In all honesty, I’ll be glad when this election is over. It would be an understatement to say that this election cycle has been vicious. The volume and tone of politics in these last few months has been unlike any I have seen in my lifetime. The rise of social media has been largely responsible for our growing comfort of saying whatever, to whomever, however we wish without regard to basic human decency or respect.
The level of frustration felt by both “liberal” and “conservative” people is quite high. Both sides are looking for great things from their candidates. The level of devotion to the candidates is, for me as a clergyman, troubling. The level of praise, the willful blindness to glaring errors (seriously, neither one of these candidates can claim the moral or ethical high ground), and the unflinching, uncompromising, devotion, and demonization of political disagreement is disturbing. This isn’t a commentary on one candidate or the other. My appeal, particularly to my Christian brothers and sisters, is to be very careful not to put too much hope in this election. The election will not save us.
In 2 Samuel 8, Israel has grown impatient with the judges. The Judges were given by God to help lead the people of Israel. They were to assist them in maintaining their spiritual equilibrium and keeping their faith central to their lives. But as Samuel ages, the leaders of Israel come to him and say, “Now appoint for us a King to judge us like all the nations.” (2 Samuel 8:5). Israel wants to have what the other nations have. They are rejecting their God. In fact, when Samuel takes this request to God in prayer, God tells him this much, “Obey the voice of the people….for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” (2 Samuel 8:7). Samuel warns the people again and again, but again and again they call for a king. And so the line of the Kings of Israel begins.
There are some good ones of course –David being a prime example. There are some bad ones, a lot of bad ones in fact. Under their leadership Israel falls away from their God, experiences much suffering, and eventually the fall of the kingdoms and the loss of their land.
What does all this have to do with us? We are not a theocracy. America is not Israel. And you are right.
But I think, like Israel, many Christians are clamoring for a king (or a queen) who will put things to right (a discussion which is usually devoid of Biblical considerations). We are failing to realize the leaders we raise up represent us. In them, we see a reflection of ourselves and it doesn’t take but an ounce of discernment to see the direction each of these candidates will take us. We have raised up leaders from our frustration, anger, pride, and greed. We rationalize it under the rubric of political expediency and “realism”. So we should not be surprised at our candidates or the skeletons in each of their respective closets. No, the election will not save us.
But I pray the election will wake us.
It could be that this election can serve as a wake-up call to us. Is this how we really want to live and be led? Does this person truly reflect the best in us? What type of people do we need to be in order to lift up the best people to lead us? We sing “God Bless the USA” but what type of people do we need to be to live within God’s blessing?
The issues we are facing as a nation have roots that go very deep. The healing we need is not going to come from a politician. The healing we need can only come as a result of contrition and repentance. Until we collectively humble ourselves before God, acknowledge our disobedience, neglect, and rebellious behavior we will see little, if any real improvement. We may be facing a Romans 1:28 moment –where God allows our choices and their consequences to be felt (it’s unpleasant). This patience is intended to wake up God’s people and bring them to repentance (see Romans 2:4).
The People of God must once again be salt and light- in our families and in our communities. This is not so we can have political sway and favor, but so that we can simply be the people we have been called to be. In this, I believe the Church must lead the way. The wholehearted return of God’s people to the service and submission of their King will go much further in the betterment of our country than any election ever could.