Deliverance comes from God

The daily news is full of reminders about many things from which we need to be delivered. We need the rescuers. Somebody needs to save us from despair and destruction. The world is a mess.

The secular[1] world is ensnared in guilt as surely as any sinner in the hands of an angry God. In fact, it might even be correct to say that secular thinkers suffer much more deeply from guilt than Christians do. Many Christians on Sunday morning come to the moment when the pastor pauses to permit each person present to contemplate his/her own sins and confess them to God, and they cannot think of anything to confess. No such thing happens to a secular thinker, bombarded daily, even hourly, with his complicity in systemic racism, his inability to stop emitting carbon that is burning up the globe with every breath, and his powerlessness in the face of murder and mayhem with guns. Secular thinkers are drowning in guilt over the broken world, but there is nobody for secular thinkers to ask for help—except themselves. If anything gets fixed in this world, secular thinkers believe that they must do it all themselves.

Secularists do not, therefore, simply advocate for their solutions. They dare not rely on the power of persuasion, and they deny the very existence of God. Their stance leaves them only one source of pre-eminent power—government.

Secularists fill the God-shaped hole in their lives with human government.

For Christians, knowing that God created the universe and that he continues to be in charge of it is a great comfort. A problem may be huge, but its ultimate solution is in the hands of Almighty God. God can and will use human beings to work out his solutions, but humans always have the right and even the obligation to look to God, not their own power, for the real solution to any problem. The solution may not happen in a single human lifetime, but God transcends the lifespan of a human. God works according to a timeless perspective that human beings can trust. Because Christians trust God, they are not afraid to allow human beings individual liberty.

After all, every Christian knows that his or her relationship with God is the result of personal choice. Just as God permitted Adam and Eve the freedom to be rebellious and disobedient, he gives the same freedom to every human being. God is not afraid for a human being to be free.

Secularists, on the other hand, are afraid for humans to have any freedom. Amazingly, each secularist who fears the freedom of other human beings has no fear that he himself might ruin the world with his choices. Each secularist holds the firm conviction that humans cannot be permitted too much freedom, because they will misuse it, but each secularist also firmly believes that he (or she) knows exactly what freedoms every human being ought to give up without any outcry. Secularists will declare that they themselves have no desire that anyone die, and therefore all humans ought to give up the right to own guns, but these are the same secularists who kill and butcher babies with utter freedom, simply because the babies are unborn. Secular thinkers are quite ready to end the freedom of other people to own guns, out of their commitment to save “even one life,” yet these are the people who become outraged at the idea that anyone would interfere with the murder and mayhem wrought upon millions of unborn babies around the world every year. The number one cause of the death of human beings around the world today is abortion, but secular thinkers do not want any impediment to human freedom to murder and torture the unborn.

There are other problems in the world, and secularists have proposed answers to all of them. In every case, secularists propose solutions that require governments to pass new and highly restrictive laws. In many cases, the proposals allege to save money and lives, just like the Affordable Care Act, but the general outcome of successful legislation of such proposals is increased cost to citizens and little, if any, relief from the problem that inspired the legislation.

The story of Jonah is instructive. Jonah was living happily in Israel when God told him to go to Nineveh and warn them that they were doing wrong. It is irrelevant what the wrong-doing was; it was wrong-doing which God judged to be evil, and Jonah was sent to tell the people of Nineveh that if they did not stop doing evil and start doing good, God would destroy them.

Jonah was unhappy about this assignment. What if Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz were to be told by God this very minute that she or he must put the campaign on hold and go to Damascus and tell ISIS that God will wreak summary judgment on them in forty days if they don’t stop doing what they are doing? Neither could be more distressed about this assignment than Jonah was. And what if Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz actually believed that if ISIS did change its ways and become a force for good, God would leave them unscathed? Would either of them actually obey God and be grateful to see ISIS become a force for good?

Jonah did not want to see such an outcome, and Jonah took action. He hopped a ship going in the opposite direction and tried to run away from God. God, however, could not be ignored. God belched up a storm in the Mediterranean, let the ship’s crew to throw Jonah overboard, and then arranged for a gigantic fish to swallow Jonah. Anyone who has ever spent an hour in the midst of fish guts after a successful fishing expedition knows that Jonah would have found it no blessing to survive inside a fish. Yet by God’s power and grace, Jonah did survive. He thought and prayed, inside that fish, and in the end, he reached a conclusion about his place in the universe.

Jonah prayed, “Deliverance belongs to the Lord.”

Jonah had come to grips with the truth that his whole life, and the lives of all the other people on earth, including the entire population of Nineveh, belonged to the Lord. He was not free to ignore God or wish his assignment off on someone else. He had complete freedom to refuse this job, but with that freedom came the consequence of God’s judgment on his own disobedience, long before Nineveh was due to feel any pain.Yet even though the disgusting job of telling his enemies how to escape God’s judgment fell on him with a vengeance, Jonah was not the power behind the message. Jonah had no obligation to do anything about the behavior of the Ninevites; he only had an obligation to do his part: be the messenger of God.

Secular thinkers truly believe that it is up to them to fix the whole broken world: ISIS, hunger, disease, and economic decline. They have nobody to help them, and unless they can corral the power of government to restrict people’s freedom to do things the secular thinkers believe are evil, they have no way to fix what is broken. The record of success in shaping government to fix what is broken in the world is not good. The record of success in making the world a better place by giving people freedom is clear and bright for all the world to see.

The secular solution had seventy years to prove itself in the USSR. That solution did not work, and that nation dissolved. Unless Christians are able to vote in sufficient numbers for candidates who will protect freedom, secular thinkers will impose the USSR solution on the USA. I will be long dead before that solution grinds itself to powder, but that will be the result.

We all need to pray, and then we need to vote according the guidance of the Holy Spirit. No matter what secular thinkers believe, there is no deliverance in Washington, DC. “Deliverance belongs to the Lord.”


[1] I use the term secular in its broad sense. Some secular thinkers declare that they are neither humanists nor atheists, putting a much finer point on the definition than most people intend when they use the term. Since many who self-identify as Christians do, in fact, live by a worldview that is much more secular than Christian, I use the term to refer to the worldview, not the social associations.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love, available on Kindle