is not just the goal, it’s everything. For the believer, faithfulness is the goal.  Now don’t get me wrong: I want to win.  And we will fight hard to win.  In a sense I have devoted my life to winning the battles we fight.  But in God’s economy, the focus is not merely winning but on us being faithful to the end.

Do we stop proclaiming the Gospel or speaking truth in love because the world rejects the truth?  Do we give up on evangelism because we are not “winning” and seeing results with unbelievers?  Do we give up as parents because we are not seeing “results” in our children?  No, we develop a holy resilience to failure and setbacks and press on in faithful obedience to any task that we are called to accomplish.

In politics, as with evangelism, God simply calls us to be faithful to the message and the task.  The results are in His providential hands.  When history is behind us, we rest in His sovereign plan.  We do our best to promote the virtuous and expose evil and deception.  We work hard to elect the most principled candidates.  We steward our citizenship by educating ourselves and others and voting with the best possible information we can find.  But once we have discharged our responsibility, we can be satisfied and feel God’s pleasure in the fact that we were simply faithful.

As for me and my house, we are done with the emotional ups and downs of the roller coaster of election wins and losses—super elated with a win or totally depressed with a loss.  We are learning the discipline of being content with the knowledge that we were faithful to do everything within our influence to elect principled men and women who will stand for life, marriage, and family.

It is natural and normal to be disappointed with defeat and overjoyed with victory.  I am not suggesting we deny the emotional responses that come with winning or losing.  What I am suggesting is that we not become emotional slaves to the circumstances one way or another but instead sense God’s highest satisfaction in knowing we were merely faithful to do our part, irrespective of the outcome.

This understanding aligns us with an eternal perspective.  It protects us from burnout and it gives us greater endurance and resilience.  Most importantly it postures us to humble ourselves before the Creator of history itself to recognize that we can only see and know in part and ultimately His ways are higher, deeper and wiser than ours.

My favorite historical place to visit in Washington, D.C. is the Arlington National Cemetery.  To walk quietly at the feet of more than a quarter million gravestones representing American soldiers from the Civil War to Iraq is a profound experience.  Looking across what appears to be an endless sea of young men and women who have died so I might live with freedom is a sobering if not a completely transforming experience.  Suddenly everything comes into perspective.  In that moment I recommit myself with greater tenacity and courage to what I am called to do and realize that any disappointment or discouragement I have experienced is light and momentary compared to those who have paid the ultimate price.

Mother Teresa spent her lifetime serving the poor and unborn in physical conditions which seemed insurmountable, yet her timeless admonition still gives fresh motivation today.  She said “We do nothing. God does everything.  All glory must be returned to Him.  God has not called me to be successful.  He called me to be faithful.”  Would that we could all have this same steady and eternal perspective when we face the wins and losses of life.

 

6 thoughts on “Faithful to the End

  1. This article was sent to me by a friend and this was my returned reply.

    Paul addressed in Romans 14 some as being “weak in faith,” which we must recognize as being in contrast to those who actually possessed the faith which comes from an unmodified or polluted hearing of God’s Word. Such faith is the reward given only to hearts that are diligently seeking to hear from God’s Spirit and such hearts are then required to walk the path to obtain a true and growing understanding of God’s will. (Surely I need not expound on the error of those with double mindedness, or such as have eyes that are not singled towards Jesus Christ our King.)

    Having said all that, I feel I must address the natural tendency of people when hearing such words immediately assume I am contrasting myself with the “weak in faith” and making bold claims of personal insight a clear understanding of God’s will, however that is not my claim or point, and to try and refute with many words is simply a waste of time to all.

    Nonetheless, according to Paul’s word, there are those who are accepted in the Lord even though they are “weak in faith” which is evident by their actions being limited in areas of consumption or by their energy or focus being given to a specific day or time. Paul counters such with those who have what I would call an effective faith, (for the Holy Spirit did not compel Paul to contrast the “weak in faith” with the strong in faith). It should be evident to all that those with an effective faith are those who are having ears to hear and are consequently walking by the Spirit untangled from the affairs of this world and effectively laboring for the gory and Kingdom of God.

    Sometimes we might need to remind ourselves that God’s Kingdom is not here or there, as some tangible place that we can point to or say to a non-believer, “See, there is the Kingdom of God.” No, rather the Kingdom of God is just like the earnest of the Spirit, it abides in the heart of man when the King is clearly given the throne of one’s heart. At that point, since one has obviously understood the need to forsake his own life and ambitions for those of his King’s, the life he now lives should be solely spent for the will of the King. Such a life will prove, through clear hearing and obedience to royal directives, what is the good and acceptable will of the King/God . . . or prove an effective faith evident through faithfulness.

