Thursday, October 13, 2016

Donald, Hillary and the Rest of Us

And so, here we are. Weeks away from an historic presidential election. As a pastor, I do not endorse candidates for political office. While I have my own convictions as a private citizen, I also have an obligation as a pastor to remain neutral in public discourse as far as endorsements go. Not all of my colleagues share this particular conviction, but I still practice it.

With that said, I do have an obligation to speak on behalf of the Gospel and offer some historical perspective. This current election has easily been the most troublesome one of my adult lifetime. We have had acrimony and disgusting political discourse in the past. However, we have set the bar at its lowest in these recent months. We have witnessed the degradation of the elective process in this election that is incomparable to any presidential election in history.

Almost daily we read of deplorable actions on the part of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Even their most ardent supporters have had to cringe at the revelations of the actions and words of these two candidates. In fact, representatives from both sides often challenge voters to support their candidate merely because “he/she is not as bad as him/her.” Really? Is that the only reason to vote for a candidate for president?

I know I have heard many times that voters choose between two evils. But this time, what are our options? All of us have been offended at some level by these two candidates. Unfortunately, we have created a society that evidently rewards their behavior. Both of them have abused power and taken advantage of vulnerable people. Both of them seem to thrive on acrimony, accusation and a cavalier treatment of the truth.

As an American, I am deeply disappointed. As a Christian leader, I am deeply troubled.

However, as a Christian leader, I also feel compelled to remind us that our hope is not in an earthly leader. As much as I love America, my hope is not in the “American way.” My hope is in Jesus and I am first and foremost a follower of The Jesus Way.

I have to remind myself (and all of us) that God intervened in history when a tyrant (King Herod) and a pagan (Caesar Augustus) were in power. His Son was birthed into a vulnerable family in a tumultuous time. After His Messianic Mission was complete, the church was birthed in a climate of governmental oppression. In fact, the early life of the church was constantly in peril because of institutional persecution.

Those early Christians knew better than to put too much stock in earthly powers. We could do well to learn from them. We are admonished in Scripture to pray for our leaders. We must be obedient. We must pray for them. However, we are not to view them as the answer to the ills of society. Our hope is in Jesus and in His Kingdom. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). In His Kingdom, the only vote that matters has already been cast!

Until He returns to fully establish His Kingdom on earth, we will put our hope in Him. We will live in accordance to His values. We will embody His truth. We will humbly serve other human beings in His Name. We will pray for our leaders and each other. And we will do our part to participate with our Lord in advancing His Kingdom on earth.

As Christian Americans, let’s seek God’s direction as we vote for any candidate. Let’s hope for the best. Let’s commit ourselves to contribute what is good in our society and refuse to participate in what makes it worse.

And—Lord help us.