A couple of Saturdays ago, the ground began to shake. (No, I am not talking about the figurative ground beneath OU’s National Championship hopes for this season . . . I mean literally – the ground SHOOK.) The 5.8 earthquake with an epicenter near Pawnee, turned the ground beneath my home into a giant washing machine during the spin cycle. For about 20 seconds, our house rattled about . . . long enough to cause each member of my family to pursue some form of “shelter.” Josh dove into my lap while Kimberly hurried beneath a door frame. Where did you take your refuge that day when the ground began to quake?
While earthquakes this large are still rare in Oklahoma, the figurative ground beneath our lives shakes more often. Personal events (divorce, death, disease) rattle individual lives at different times . . . but occasionally there are public events whose epicenter we all share on a common timetable. Public events like terrorists killing innocent civilians, racism ripping apart cities, or the cost of crude oil downgrading our economy shake us all.
When your world begins to quake, where do you run for shelter? When personal events unspool, we often take shelter in the arms of a loved one. However, when public events shake our lives, we often hurry beneath the frame of government. People look to governments to solve shared crisis too large for us to handle on our own.
When public crisis shake our world, we often find relief in the grace God gives through our government . . . but sometimes, the crisis is moving so violently that it seems to be cracking the government to pieces as well. It is frightening when even the “door frames” of our society feel compromised by the sinful shakes of this world.
As a Christian, however, we need not persist in fear, regardless of the shake around us or how our government appears to be handling it. We have a refuge we can run to for security that is sure and stable. As Martin Luther declared 500 years ago (and the Psalmist proclaimed thousands of years before that):
“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing!
Our shelter He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.
His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate.
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.
Were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is He!
Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same.
And He must win the battle! ”
In this election year, as the world quakes around us, we may want to shelter beneath the frame of government, but there is a far safer foundation on which our lives can be secured. Rest assured friends — there is a Kingdom Jesus is building, but it is not the United States of America. It is a Kingdom that is not of this world, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. He must (and will) win the battle!
We are called to honor the temporary authorities God has established in this world, while maintaining our allegiance to His ultimate authority as the Sovereign over all. What does this look like? How does it play out in real life? We will explore this idea more on Sunday at Wildwood Community Church as we wrap up our short two part series called “Nations Under God: Christian Citizenship 101.” I look forward to preaching on Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 service as we find hope and direction for our lives in today’s shaky world.