Monday, May 10, 2010
We have a bigger role than submitting a ballot
“When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability”. (Proverbs 28:2, NLT)
I was torn between doing a Mother’s Day blog to honor both my mother and the mother of my children (both very deserving of the glowing written piece I had in mind), or a blog as a citizen of a country that is on the verge of undergoing a great change in governance.
I was leaning towards the former, since Jhean and I are not voting in this election (long and very frustrating story) and we were quite involved in the Mother’s Day prep for our church. But the message of Pastor Peter Tanchi, our senior pastor and in my opinion one of the best Christian speakers in the country, was so good that I decided to do the latter. The message was so, so, so spot on. I’m going to try (keyword: try…I’m nowhere near Pastor Peter) to transfer his message to this blog.
Well, we Filipinos have a huge role to play today. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, circumstances dictate that the family wouldn’t be able to vote, which is such a shame because we have very strong opinions about our choices for both the local and national elections. All we can do is give vocal support (“molar support,” as they humorously say in these parts). But boy, is today’s decision important. The bible even says so, as you can see with the verse that I used to start this blog.
What kind of people should we cast our ballot for? While it was given in a different context, Exodus 18:21 shows what kind of guy (or girl, as is the case nowadays) we should vote for:
“But select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. “ (Ex. 18:21, NIV)
But after all the dust settles and this country’s new leader is chosen, what’s next? We just go on our merry, irresponsible, get-me-to-the-US-embassy-quick ways? Or are we to do a task that’s bigger, much bigger, than submitting a ballot? Pastor Peter proposes that voting today is just one of the many duties as a citizen. There’s much more to be done.
One thing we should do is to be a good example. In the case of the aftermath of the elections, it’s to respect and cooperate with whoever wins. A member of my d-group and a dear friend of the family put it well. She posted her personal prayer as a Facebook status message the read something like (this is far from verbatim), “Lord, I have my bet, but I am willing to submit myself to whoever You put in office.” Beautiful.
Whether you like it or not, God placed governing authorities over us. Whoever wins, wins only because God allowed it, whether it be to bless us or to curse us. The first two verses of Romans 13 puts it this way, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Rom. 13:1-2, NIV)
But you may object and say, “But our government is so corrupt! Am I supposed to submit to something so horrid?” Well, who was in power when this verse was written? It was the Romans, who ruled over the Jewish people, destroyed the temple, kept the audience of the book of Romans as slaves, and who carried the biggest misdeed of all time when they crucified the Son of God…yet readers we’re commanded to submit to them. If the audience of the biblical books were tasked to do that, then we are to do so to the Philippine gov’t as well, under whoever wins today.
The next thing we do is to be prayerful. Who else will pray for this country besides those of us who truly believe in Jesus? Most Filipinos tend to condemn our gov’t leaders. I even catch some of my church mates (gasp!) doing this. Look, these guys need our prayers, not our criticisms. Again, we go to the Bible to see an example of a command (this time, regarding prayer) when the environment was far from ideal. Jeremiah wrote to the Israelites held captive as slaves in a foreign land:
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." (Jer. 29:7-8, NIV)
Wow. Pray for the pagan city that holds you captive as a slave. Amazing. Shame on us, as free men, who lambast our local and national leaders when we should be on our knees, praying on their behalf. Pray for them, for if they prosper, we prosper.
Let me end this entry by once again reminding you that although we are to choose our earthly ruler today, it is only because the true ruler of the universe and of this country has allowed it. The song we sang in worship service yesterday is so apt for this truth, a video of which I have below. God is the God of the Philippines and of Cagayan de Oro, and greater things are yet to come. May He bless the Philippines.