Like many Americans I’ve been frustrated by the attitudes and actions of my fellow citizens since Donald Trump was elected and took office. But yet my somberness is not the same as the political angst being flooded throughout the media waves and coffee houses across the land. My frustration has to do with the body of Christ.
I needed this. As of last night I came off of my self-imposed Political Fast for the month of August, and honestly I’m not sure I want to go back. By a political fast I mean that I purposefully stayed away from reading anything or listening to anything having to do with the present political races of Hillary and Trump. Really the whole system as well. Sure I was tempted a few times and know that at least once I started down that road of “just to see” what the story behind the latest headline was. But I didn’t fall prey to the calling and got through August with pretty much no political writ, radio, or video. I think I’m healthier for it and not certain I want to go back to my old norm.
This is not to say that I no longer have political thinking. I am not saying that I no longer believer that some politics and laws are just bad. This is not to say that I no longer believe that some candidates are way off and therefore they will be advocating systems and laws which will hurt people.
Yes, I still intellectually and morally believe there is a clear right and wrong. Some candidates get that and others do not. But I also believe that the attention to these issues in the political sphere is no longer as high on my emotional radar screen as they once were. I always knew that the Kingdom of God is the bigger picture. It’s just taken my emotions a while to catch up. While some of these political and legal issues are indeed important; they are just not the “most important.”
So after 31 days of political and social media fasting, I’ve arrived at four things that I do know for sure and four things I plan to do.
Here I go again. It was 6:45 last night and I “just had” to check online to see who was leading the pack in the second caucus of the 2016 race. There’s nothing wrong with having an interest in politics or even entering the political ring. The problem for me though is that sometimes it just gets too tempting. I want to raise the black flag and dive into the fight with such intensity that I forget my focus on the real and eternal answers.
While I tend to lean toward a more conservative Republican bent, the fact of the matter is that neither major political party has it all right. They both have some huge things going for them but neither one really possess a corner on the market of truth.
This past weekend I participated in a great men’s retreat north of Philadelphia. I’ve only been on the east coast a handful of times so it was great to make new friends with a common bond of Christ. We drew closer to Christ, grew in our walk, and shared stories from our own pilgrimages. With the coming of Memorial Day this weekend I was struck with the power of some stories from older guys who lived through the Viet Nam War. I was born in 1969 so I have no real memory of that tragic chapter in the history of the United States. But these men know quite a bit about that season and still carry scars today. It was in one of our final discussions of the weekend that part of their pain became very clear to me. Like the vets from the Korean War; these Viet Nam survivors were and are forgotten along with so many who died there.
Today the United States will change. After Americans go to the polls and ultimately the Electoral College vote is cast, one direction or the other will be set in motion. Either the governmental philosophy of President Obama will be fully confirmed or the direction of Governor Romney will set another course. Either way, we are looking at monumental change. I have friends who are cheering for each side of this debate. I have friends from all across the political spectrum who will either be throwing a party tonight or settling in for a somber night’s sleep. Indeed this is a serious election. But after you go to the polls, here are two main principles followers of Jesus Christ need to keep in mind at the end of the day.
I’ll be honest. This election season has been a hard one for me. It was just over four years ago while planting a church in Northern California that I made the firm decision to never run for political office. While that commitment has been relatively easy to keep, the question of debate has been quite another story. The last 2012 Presidential debate has come and gone. But many of us are still debating with our friends, enemies, and even sometimes with our own souls. Debate is a great principle in our culture. However, it seems to be a whole lot easier to simply debate than actually do something. It’s easier to debate about what the government should do than actually getting out and doing something ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not turning Amish here and as noted in a post from a while back, I do believe that sometimes folks are called into public policy molding just like someone might be called into law enforcement. The great William Wilberforce from the UK is a prime example. But as a Christ follower we are all to be Salt and Light in our world even if we are not in public service or making public policy. We are called to be his hands and feet from wherever we stand on the political debates. So while this debate could take off in innumerable directions, let me simply ask what it is that we are all going to do ourselves instead of expecting someone else to do for us. Consider these to begin with:
I got an interesting email from one of our readers a few days ago that I wanted to throw out for discussion. Stan, who works through his own site at Atheism-Analyzed posed the question of how we as Kingdom Citizens are to engage in the political systems that we live in here on this side of eternity. I’ll paste his question below, give a couple of responses myself, and then turn it over to you to think about and then respond back to if you like. Here you go . . .