Here we are. The New York primary is next week. What a wild election year… it seems that despair, confusion, and hatred reign. Presidential elections are now void of quality leadership. The American political process is being exposed for what it really is. And the presidential candidates remind me of playground kids in junior high school arguing over who is the most popular kid in the class.
I have been greatly disappointed in the candidates this year. But the thing that has affected me the most is how so many Christians are responding to it all. I see three characteristics that reveal a certain level of immaturity in the people who represent Christ on the earth.
1) We decide to "like" a candidate based on personality, one-liners, and confidence. We seem to be forgetting character, values, and leadership ability.
2) We are angry at each other for favoring a different candidate than ours. I have seen people almost reject their Christianity because of how other Christians are voting.
3) We are giving up hope for America, concluding that we no longer have influence. Many Christians are depressed and ready to throw in the towel.
To those three points, for what it is worth, I have a response.
1) The support of a candidate:
Until just a few years ago, no president could be elected if a) he had an immoral past that had not been resolved to the satisfaction of the electorate, b) his belief in God came into question, or c) he could not control his tongue, language, and name calling. It seems we have shifted to lower standards in morality, godliness, and leadership skills. This is a direct correlation to the influence of the church in the world, or the lack thereof. We have encased our beliefs within the four walls of buildings and forsaken our call to be the "salt of the earth."
The believer in Christ is the witness, the representative of Christ to the world. We are not first members of political parties, supporters of political candidates, or even Americans, for that matter.
I love America. I believe in being involved in the political process. I admire people who volunteer for political candidates. But we are, first, people of the kingdom of God. Our allegiance is to Christ and Christ alone. It is our highest priority to allow the presence of Christ and His Holy Spirit in us to strengthen us to stand our ground on the real issues. These are things like character, morality, integrity, compassion, and proven mature leadership. Regardless of the candidate, these are our soap boxes.
2) How we treat each other:
Jesus said, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) Distancing yourself from believers because they support a different political candidate is a poor witness to the world. We are the ones who should be learning to pray together and seek truth and answers to the problems of society. We have the answers. Certainly, we cannot compromise the Word of God. But we can be respectful and listen with open hearts to other believers in Christ who may think differently than we do. We don't have to be close friends in order to love and respect one another.
Some have even threatened to disavow their faith over the actions of other Christians, i.e., voting for candidates that seem to go against the grain of Christian values. I will admit that I too am bewildered by this. But disavowing your faith reveals the true nature of your faith. Is your faith in God or in man? Will you disown Christ in order to make a statement about someone else's political views?
I have for many years been affiliated with a particular political party and platform. But when it comes to my relationship with other believers, I never let that become the issue. Our unity is not based on American politics, but on Christ and His Word. If we can begin there, we can go a long way together without getting tripped up by our political orientation. And for the record, I'm not very happy with any political party at this point. I'm a Christian - not a Democrat or a Republican.
A number of years ago, I co-hosted a television program with Pastor Garland Hunt, the founder of Raleigh International Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. RIC was a church of many colors. Garland is African American, a former member of the Black Panthers (before he came to know Jesus as His savior). The name of the program was "The Gospel in Black & White." We would take a current racial issue from the news and begin discussing it. Then about one-third of the way into the program, we would open our Bibles and say, "What does the Bible say about this?" We had a blast. He received hate mail from the black community and I received hate mail from the white community. We never had such fun! It was our discovery that both political parties and races fell short of Biblical wisdom and instruction.
Jesus' charge to "love one another as He has loved us" may take a little humility and servanthood as opposed to arrogance and rage. It is up to us to demonstrate to the world how real life works - the abundant life that Christ has given us to live.
3) The future of our nation:
Don't miss this! We are living in the most exciting time in history. Don't be moved by the shaking of the American Dream.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, "No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ..." and that "each one's work will... be revealed by fire." Then the Hebrews writer indicates in chapter twelve that there will be a "removal of things that are shaken... that is things that have been made, in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."
In other words, you are experiencing the crumbling of things man has made that have been manipulated, misused, and abused. Just because it is American does not make it good or best. Your call is not to a restoration of American values. Your call is to the pure foundation of Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Since that is our orientation, we should not be moved by the struggle around us. Realize that hearts are being exposed and truth is being revealed. It's not pretty. But it is necessary for us to see the problems so that we can begin to fix them, if we are willing to be a part of the answer.
Jesus said in John 16:33b, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
It is in the middle of darkness, confusion, and decay that the light of Christ and His people shines the brightest. Get out of depression. That is exactly where the devil wants you. Put on "praise and thanksgiving." Lift your voice of hope for the future. Lead people to the way of Christ and His love. That is the way to a changed person, a changed family, a changed community, a changed nation and world. Change your attitude, change your strategy to victory, and you will change the planet!
Let's change the world together!