By Major Chick Yuill –
I am writing this article on May 1, and for me it’s a day with dual significance. Most readers of New Frontier will be aware of one important aspect of the day–it’s a national day of prayer for America, an event in which I have been more than happy to participate. In fact, I have just returned to the office after attending the Mayor’s prayer breakfast, where the speaker was the actor Dean Jones, famous for his roles in such light comedies as “The Love Bug.”
But today Mr. Jones was definitely not being funny. He told the audience in the Pasadena Civic auditorium of his attendance at a recent meeting with a couple of United States senators and a retired Army general who is now in charge of the public school system in one of the nation’s largest and most important cities. The senators were questioning the General on some of the problems in the schools under his authority–drug trafficking, violence, truancy, underage sex, low test scores. “What’s happening here?” one of the senators asked as they listened to the sad litany. The General’s response was reasonable enough. Buildings are in poor repair, security systems are outdated and inadequate, teachers are underpaid.
Dean Jones didn’t entirely disagree with that assessment of the situation. He simply felt that it didn’t go deep enough. And, with a tear in his eye and a passionate urgency in his voice, he declared, “What’s happening here? What’s happening here is spiritual warfare.” Not one of us disagreed with his perceptive analysis. America’s problems–indeed, all human problems–are, at the most fundamental level, spiritual problems. I certainly appreciated his words, for they resonated with my own heart and they acted as confirmation to the decision I had already made to preach on the subject of spiritual warfare this Sunday.
I want to tell the congregation and four new soldiers we will enroll on Sunday morning that we really are a Salvation Army. This world is enemy territory, under attack from evil powers far greater than merely human forces. There is a war on, and we are called to be in the midst of it, proclaiming release to those who are held captive to sin and declaring the Lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of human life and activity. We’d better take this day of prayer seriously if we mean to make an impact for Christ and his Kingdom. Indeed, we’d better make every day a day of prayer. For this battle has to be won in the spiritual realm before victory can be claimed on the battlefields of earth.
And that brings me to the second important significance of this May Day on which I am writing. It may have escaped the attention of some Americans, but today is General Election Day in Britain, the day when the country votes for a new government. (Since I like to educate my American brothers and sisters, I want to point out that we do elect a government rather than a Prime Minister! Unlike an American presidential election in which the nation chooses an individual for that office, a British election gives the voters in each constituency the opportunity to vote for a Member of Parliament. The party with most elected members forms the government, and those MPs choose one of their number to be the Prime Minister. So if you didn’t know that before, you do now!)
What makes this election so different for Margaret and me is not just the fact that we’re living in America, but that we were too late in applying for a postal vote. So, for the first time in our adult lives, we have not participated in the election of our government. And I regret that fact bitterly. I know that the cynic can argue–especially if the opinion polls in the British newspapers are correct in their prediction of a large majority for one party–that a couple of missing votes won’t make any difference. But those cynics are entirely wrong.
The battle we fight is a spiritual one and our chief weapon is prayer. But the victories have to be claimed here on earth, and that means that each one of us has a God-ordained responsibility to be involved. Democracies are not perfect–neither the British nor American versions–but they come closer to God’s ideal than any dictatorship I’ve heard of. Ordinary Christians like you and me have no right to stand aside from the democratic process, even if it sometimes seems that our one little vote can make little difference. And we have certainly no right to complain about the policies our political leaders pursue if we did not bother to vote.
I said this is a day of dual significance for me. And so it is. On this day when God’s will is sought in solemn convocation and impassioned invocation, I am reminded of the need for prayer. And on this day when my countrymen have gone to the polls I am also reminded of the need for participation. As the old song about love and marriage puts it:
You can’t have one.
You can’t have none,
You can’t have one without the other.