I wrote this a while ago, but it feels just as true- and as needed- today. So here it is:
Here’s my (largely) unedited response to the election, the economy, the all-around “Oh no! What are we gonna do?” feeling I get from the CSC (Christian Sub Culture) these days. I’d like to take out an ad, send a text, buy air time, whatever and say:
As a follower of Jesus, a brother in His family, I’d like to make a simple request. Please, please, please…
KNOCK IT OFF! Stop it with the hand-wringing and the doom-pronouncing and the maybe-we-should-run-for-cover mentality. Stop it with the “our country is going straight to hell on a greased slide” theatrics. Stop it with the “I guess we’re gonna have to wait to get another one of our own in there” silliness.
Last I checked, these realities had not changed: God is still on His throne and Jesus is still calling the shots- being sovereign and all, He’s still in charge. He’s still the King, and He’s our King, isn’t He? No matter who’s in the state house, the White House, or any house.
God is still seeking after and saving people who are far from Him. God is still advancing His plans and purposes for our world, our church, and your life, whether we can fully see and comprehend them or not.
And these truths are pretty big too:
Our hope as followers of Jesus is not- let me repeat – NOT- in who is elected, what laws get passed, or what the “balance of power” (what a silly term) is in Congress or any other legislative body.
I thought our hope was in Jesus Christ, the Savior, the present and coming King. Was I wrong on that?
And historically, hasn’t Christianity grown and expanded far more when it wasn’t in a position of political power? I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t vote or hold office- of course we should. But I think we (evangelicals, specifically) have gotten pretty lazy. I think we’ve come to believe that our culture will be rescued or at least held in check based on holding positions of political power and influence. I think we’ve taken for granted cultural norms that lined up with a Judeo-Christian ethic and expected the lawmakers to support that stance. We’ve expected the government to do our job for us.
But have we forgotten that no heart was ever changed by a law? That no life was ever transformed from the inside out by a political process or by virtue of living in a democracy?
Don’t get me wrong, I love this country deeply. I love standing in line to vote. I love participating in dialogue about the democratic process. I think Christians should be involved in the government, most certainly. But I’m not expecting Washington to fix America. Are you?
Isn’t Jesus what people need, not simply lower taxes, better national security and more affordable health care? And aren’t we as followers of Jesus meant to be agents of change? In the gospels we find Jesus enlisting us as divine co-conspirators in a masterful plan to bring hope and peace and change… yes, I said it, change. But in the most unlikely ways. By loving and serving the least of these. By incarnating the sacrificial love of Jesus as we speak out for those without a voice, advocate for those who most everyone else ignores, loving those our world would rather keep out of view. By cultivating communities of such inclusive, sacrificial love that prove to be irresistible and ultimately redemptive. By looking more like Jesus than by trying to be nice and hoping someone asks us for directions to heaven.
When we as Christians have been in positions of power and influence, did we really make our world a better place for others, or were we really just trying to make the world a more comfortable place for ourselves?
Were we advocating and working hard for justice and Jesus’ brand of righteousness, or were we instead trying to protect our own turf and expand our institutions? Were we more interested in growing our churches that in truly engaging and transforming the culture? Did we become the biggest building in our neighborhood only to forget our neighbors?
So here’s what I’m thinking. Maybe we need to remember to act like what Jesus described so vividly- salt and light. It’s time for the salt to make contact again. It’s time for the light to start shining in dark places, not just hang out with the other light, complaining that it’s so dark “out there”. Maybe we need to reclaim our birthright- those crazy people who followed Jesus so much that they turned the whole world upside down. That’s what I’m thinking. And you know what? I’m pretty excited about it.