In all of my forty-two years, thirty-seven of them were spent in California. The last five were here in Mississippi. You can imagine what my Facebook looked like Wednesday morning.
The most dramatic thing I’m seeing is the contrast between sincere, well-meaning Christians on both sides of the political spectrum. Some are feeling deeply grieved, reeling from what seems to be a great setback for human compassion and progress. Others feel that their prayers have been answered. Obama’s reign is over, and America finally has a leader who, despite his obvious flaws, has the strength to actually make good on his promise to make America great again.
I guess we don’t all agree on what greatness looks like.
As many of you know, I don’t take a lot of stock in politics, though I do recognize its value and necessity. To me, it’s sort of like tending to the sores of a leper. These sores need attention, no doubt about that, and many good people commit their lives to that cause, but my personal interests are about the internals, so I choose to focus my energies there. But I acknowledge that both are important.
Having said that, I have two thoughts moving forward:
#1: The Pendulum.
If you don’t like the election results, just wait. If recent history is any indication, the pendulum will soon be swinging back in your direction. If you do like the results, enjoy them while you can.
This is America. We are a passionate people, but we are also fickle, eager for the next thing. We get bored. We get bothered. We make changes. It’s what we do.
I remember an SNL skit with John McCain before the 2008 election. One of the actors was pretending to be George W. Bush, coming up to McCain, saying that he was going to be there for him, standing in his corner. McCain kept saying, “No, I’m good, seriously.” The majority of Americans were exhausted by Bush and his warmongering. We wanted something different, something less aggressive, something more intelligent. We voted for Hope and Change.
Go back a few more years. A majority of people were tired of Bill Clinton and his womanizing. A few years before that Clinton seemed a lot more charming while playing the saxophone on SNL during the militaristic reign of old man Bush.
Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Republican . . .
This is the beauty of our democracy, but also its curse. Will any movement have time to play itself all the way out, or will we just keep making changes midstream, never finding a sense of national identity?
I’m not saying that all political efforts are pointless. Clearly that’s not the case. But a free, diverse society can be a frustrating place to work, which is why I will always respect my friends that slog through every day in that arena, working to make lasting, positive changes in a society that never seems to stays the same for very long.
#2: An Unshakeable Kingdom
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. Hebrews 12:28 (NLT)
Some say that Jesus was not political. On the contrary, he claimed that he had come to earth to establish his kingdom, and that’s exactly what the people of Jerusalem were expecting when they laid down the green carpet for him.
But Jesus didn’t cast off his Roman overlords, or challenge the local governors, or lay claim to David’s throne. In fact, when the people pressed him to make a political statement, he told them to pay their dues both to Caesar and to God, making a distinction between their natural and spiritual authorities.
It wasn’t until Christ died, was raised, and returned to his Father that his true intentions were realized.
The Hebrew prophecies claimed that David would always have an heir on the throne, but no one imagined that God was planning to graft himself into the line of David, lay down his own life, and take it up again in resurrected form, thus making it possible for a genuine human being to be in a position of authority over every created thing, an authority which he passed on to his followers by the Holy Spirit before sending them off to change the world.
Those of us who have experienced the transforming power of this Kingdom understand why Jesus would differentiate human politics from the divine.
God’s kingdom will never end. It does not change. It transcends all geographical and cultural boundaries. It can affect a person from the inside, making hope and change truly possible. It has the power to bind the world together, and ultimately promises to do so when Christ returns.
Admittedly, many believers have misunderstood the mission of Christ. In our ignorance or arrogance, we have damaged our witness, making Christianity seem almost hostile to love and unity rather than its prime example.
For this reason, I will continue to pray, study, write, teach and interact with others in a way that most reinforces what I believe is the underlying hope of this world. At the same time, I will do what I can to support my government, despite the constant turbulence, and do whatever I can to promote compassion and tolerance in a world that desperately needs it.