Denison Forum – Glenn Youngkin wins Virginia governor’s race: How a single life can change human history

Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in yesterday’s Virginia governor’s race.

Why am I leading today’s Daily Article with this story? I don’t live in Virginia. The odds are that you don’t, either. Gubernatorial races are typically only news inside the states where they are contested. Governor-elect Youngkin will not cast votes in the congressional disputes of our day, render opinions on Supreme Court decisions, or influence the White House in any direct way.

And yet, his race generated national headlines over the last several weeks as he and his opponent drew into a virtual tie going into yesterday’s election.

One reason is that the Virginia contest was widely viewed as a referendum on Joe Biden’s presidency. In fact, The Hill called it a “proxy war between Trump and Biden.” Another is that national issues such as abortion and vaccine mandates have permeated the race.

Yet another is the divisiveness of our political season. Gerald F. Seib writes in the Wall Street Journal that “there are effectively four political parties in Washington now” and “there is zero trust among them.” There are the progressive Democrats, personified by Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the moderate version, personified by Sen. Joe Manchin. Then there is the traditionally conservative “governing” part of the GOP and the “populist, nationalist version of the Republican Party.”

The bipartisan infrastructure plan created earlier this year is an example of the moderate Democrats and the “governing” Republicans working together. However, the current standoff regarding its future exemplifies the lack of trust between the four “parties” in Washington.

Using skateboards to win souls

In a day as divisive and chaotic as ours, what difference can one person make? All the difference in the world. In fact, the more conflicted our culture, the more one person can stand out as a unique harbinger of hope.

For example, John Barnard is the founder of Middleman Ministries, a partner of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco. His ministry gives away custom-made skateboards and other equipment to teenagers on the margins of society. They conduct skating clinics and outreaches in skating parks and also pair adult Christian mentors with young people, sometimes bonding by working together on old vans. Middleman then donates the vans to other skateboarding ministries around the country.

In honor of the traditional founding of the Protestant Reformation on October 31, Christian Post ran a terrific article on seven women who were vital to this transformational movement. Here we learn about Marie Dentière, a former nun who led other nuns into the Reformation cause, wrote apologetic works in defense of Reformed theology, and was even asked by John Calvin to write the foreword for one of his printed sermons.

We meet Argula von Grumbach, who was born to a Bavarian noble family and became so famous for her defense of the Reformation that Martin Luther complimented her “valiant fight with great spirit, boldness of speech, and knowledge of Christ.” And Katharina Zell, sometimes called the “Mother Reformer,” whose marriage to a Protestant pastor in 1525 is believed to be one of the first official Protestant marriages in European history. She wrote works defending clerical marriage and commentaries on Scripture and cared extensively for Protestant refugees.

You and I may not be familiar with their stories, but their faithfulness in the midst of epochal change, controversy, and opposition changed history and advanced God’s kingdom on earth.

How to “turn the world upside down”

You don’t have to run for governor for your life to impact our culture. Nor do you have to help lead a reformation for your faith to change eternity. But you do need to make a countercultural decision today that will affect your life and your legacy far beyond today.

God wants to use your life and mine to change our world for Christ. From the first Christians to now, he wants to empower and employ his followers to “turn the world upside down” with the gospel (cf. Acts 17:6).

If he is not using us as transformational salt and light, the fault is with the salt and light (cf. Matthew 5:13–16). This is because the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit; our sins grieve him and quench his power in our lives (Ephesians 4:301 Thessalonians 5:19). He can only use us to the degree that we are usable.

Unfortunately, many Christians think that so long as their sins are private and personal, they are affecting no one but themselves. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Who is the “builder of your destiny”?

You and I literally cannot know the ways God’s Spirit would have used our lives if we were more usable. We cannot know the impact we forfeit on earth and the reward we lose in heaven when we spend even a minute or an hour outside his leadership and empowerment.

Of course, Satan does not want us to know this. He tries to tempt us into self-reliance, using means that resonate with our secular culture and with our internal “will to power,” which can be extremely deceptive. As an example, James Allen claims in his influential book As A Man Thinketh that by our thoughts, a person is “the maker of his character, the molder of his life, and the builder of his destiny.” (For more, see my review of his important book on my personal website.)

In fact, the Holy Spirit wants to make our character to reflect Christ (Romans 8:29), mold our life as we manifest his “fruit” (Galatians 5:22–23), and build our destiny as world-changers for eternity. When we are fully his, he will use our gifts, talents, abilities, education, and influence to advance God’s kingdom in ways we will not fully understand this side of eternity.

The key is for us to want to make a difference so passionately that we will pay the personal price for public usefulness.

The more we understand all Jesus has done for us, the more we will want him to do for others what he has done for us. And the more we will want to serve him in gratitude for such grace.

Corrie ten Boom, the Nazi holocaust survivor and Christian ambassador to the world, once prayed: “Lord, you died for me. What can I do for you?”

Will you make her prayer yours today?

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