Half of the country woke up this morning saying, “Great! Another four years!” The other half rolled out of bed, poured themselves a cup of sarcasm and said, “Great. Another four years.” Regardless how you voted, this one truth is certain: we are not a United States of America despite the soaring rhetoric from both the victors and the losers. As I reflect on the past several weeks, some key truths come to mind.
Key Truth #1: Politics is a Dangerously Attractive Idol
Far too many friends of mine got wrapped up in the political momentum over the last six weeks. I have nothing against being informed or voicing your opinion, but where I draw the line is when you express your political view so vehemently that you damage your witness for Jesus Christ. I saw this happen on both sides as conservatives were labeled as heartless capitalists and liberals were branded as mindless fascists. When God gets dragged into a partisan conversation you can be assured of one thing: half of the audience will be alienated from the Gospel. When we elevate politics above evangelism we have made politics our idol choosing to serve the party line rather then the Lord of the universe. What’s dangerous about this is that politics can fool you into thinking you are pursuing the greater good. You become willing to needlessly offend people in the name of abortion, gay marriage, feeding the poor, providing healthcare, etc. It’s not that these things aren’t important, nor is it that the Bible has nothing to say about such topics; it’s just that these things aren’t the main issue. What is the main issue? Man has a sin problem and there is only one cure: Jesus.
Key Truth #2: America is NOT the hope of the Earth
Romney and Obama ended their final debate with two provocative statements. Obama called America the “only indispensable nation” and Romney referred to America as “the hope of the earth,” a line that made it into his final two weeks of stump speeches. Both sides have referenced Reagan’s famous “shining city on a hill” in reference to our great nation. Now, before people jump on me for being unpatriotic, let me say that I love my country and truly believe America is the best country in which to live. That being said, I am also a realist. America can’t save souls. America can’t unfetter a single soul from the shackles of sin. America will never bring peace to the earth and, if the Lord tarries in His return, America will eventually crumble into the dust of history, just like Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome and a host of other empires. If politics is a dangerous idol, unbridled nationalism is an equally nefarious one. Jesus is the hope of the earth. Only He can save. Only He can forgive. Only He died AND rose for our benefit. And the ‘city on the hill?’ That’s the Church! The Bride of Christ is the only indispensable, and unconquerable, nation. Even the gates of death will fail to prevail against her. The Church carries the only message of hope and change that really matters. Our hope is Jesus, and He will change our hearts for the better.
Key Truth #3: Politics will Never Unite Us
For anyone who had a rosy vision that whoever won would unite us, I think a wake-up call is in order. In terms of the popular vote, this was one of the closest races in history. Nearly half the nation is dissatisfied with the results. We can play the what if game, “if we had the right leader/if only side a would compromise with side b/if we could tone down the rhetoric then we would be united.” But playing that game only leads to more disillusionment and disappointment. So who can unite us? The same guy who called a government lackey and an anti-government zealot to be His followers. The same man who began an organization that crossed gender, ethnic, political and socioeconomic lines. That man is Jesus. In Him there is no Jew, no Greek; no slave, no free; no male, no female; no conservative, no liberal; no democrat, no republican. Now for the hard part: we need to live like this fact is true.
Key Truth #4: Our Leaders Need Prayer
The election process made one thing absolutely certain: no candidate is perfect. We are a nation of imperfect people being led by imperfect people. Since our leaders share our imperfection, they also share our need for prayer. Which of us could not use an extra dose of wisdom? Godly advice-givers? Patience? If we need it, our leaders need it even more. To withhold your prayers because you have a political difference with your government leader is not only spiteful, it is sinful, going against the divine commands handed down to us by not one, but two different apostles (Paul and Peter). If you love God, you love people, and if you love people, you pray for them to be blessed with knowledge and wisdom. Your leaders need your prayers.
Key Truth #5: Repentance Must begin Within the Church
We often read 2 Chronicles 7:14, which calls for prayer and repentance as the cure for a nation’s ills, and try to apply it to America. The problem is that the verse was not meant for America. The verse is meant for the people of God. Note how it begins, “If MY people called by MY name.” God’s people called by God’s name? Who are they? CHRISTians! The Church! We need to repent! Of what?
- Confusing patriotism with Christianity.
- Allowing political talking points to overshadow the preaching of the Gospel.
- Approaching the election with an “us vs. them” mentality instead of approaching people with a “I love them” mentality.
- Letting our political passion outpace our zeal for the Gospel.
- Following a cause instead of Christ.
- Not praying nearly enough for our nation’s leaders.
And yes. I am guilty of several of the above. And I repent now because I love my country, but more importantly, because I love my Lord.