Leadership by Executive Order

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In his first 100 days, President Biden has signed 42 Executive Orders.  He signed 21 in his first week in office!  That’s compared to 4 in the first week for President Trump, and 5 in President Obama’s first week.  There’s little question that this President intends to lead our nation by Executive Order.  

It’s poor leadership.  And I believe that’s true regardless of who’s President.  

I realize there may be a legitimate use of the Executive Order, but it seems to me it should be few and far between.  Time was when a President was expected to lead the nation to adopt his agenda by means of persuasion, presentation of evidence, and the art of strategic compromise.  Presidents used to work with Congress to see legislation passed that would reflect the ideals that got him elected to the highest office in our land.  If the Congress didn’t enact it as law, oh well.  Back to the drawing board.  Time to hit the campaign trail, to sit down in diners with everyday Americans, to take to the airwaves, to offer some give-n-take to key swing voters in Congress.  

But now, Congress is totally ignored. By-passed altogether. With a stroke of the Executive Order pen.

Some might say, “Rightly so!”  Indeed, Congress has proven quite sluggish in recent decades.  At times downright inept. Seemingly incapable of reaching right good compromises.  Deadlocked.  

But have we so quickly forgotten that this is by design?  

Our Founders brilliantly built such sluggishness into the legislative process precisely to prevent one man’s agenda, or one party’s platform, from so suddenly and swiftly domineering over the nation.  

But now we find ourselves awash in cultural chaos as the LGBTQ+ agenda is smashed into our faces, as the abortion agenda is driven down our throats, as massively over-priced environmental solutions are hammered into our infrastructures, as Critical Race Theory slashes us into deeper division, and as socialists keep handing us “stimulus” money presumably to help us forget about the unscientific draconian stripping of freedoms all in the name of public safety.  So much of our freedoms are lost due to our Governors’ use of, you guessed it, executive orders.  

Seems leadership by executive order is the modus operandi.  

Sadly, this has also infected the Church.  Although I have pastor friends who would respectfully disagree with me, I am standing my ground here.  I am now seeing the effects of pastors more-or-less forcing members and church-goers to wear masks and not touch one another during worship gatherings.  Though it was subtle, it was a form of “lording it over” the people, which God strictly forbids (1 Peter 5:1-5).  Although I support a pastor’s right and duty to make such decisions, in matters of Christian conscience, I have learned by God’s grace to trust God’s people.  They will find ways to love and care for each other, while respecting variance of opinions.  Indeed, we have experienced this first hand at Corydon Baptist Church – not perfectly, but consistently.  We attacked this thing a year ago with a three-pronged mantra: obey Jesus, honor the conscience, protect the most vulnerable.  God has truly blessed us.  We offer thanksgiving and praise to our great God!  It’s all of His unmerited favor in Christ.  

I am saddened, however, by what I often see and hear from other pastors and believers.  After months of no gathering, then more months of “social distancing” and masking, the entire atmosphere of churches has changed.  Many churches are still not conducting any children’s ministry, taking their cues from the ever-reliable, highly politicized public school system.  (I speak as a mad man, as the Apostle Paul would say.)  Having visited a few such churches in recent months, I can tell you that the change is palpable. And not for the better.  The critical element of our shared humanity, of our common spiritual and physical need, of our shared faith in Christ and our fear of only God, has been severely damaged.  I have had people apologize profusely for accidentally touching me.  In a church gathering!  Even the singing has taken a hit.  Depressed, isolated people just don’t sing with exuberance.  Relegating worship to pixels has hurt the cause of genuine New Testament Christianity about as much as anything in my lifetime, with the exception of heresy / false gospels.  

I mourn for the condition of the Church in America.  I pray our God will revive His people and restore His Church to the vibrant faith of our Reformer forbears.  COVID-19 exposed our ill-preparedness to suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ.  To take risks to do church His way.  To bow only to Christ as Lord.  The pandemic was totally precedented in history.  But the response from both governments and churches was totally unprecedented.  Historically unprecedented.        

But our God is in the business of Redemption and Restoration.  We need a new Exodus!  For the Lord Jesus Christ to lead us out of the bondage of self-absorption, consumeristic man-centered worship, and evangelistic marketing techniques.  We need Holy Spirit power to once again be His witnesses, and to seal our testimony, if necessary, with our own lives.  We need to learn to live for eternity.  To live so as to die well.  To follow Jesus, carrying our cross, until we lay it all down at His pierced feet.  May we remember we are under Ultimate Executive Orders from the One who has all authority in heaven and earth:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).