Last weekend, conservative talk show host Glenn Beck held what he called a “Restoring Honor” rally. Tens of thousands showed up at the Lincoln Memorial to hear the likes of Beck and Sarah Palin talk about restoring the United States to the Christian values. While many conservatives and believers praised the rally, there were many conservatives and liberals who condemned the rally. Liberals think Beck is crazy; conservative critics focused on Beck’s Mormonism.
My concern with this post isn’t for those of you who think Beck is a knucklehead mcspazatron. Just remember–the free speech right you have to criticize him is the same free speech right he exercised in organizing and speaking at the rally. And for every criticism you have for Beck, Rush, or O’Reilly there’s a parallel criticism for Obama, Maher, and Olbermann.
My concern is for those Christians who saw this rally as another step toward “taking Washington back” and “reclaiming the American dream.” Ah, the American “dream”: to work a job you can’t stand so you don’t make enough money to by stuff you don’t need in order to impress people you don’t like. Sounds more like a bad dream to me.
Two years ago, on election day 2008, I wrote a post about how I voted. Several of my friends criticized me for voting for a third party candidate for President. Most of them voted Republican, and their motivation was fear. They were afraid that a Democratic president would erode their ability (and the ability of others) to live out the American nightmare . Now, nearly two years later, the same logic is starting to simmer among believers: politics and government are the cures for what ails America.
Christians, so many of us have put more faith in politicians and talking heads than we have in Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with there being more Christians in politics. That’s fine. The rub comes when we trust in the flawed political process for change more than we do the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Christians, we have forgotten that the apostle Paul wrote under the Roman emperor Nero, a ruthless tyrant. We forget that the apostle John possibly wrote under Domitian, who persecuted Christians more than any emperor before him. Neither apostle suggested that Christians use the political process to make change–because politics may be able to change laws, but politics cannot change hearts.
James did not write, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God is to keep oneself unstained from the world, to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and to vote Republican (or Democrat).”
There is nothing wrong with participating in the political process. But real change does not result from a voting booth or election results. I think the reason we’ve trusted such things so much is simple: because it’s safe. In our culture, voting is seen as the way to change society. We go to the poll, cast our vote, and go home or to work. We don’t have to get our hands dirty. We can engage in some friendly, heated debate. But we ultimately think we’ve done something when we haven’t done anything.
Christians, Jesus has invited us to be change agents for the kingdom of God–to expand the kingdom wherever we go. It includes sharing Jesus with others, making disciples, being generous with our time and resources to those who have little resource, mentoring and coaching those who are disadvantaged (regardless of how they got there).
So, maybe instead of commenting on blogs or Twittering or going to political feel-good rallies, maybe we should invade our communities by being the hands and feet of Jesus, thus spreading the kingdom. I’m nowhere near perfect in this area, but I’m trying to explore the options I know exist here in Greenville. Not everyone will follow Jesus. Some will actively oppose us. But some will follow Him. And when people start to follow Jesus–not be all religious, but really start to follow Him–communities can change.
And that’s something we who believe should vote for.