I’m so excited about election day. I’m thrilled that the polls will be open, that people can vote for the candidates of their choosing, and that we can watch the returns from the comfort of our living rooms. But my excitement has little to do with the actual political process. I’m excited for one reason.
When tomorrow ends the ignorance, amnesia, and stupidity will cease for the time being.
(Until this time next year, when the 2012 election circus begins its mad tour).
I’m weary of the amnesia of those with a conservative viewpoint (the Republicans blew their opportunity by spending like liberals toward the end of their “Contract with America” era). I’m tired of the willful ignorance of those with a liberal viewpoint (eight years of Bush wasn’t the sole reason that plunged us into the Great Recession; decades of irresponsible consumerism over several generations of American citizens combined with ever-growing corrupt federal government put us in this mess).
The thing that stuns me most, however, is this:
Christians are still putting more faith in politics than Jesus.
That is downright stupidity. It seems like so many Christians have removed their brains and put them in a jar. We have lost our minds.
Apparently, Glenn Beck has the answer to all our problems. So does the reinvigorated (although not reinvented) Republican party. If the Republicans can just regain control of the House of Representatives, it’s the first step toward victory in 2012. Which will be short-lived, because the world’s going to end on December 21, 2012 before Palin and the Grand Republican Army take the power back and we’ll be a Christian nation again.
Yes, that’s exaggerated. But to read the blog posts, tweets, and Facebook statuses of many Christians you would think that it’s (dare I say it) gospel truth.
Think this through for a second. The reason most people vote for a certain candidate or political party is that they believe that candidate or party will work to preserve or restore our way of life in the United States better than the other candidate or party. So that means we believe that the person we’re voting for will help get the world’s largest economy back on track, an economy with foundations of coveting and greed. We must continue spending for the economy to keep growing and thus maintain our way of life.
If we really listened to the message of Jesus, our economy would be significantly smaller than it is. And in the United States, so would our government. People would be taken care of because Christ followers would be generous, and the government wouldn’t have to be the monstrous “safety net” it is now. But that isn’t our reality. Our government has had to step up and become a safety net for people because the church has, by and large, stopped living out the gospel. And I write this as a Christian who is just beginning to learn how to live this out.
If you’re a Christian, here’s some thoughts as you head to the polls tomorrow:
- Voting straight ticket is intellectually shallow. What I mean is that to simply fill in the dot that says “Vote Straight ___________” without having educated yourself on the candidates and their views is irresponsible. Not all Republicans are conservative; not all Democrats are liberal. Cast your vote based on the candidate, not their party.
- There are more than two issues. Christians are notorious for voting for candidates based on two issues: abortion and homosexual marriage (now immigration is sneaking into the conversation). There are many other issues than those two. Educate yourself beyond them.
- Be the change you’re voting for. Voting is easy because it’s lazy. You think you’ve done your duty as an American citizen by casting your vote, and then you can go home and complain that nothing changes. Don’t be satisfied with just voting. If you’re passionate about being pro-life, volunteer at a pregnancy center or help mentor at-risk teens. If you’re passionate about ending poverty, find a non-profit in your community that deals specifically with alleviating poverty in the area. Whatever it is, don’t let your vote be the end of your involvement.
- Put your faith in the gospel instead of politics, and then live it out. Politics and legislation can only force people to change their outward behavior. It will not change hearts. And the political-governmental system is a woefully broken system. Remember that we’re called to live in tension between our earthly citizenship and spiritual citizenship. We’re first citizens of the kingdom of heaven. So go vote, but do so as a citizen of the kingdom of God. Then go inspire your church to actually be the kingdom of God in your community–to take light into darkness, to go to places where most Christians fear to tread, and be Jesus to those who need him most.
And regardless of who wins or loses tomorrow, pray for those in power and those who will be in power. Jesus died under an increasingly paranoid emperor. Peter and Paul lived under the reigns of a few of Rome’s most notorious rulers. Yet, their writings do not tell Christians to pursue a political agenda to bring change. They tell us to live out the gospel regardless of who assumes political power.
If we would do these things instead of falling under the spell of political victory, maybe the stupidity will erode.
Somehow, I doubt it ever will.