I hate social media. I say that with full knowledge that it’s likely that the way this article found your eyeballs was through Facebook or Twitter. In this election season, however, it feels like all I see are my family and friends reposting “news” stories from sites no one ever heard of, or getting into the internet version of a shouting match. Good christian people, people I love and respect, are beclowning themselves all over the internet for what have to be two of the most abominable people to ever run for president. These are objectively terrible people. Not one of us wouldn’t break out into a cold sweat upon realizing we had left our young child or our wallet alone with them for a second. Yet, otherwise intelligent and morally respectable people have gone all in for one of these candidates. They have rationalized away the misuse of a moral responsibility, their vote, over The Supreme Court, control of one or both houses of Congress, some contrived comparison to your favorite biblical character, or that apparently if the other one is elected the country will immediately burst into flames. We’re capable of being more serious than this. This is an epic failure of discernment in our ranks, friends.
Next have come the admonishments from many that, “if you don’t vote don’t complain because you had a chance to do something and you didn’t.” Pardon me for my lack of tact but that’s just stupid on it’s face. Have you ever stopped to consider that the right to speak is not remotely tied to the responsibility to vote? Also, refusing to vote in protest can be as powerful a statement as voting. The choices are awful this season and who could blame you if you couldn’t stomach any of them (including nearly all third parties and write-ins).
When you complain about the limitations of a two party system but go vote for the lesser of two evils rather than refuse to vote in protest or find a palatable third party option you are part of the problem. When you complain about the spinelessness of politicians only to sing from the mountain tops your candidates promise to only nominate the kind of judges you’d like him/ her to you are part of the problem. When you gloss over the abject moral failings of your guy/ girl while condemning the other one for theirs you are part of the problem. We’re the knife that politics is using to cut our own throats.
I finally realized, in this political season, that the problem with all of this isn’t dumb people making bad choices it’s two letters: ME. I have not said enough, but saying is only where it starts. I have not been generous enough with my time, my talents, or my finances. If I would put everything aside that I said in the first four hundred some odd words of this article and focus on doing everything I’m called to do rather than what others are not doing the world would change. The problem is it won’t change tomorrow. The whole world won’t change tomorrow, but we can be the instrument to change one person’s world today.
Jesus was tempted to go the easy way but He answered Satan directly that He would eschew the short term benefit being offered for the long term victory that was already promised. Every temptation offered short term gain for Jesus alone. To indulge in any one of them would have been a completely selfish act. When Satan told the hungry Jesus to turn the stones into bread he was appealing to a felt need. When he took Jesus to the top of the temple and bid him test God by throwing Himself down he was asking Jesus to forgo managing the tension between showing that He was God in the flesh and living the life that would restore all men to relationship with Him. When Satan took Jesus to a high place and showed him all the kingdoms he would give Him if he would but kneel to him once he was appealing to the very human desire to reach a goal without paying the cost required to walk the path to the goal. (See Matthew 4:1-11)
We fall to this third temptation ourselves when we put our hope for a better world in politicians. We hope that we can elect a man or woman who will, by persuasion or force, bring peace and justice to our world. Peace and justice have to be firmly rooted in our houses and God’s house a long time before they’ll ever find their way to the White House. This is not an easy path. It’s not a path that can be walked alone. To walk this path you have to be willing to join with other believers who want to reach people far from God. You have to be living your faith at home and attending and serving within the context of a good local church. A dead church won’t do. It matters little the forms of worship or the charm of the pastor, if you’re not going into the community in love and in prayer and bringing people into that house you’re in a dead church. Living things grow and thrive, they do things that change things.
Your house and God’s house. It’s these two houses that govern the world, to the extent that they’re thriving and active and true to God’s word. For this governance to extend beyond the walls of our homes and churches four years is not going to be enough, one lifetime may not be enough. We have to be willing to commit to a multigenerational focus on advancing His kingdom.
This is where evangelism and apologetics are crucial in the rhythm of christian living. We have to be able to effectively approach the most crucial questions that test our faith so that when those we disciple, especially our own children, face the greatest challenges in their lives they can lock arms with us to maintain their faith. We have to be willing to take up the cross of a thought life that entertains more than just sound bites and slogans to defend our faith. We have to be willing to offer to pray with a coworker that’s having a hard time, right there in the office, even though others may not approve. Jesus knew something we’ve long since forgotten, it’s not enough to do the right thing, you have to be seen doing the right thing, you have to do the right thing for people, you have to know why it’s the right thing, and you have to be willing to point to the One who made it possible for you to do it. This, not any candidate in any election, is the only hope for our country.
For more thoughts on the role of faith in governing our nation please click here for my article entitled, A Call For Theocracy.