Matthias Burnett, pastor of First Baptist Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, preached “An Election Sermon” in nearby Hartford on May 12, 1803. In it, he said,
Consider well the important trust . . . which God . . . has put into your hands. . . . To God and posterity you are accountable for your rights and your rulers. . . . Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you. . . . Look well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust. . . . Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutely oppose the torrent of iniquity. . . . Watch over your liberties and privileges – civil and religious – with a careful eye.”
This does not sound much like the soft-pedaled preaching we hear today, does it? Men of God in America’s past knew it was their duty to preach God’s truth concerning matters of the day. It is equally our duty to live God’s truth in our present time. Pastor Burnett’s words are as pertinent and striking today as they were in 1803. In those few words, he characterized the duty of every American citizen, especially every American Christian. As we go carrying out those duties, there are some important reminders we ought to keep in mind.
Our Lord said He planted His Church in the world to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Prior to the development of refrigeration, as hard as it may be to imagine, people found ways to preserve food. And similar to today, much of that food was meat. No offense to vegetarians and vegans, but to the omnivore majority of human beings, there is nothing like a big juicy steak to quell hunger. In order to eat meat more than a few hours after slaughtering an animal, people had to find a way to preserve the meat. So the ingenious folks of the past found that salt was a preservative. They put salt on the raw meat causing it to last longer.
Our Lord also said His church was to be the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). Interestingly, light is an affirmative force. Darkness is passive. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light. It has no choice but to scatter at light’s first entrance. Don’t believe me? Let’s do a little experiment. Imagine a movie theater with nothing on the screen and no exit signs or floor lights. All of the doors to the theater are closed. Now, turn on your cell phone flashlight. What happens to the darkness? The light cuts through it. What do you think would happen if your light is held up in the back row, or pinnacle, of that room? It would give light to the whole room. Conversely, what happens during a solar eclipse? The moon completely interrupts the sun’s line to the earth. But, is it completely dark on earth during a solar eclipse? No. That is because darkness cannot overwhelm light. It only occupies the space light vacates.
Jesus understood how salt and light work. He was present during its creation, right? That is why he compared His Church to both salt and light. Pastor Burnett seized this understanding. As salt and light, we as believers has a responsibility to properly steward our civic duties. We must vote because we are the preservative, the light responsible for keeping decay and darkness at bay. We have arrived where we are in America today because Christians, God’s Church, the salt and light, has too often left government to the darkness. At the same time, we complain that our nation has turned away from God. It is akin to salt complaining that maggots have eaten the steak that it refused to preserve. How can the nation follow God if Christians are not involved in choosing its leaders? How can our interests and freedoms remain safe if left in the care of the corrupted?
Noah Webster pressed the issue further when he said,
When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.”
We have now before us one of the most important elections of our lifetime. The pages of history are being written before our very eyes. Are we, as a nation, going to continue down the road of open rebellion against God, or will we change course? Please know, should we continue down the road to rebellion, it will be because Christian citizens “neglect the divine commands” and for this we will have to give an account to God. Therefore, believers must make a statement this election. Say with your vote that, “Rebellion against God is not an option on our watch.” Let us use the citizen-tools God has given us to serve in our role as salt and light to this nation. Let us be that light on the hill and say with our voice and our vote, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
This blog first appeared HERE in Engage Magazine.