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What does Iowa say about America?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Republican presidential candidates are pictured during the Iowa GOP/Fox News Debate at the CY Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa, August 11, 2011 (Credit: IowaPolitics.com via Flickr)

America is at a crossroads.  As the 2012 presidential election process begins tonight with the Iowa caucuses, Republican voters face a fascinating choice.  It’s a decision that reveals something important about our nation.

National polls show that Mitt Romney would have the best chance against President Obama in November.  Nearly half of those likely to participate in tonight’s caucuses agree that Romney is the “most electable” general-election candidate in the field.  But only 25 percent of Republicans support his campaign personally.

By contrast, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are widely seen as unlikely to defeat President Obama in November.  But they have risen in the Iowa polls because they are perceived as standing closer to the personal values of most Iowa Republicans.  So, do caucus participants vote for the candidate they like best or the one who apparently has the best chance to win the White House for their party?

If you were a Republican voter tonight, which would you choose?

Disclaimer: I would be interested in this subject whether we were discussing Republican or Democratic candidates.  My purpose this morning is not to endorse a campaign or a political party, but to explore a spiritual decision each of us will make today.

Steve Jobs’ now-famous 2005 Stanford commencement address included this statement: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

Now consider this statement by William Barclay, one of the most popular biblical scholars of the 20th century: “The moment a man makes his own will the center of life, divine and human relationships are destroyed, obedience to God and charity to men both become impossible.  The essence of Christianity is not the enthronement but the obliteration of self.”

Would Jesus agree with Jobs or Barclay?  This text comes to mind: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

You’re probably not a caucus voter in Iowa, but you have your own decision to make this morning.  Choose wisely.