It’s finally official: the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi has been declared the winner of Egypt’s recent presidential election. However, no one is sure if the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces, the military leaders running the country since Hosni Mubarak was deposed, will hand power over to Morsi on June 30 as scheduled.
Nor do we know how Morsi will lead if given the chance. He is claiming to carry a “message of peace” to the world and pledges to preserve Egypt’s international accords with Israel and others. But as I wrote last week when Morsi first claimed victory, he has also branded Israeli leaders “vampires” and “killers,” and warned that all non-Muslims will be forced to convert, leave the country, or pay a tax to remain. We don’t yet know if what he says today will be what he does in the future.
Unfortunately, that’s the state of leadership in the world today. Do you trust campaign promises, regardless of the party that makes them? Do you believe that corporate or even church leaders typically tell the whole truth? Or do you have the sense that words are a means to an end, a rhetorical tool for accomplishing an undisclosed agenda?
In a recent New York Times column, Thomas Friedman asked the question, “Why does it feel like so few leaders are capable of inspiring their people to meet the challenges of our day?” His conclusion: the problems we face require “extraordinary leadership that has to start with telling people the truth.” He quotes a leadership expert who claims, “Nothing inspires people more than the truth. . . . When you are anchored in shared truth, you start to solve problems together. It’s the beginning of coming up with a better path.”
How critical is it that Americans live by the truth? Here’s Jeremiah’s message to Israel shortly before Babylon destroyed their nation: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ But you said, ‘We will not walk in it'” (Jeremiah 6:16).
As a result, God warned them: “I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not listened to my words and have rejected my law” (v. 19). What about their religiosity? “What do I care about incense from Sheba or sweet calamus from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me” (v. 20). And shortly, the nation fell.
A higher percentage of Americans were in church yesterday than is true for any other Western nation. But how many of us are asking for ancient paths of truth today? How many are walking in them and demanding that our leaders do the same? If Israel was not exempt from God’s judgment, are we?