Back in the 80ís Wendyís had a very popular commercial where an elderly lady would say, ďWhereís the beef?Ē Beef was the test as to whether or not you had a real hamburger. Christians are supposed to ask, ďWhereís the fruit?Ē (Mat. 7:16)
The kind of fruit born is supposed to be the truth test applied to any individual or group. Itís not an obscure scripture verse and most everybody knows about it. Despite that it seems to be one of the most forgotten as far as usefulness.
Here we are once again undergoing the cruel and unusual punishment of an election year. Politicians show up on our doorsteps spit and polished with the best lines like a young man in a tuxedo on his best behavior, seeking your permission to take out your daughter while inside he schemes on getting her to the hotel room. If all you look at is the tuxedo you canít really say you have your daughterís best interests at heart.
The earliest president I remember is Eisenhower, and thatís just from memories of seeing his face on that big black and white Zenith television in the living room. Then it was Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush. I never paid any real attention to politics until Reagan, but one thing I can remember hearing in every election year was that itís time for a change. That one phrase, itís time for a change, is repeated without failure in every election. But itís the one thing that never happens because of an election. At least not the kind of change people mean when they say itís time for a change.
So many Christians were disappointed by the current George Bush. He played to evangelicals shamelessly and spoke of his faith in God openly. And all the Christian sheep looked over at James Dobson and John Hagee and T.D. Jakes and Rod Parsley and Pat Robertson for the head nod. And when they got it they cast their votes accordingly. Lest I seem to be completely belittling this process I do recognize that there are very legitimate concerns Christians have about electing a president. And rightfully so.
But whereís the fruit? George Bush has caused more Christians to repent of their vote than any president I know, and if they learn from that mistake, well and good. But if they arenít asking themselves whereís the fruit? then what is to prevent them from making the same mistake again? Fruit is THE test, the ONLY test appointed by God. If we donít use that test then other tests step into the vacuum.
Thereís the how do they view Israel test, which is very popular. A large Christian herd follows this test, especially the end-times crowd. The end-times crowd reminds me of the ďitís time for a changeĒ crowd. Just as the real change has never come, the end-times scenarios have all been wrong. Yet the herd keeps moving in the same direction. Then there is the abortion test and the who will you pick for the Supreme Court test. Those are good tests but they arenít God appointed.
Sinners can look around them and see great numbers of other sinners doing ungodly things. They find comfort in that. When youíre just doing what everybody else does at least you donít stand out. But it seems that Christians do the same thing. Instead of focusing on the God appointed test we see what other churches in the circles we frequent are doing, who the television ministries support, etc. Then, later, when the elected candidate totally ignores Christian concerns, thereís resentment all around. When the next election comes the process begins again, and nobody appears to have learned a single thing.
All we need to do is check out the fruit of any candidate. They have histories in the form of voting records and speeches and participation in clubs and groups. These things are indications of what kind of fruit they bear. To seek out this fruit one must feel more of an obligation to God than to their pastor, denomination or super-star minister of choice. If you canít find it in yourself to do this than the question arises whether or not you have the necessary light within to carry it out.
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Ė Isa. 8 19:20
We might think that because weíre not crazy enough to go to wizards and seek spirits regarding who should become president that weíre alright. But the fact remains that if the test isnít God appointed then you can go to a wizard or you can call John Hagee. It doesnít matter. If we donít follow the guideline according to this word it is because there is no light in us.
We canít shine any light on the fruit of others to inspect it if we donít have any in us. In the absence of that light, which nobody gets just by going to church or being part of any group or school of thought, itís no wonder that we look for change every election but find only that the merry-go-round has merely revolved back to where it was before and were it will be again.
Without light, itís all just a prison of reruns. The hollowness of this barren process of reruns is disgraceful for a Christian to be part of. We become the hollow men of which poet T.S. Eliot spoke.
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or ratsí feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralyzed force, gesture without motion...
The escape from this prison is simple. As soon as we decide to speak and act according to the word in spirit and truth (Jn.4:23) no matter what everybody else is doing inside or outside the church, we automatically have the light we need.