There was another presidential debate last night. Will they never end?
This year has been especially tough on folks because both parties have multiple candidates running. Every candidate in both parties has spent the last year honing their message. No matter what the particulars of their platform may be, their message boils down to basically this: America needs change, there are massive issues out there, I know how to best fix them all, if you elect me you will get what you want, and if my opponent is elected America will fall into chaos.
You might boil it down even further: “I am the only hope for this country!”
I will be the first to say that America is facing problems: gun violence in the United States is out of control, we have a huge problem on the immigration front, far too many people are living below the poverty line, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing at an alarming rate, businesses are facing crippling regulations that are impeding their ability to flourish, millions of unborn children are being killed each year, we are facing an ever growing threat of internal terrorism, the national debt is nearing 20 trillion dollars, we need a massive over haul of the county’s infrastructure, health care costs continue to sky-rocket, we are continuing to lose ground in education against the rest of the world, the geo-political climate is more complex and dangerous than ever…
So, who should you vote for? Should we even be involved in politics?
If we want the world to be a better place to live, yes we need to be involved politics; we should evaluate each candidate carefully. But we must do so understanding the limits of the political system, let alone the candidates. As followers of Christ, this means having an honest discussion about how much of our party or candidate’s agenda is Christ’s agenda.
In one sense, you might argue that the followers of Christ should go out of their way to engage the political system because we are sanctified in truth – God’s whole truth - His truth about human life, about the poor, about the environment, and about social justice.
The word evangelical has been used a lot during this election cycle. I know what a theological evangelical is, but I have got to tell you – I have no idea what a political evangelical is. As Inigo Montoya, a wonderful character in the Princess Bride, might say, “Evangelical. You keep using that word. I am not sure you know what it means.”
An evangelical, of course, believes that all of the issues facing our country are important and that we need to elect people who will attend to them in a manner reflecting the values of the Kingdom of God. An evangelical does not believe that any one candidate is our only hope. An evangelical understands that the salvation we need from this present economic climate is not the same as the salvation we need from the problem of sin. An evangelical understands that we can never be fully protected by any earthly individual from all of the potential calamities facing us. An evangelical understands that the work that needs to be done in this world will never get us to the true flourishing that God intends for us. An evangelical understands that he does not live for the advancement of a particular political party, but for the advancement of the gospel.
In fact, you might say an evangelical is someone who believes,
“That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”