We have just spent the last few months or days sorting through claims and counterclaims, of the worth of this or that candidate or referendum. We’re tried to be wise and discerning, to make the right voting decisions for our country. It would seem then that we can rest, but today the real important work begins for us, as Christians. The last chapter of Hosea points the way.
The book is a hard read, not to understand it, but for what Hosea is called to do: he marries a prostitute who leaves him, who signifies how God’s people have left Him. And yet, the book ends with the hope of sweet mercy . . . If God’s people would “return” to Him (Hosea 14:1). “Return” means:
1. Seeking forgivness (v. 2);
2. Renouncing trust in political associations (v. 3a);
3. Repenting of idols (v. 3b); and
4. Believing the goodness of God, that even when His own children orphan themselves by their sin, they still find mercy (v. 3c), in Him.
These words - 2,800 years old, or thereabouts - echo forward to us, two days after our most recent “most important election of our lifetimes”. The chatter leading up to an election is basically about competing visions for flourishing. Thus an election is a temptation for everyone - evangelical Christians included, not just those on the “left” or “right” of us - to place their trust and faith in politicians, parties and political power.
But Hosea 14 could not be clearer: the truly wise person, the truly discerning voter, is one who understands and really knows that God Himself is the only source of human flourishing (v. 9). Only God. Only in following the “ways of the Lord” does anyone find fruitful flourishing.
We modern American Christians need the repentance of Hosea, especially from giving in to shifting our weight of trust onto politics, politicians and political power. How much of modern conservatism among Christians is no different than Israel’s trusting in the horses of Assyria (v. 3)?
This is not to say that we don’t engage in the public sphere for the flourishing of our country. Not at all. But the great irony is that, as much as we trust in politicians and judges for flourishing, we emasculate ourselves for bringing true flourishing to the world. We can’t give what we don’t receive.
But by shifting our weight back onto Him, we are healed and loved (v. 4); blessed, full of youthful life, with deep roots of stability (v. 5); producing fruit for all (v. 6). Thus we the church become what every politician promises to be: the means to true flourishing.