    The lives of those weak in faith are continually manipulated by their sense of right and wrong to engage/disengage out of fear of offense actions/positions/things which rest in direct conflict with those who have effective faith and are in fact doing as noted above; walking as children of light (seeing/hearing/knowing) and proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

    Nonetheless, Paul insinuates there is an acceptance that God has for the weak of faith in that what they do, they are doing as unto the Lord . . . but that cannot change that what they do is still in evidence of imperfect faith and therefore cannot prove or convince men of the will of God since their own actions are not based upon a clear understanding of God’s will. At best they are but laboring in their own might from a religious perspective tainted by the notions of this world to which they are affixing the Name of the Lord, performing a labor of wood, hay, and stubble that cannot bring them into a true liberty in Christ. It has never been, nor ever will be, that God’s Kingdom is known or established by the might or wisdom of men, but only by the power of His Spirit in consecrated and sanctified servants of the Most High.

    Just because this land of America boasts of rights given to men and responsibilities from them back unto itself, that does not mean those that are God’s should embrace them or labor under them. We are called out of this world; we are in it but not of it. We should be seeking a new City whose builder and maker is God and if the Lord tarries, then like all those in Hebrews 11 we too will die “having not obtained the promise” . . . for flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, which we seek. We must never forget, as the redeemed we are bought with a price and we are not our own, we have no rights unless we are first responsible to walk in the light of the King’s will. Jesus clearly told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world, else would His servants fight. This world waxes old and is soon to be rolled up like a garment by its Creator so that a new heaven and earth may revealed for those that love His coming, those to whom He will clearly say “Well down, good and faithful servants.”

    All the great awakenings around the world have been of people exasperated by the vanity of their own labors towards God’s Kingdom because they had weak faith, and were thus brought to a place of real brokenness and an absolute surrender to God’s will and wisdom. Until then they truly did not know, understand or surrender themselves fully to the Lord, but once they came to that place, God saw fit to pour out afresh His Holy Spirit anew and both those in the church and the world were pierced through their hearts with the conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment because they witness once again the divine fruit of holiness in that remnant of God’s people.

    I simply do not have a faith which allows me to be entangled in the political means of this world; I cannot escape viewing them as vain attempts to be an effectual or responsible witness, as labors or weapons which cannot work a lasting change for the glory of God. My recently reading of Hudson Taylors’ answer to God’s call to China and of the consequent effectual working of the Spirit of God there, or pondering the life of William Booth and the global impact of his effectual faith/faithful service to the King of his heart leaves me desirous of something much greater than a man of similar morals or economical prowess leading living in the White House. Such a man as Mitt Romney cannot make a nation head when their actions by God’s wisdom and judgments have made them the tail. Every good gift comes from above; it is only by the King of kings living on the surrendered throne of people’s hearts that true change is wrought in men, families, communities and nations, and this through the working of their effective faith trusting His Spirit to make those willing into new creatures.

    Perhaps now before the dwindling night is completely spent and after so many of God’s people having suffered the loss of futile labor of vanity by trying to vote in a reprobate as a leader for America out of darkness… perhaps now, they will give themselves fully to seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, for His glory and not their own selfish wants and desires. It is a time like never before for prayer and fasting and seeking the Lord while He may be found. A time to stand in judgment with God against ourselves first, that God may refine us and give us ears to hear. May we all humble ourselves and seek to come to such an effective faith that we might successfully work for His glory and Name’s sake while we still have some time left. Effective faith, or faithfulness, if it is truly wrought in obedience to God’s will always work a change. For faith comes by hearing and that hearing God’s word . . . and God’s word doesn’t ever return to Him void.

    Peace.

    Brother William

    • William, since you linked to us I saw this post on your blog and just wanted to clarify this article is not written in response to the win or loss of any political candidate. It was actually written by our president two years ago and has been reprinted here.

      • Thanks for the reply Sandy. I also wish to that the article “Faithful to the End” was not the focus of my reply to my friend, but merely served as a catalyst for my reply.

        It is clear that God’s people have varying convictions on voting while God has a sovereign influence over who will rule a class of people. My response was simply an effort to put forth my convictions whereby others might gain an understanding of them, even if mutual agreement is not the end result.

        There is no room for judging and bickering about the election and voting among God’s people. We have to respect that each has a perspective forged by heritage, religious affiliation and hopefully prayerful communion with God seeking His Kingdom and will which abides and is fulfilled within man’s heart . . . and not the White House.

        Peace, live for the King.

        Hope to meet you on the other side.

        William

  2. Pingback: Effective Faith versus Weak Faith « Gates of the City

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  4. I think this election was a message to your organization to stay out of the peoples politics. The message should have been heard loud and clear. There’s no place for superstition, bigotry and decisiveness that your organization represents in our political system.

    Donald Veasey