Thursday, August 28, 2008

Standing in Integrity

They say to God, “Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways.” But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.

                        Job 21.14, 16

People and Politicians

We’re awash in politics right now in the States. Promises, accusations, ideals, and facts bounce off each other like billiard balls. For two weeks, we will overdose on the American dream and long-winded speeches about who best embodies it. But the loftiest ideals are no better than the lowest unless their advocates summon the personal integrity to put them into practice. This truth funds the inherent drama in elections: which candidate has the courage and talent to act on his convictions? It also speaks to us. Do we really live by the ideals that inspire our dreams and speech? Are we people or politicians?

Job’s Crisis

Job became the unwitting pawn in a political showdown between God and Satan. To prove Job’s faithfulness, God lifted His protective seal. The Enemy swept in to strip him of his property, family, health, and—hopefully—his faith. Job accepted losses beyond his control. Faith, however, was a different matter. That was in his hands and Job tenaciously refused to let go.

Most of Job’s crisis involved his determination to hold to his principles despite possible defeat, constant derision, and underlying doubt. The instant Satan exited with everything, so-called friends swarmed him with opinions and advice. Job looked through their words to see they’d abandoned God’s ways for manmade logic. For the moment, it seemed to work. While he had nothing to show for his faith, they prospered.

Stand Aloof to Stay Alive

But Job knew what they didn’t: prosperity—and success, security, popularity, you name it—isn’t in our hands. They’re God’s to give and His to take. All we have is integrity, which we prove and protect by our actions. When signs point to reasons to compromise our integrity, we do as Job: we remove ourselves from company and situations that argue against faith and press for proof.

As GLBT believers, we face homophobic Christians saying the Bible proves God rejects us. We meet non-believers who say religious hostility proves we should reject God. Oddly, both sides want us to let go of our faith. But, like Job, we must stand aloof from ungodly counsel to stay alive. We’re God’s people, not His political surrogates. We live by His principles, not human logic. And we do this, first and foremost, by standing in integrity—even if that sometimes means standing apart.

Standing in integrity sometimes means standing aloof from pressure to conform to ungodly counsel.

(Tomorrow: Standing in Unity)

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