No, this is not one of those article bashing your candidate or promoting mine. This isn’t even one of those calling for a “return to our values” or lamenting the moral state of America. I’m not advocating for a particular position or going to instruct you on how to vote biblically, I’m just sad and a little afraid and a lot embarrassed and I needed to get it on paper.
This election year the American people and the American church each find themselves at a crossroads for vastly different yet intimately related reasons. The American people are nearing the end of a road we have been on for a long time. A road in which we have complacently exchanged free thought for spoon-fed ideas served up by whichever media outlet tells us exactly what we want to hear. A road in which we have willingly lost our desire and even ability to debate and exchange ideas, and with that our ability to respect one another. This lack of respect has led us to a place in which we are potentially more polarized than at any time since the civil war. There is only “us and them,” “right and wrong,” and “red and blue.” If a politician has ideas that differ from ours, rather than listen to their thoughts, process their reasoning and come to a conclusion we immediately write them off as (in the best case) stupid or (more often) a traitor out to destroy everything we hold dear. A perfect example is the fact that many people reading this have just determined everything else I am going to say is ridiculous. For most of them there is sadly nothing more that can be done. My words have been judged and found wanting and that’s simply the end of the story. The idea of listening and engaging in thoughtful, civil debate and finally agreeing to disagree (or, God forbid, changing one’s mind after processing new ideas) is a sign of weakness in the new America. It is this, not Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or Barrack Obama that is tearing our nation apart. It’s our fault, not theirs. We are a nation turned against itself and the current political climate is a product of our own stubbornness and pride. We must rediscover what it means to exchange ideas. We must relearn what it means to respect those that think differently than us and we must return to the concept that our diversity is our strength. If we don’t I’m afraid we may soon pass the point of no return.
There are many of us in the American church that are looking at the current state of the nation with a disapproving eye and muttering under our breath (or often times out loud) “I told you so.” We have gotten away from family values and ignored the fact that we are a christian nation built on a foundation of christian morals and ethics. “One Nation Under God” is all but forgotten and has been replaced by a war on christianity, so who can be surprised at where we are now? Do I have most of that right? Well, the debatable validity of the previous statements notwithstanding let me go ahead and be the bearer of bad news – much of the blame for the place in which our country finds itself can be laid squarely on the church steps.
We have not been who we say we are. We have not done what we say we do. We have created idols. Idealogical idols. Political idols. Financial idols. We have fallen into the ancient trap of believing the kingdom we pray for, the kingdom we serve, will be an earthly kingdom that through the sweat of our brow and the volume of our voices we can create ourselves. We have, most of all, confused the idea of America with the truth of the gospel. They are not the same.
The American church is at a crossroads. Which master will we serve? We will humbly serve the God that gave us everything? The God that implores us to serve others. The God that tells us not to worry too much about the government because all power is approved by Him. The God that tells us our role is to love.
Or we will serve the political system? The system that would have us replace the gospel with the agenda of a particular party or special interest group. The system that wants us for our votes so that they can have their power. The system that tells us the most important things in the world are freedom, security and prosperity despite the fact that the Bible warns us that truly following Jesus will often times lead to the exact opposite of those things.
I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, that’s got nothing to do with me. I’m not even going to tell you who I’m voting for, that’s got nothing to do with you. I will tell you is do your research, listen to the candidates and vote for who you think will do the best job. I am also going to tell you that the United States needs the church. The United States needs the church to lead through love and service just like the Savior we claim to follow. And we are failing.