Generally I stay relatively non-political online, but watching the postings of so many people on facebook and elsewhere I felt the need to say some of what I am not hearing but think needs consideration.
One side of me is rejoicing to be in a land where elections happen regularly and though they may or may not mean a change in the government, it is HIGHLY unlikely one will result in a civil war. Here in the United States, I know I will not be shot for entering a polling place for the name I mark on my ballot. (Though I admit that at times in our history that was sadly the case for various individuals and groups) I hear a lot of complaining about life here, but we really have it pretty good. Even in Cameroon, which is infinitely more stable than most countries in West Africa, elections mean updating evacuation plans and stockpiling some food in case some sort of unrest erupted that might disrupt our daily lives. Were we worried? Not really, but many of those I worked with had experience unrest, riots, and evacuations from other countries (often sparked by elections or the lack there-of) so there is always SOME degree of discomfort waiting to see what will or will not happen. I praise God that Cameroonians are generally peace-loving people, and my heart breaks for the people in so many countries worldwide where voting is a dream the majority will never see realized and elections mean nothing but chaos, uncertainty, and fear.
One side of me is crying, knowing that so many Americans are willingly being misled by something that may seem on the surface to be good and yet could be quite problematic. We live in a country of opportunity and choice, and the choices made in course of the election have basically left us with two candidates. The two options we have in front of us both wear disguises. (I am only addressing two aspects of these disguises here. In no way am I claiming that these two issues provide a complete picture of either candidate – only that they are illustrative of my frustration)
One is supported by many because he promises to help the “poor”, but does so in a manner that we have often seen destroy the dignity and worth of individuals and people groups here and around the world. (See When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor by Corbett and Fikkert.) YES, we need to help the poor! As Americans who have so much and even more so as Christians in a broken and hurting world, we MUST step out of our own comfort and share the resources (financial AND otherwise) we have been blessed with in order to help others. However, I do not believe that the welfare system in its current state does that. Could it with massive revision? I really don’t know, but I do know that until we start looking at one another and at each other’s gifts and needs in a manner that truly seeks to honor one another as individuals created by God, a solution will not be found. So often we simply throw money in the direction of what appears to be a financial need without investing the time and energy in discovering both what that person has to offer and what they truly need. We don’t want to get our hands dirty by digging deeper to discover what is at the heart of the need. Though financial and physical needs ARE likely a part of the picture, they are RARELY the whole picture!
The other is being supported by many because he is moral. I agree that morality is important, just as I agree that we should help the poor, and I want a president with moral standards, however that isn’t sufficient. The problem here lies in the fact that so many Americans who would check the box indicating that they are ‘christians’ are really moralists. I will admit that having a ‘moral’ president may be an improvement over many we have had in the past, but it worries me that so much of the conservative Christian community supports him on this basis alone. Guess what – being moral, living a ‘good’ life is NOT the same as being a Christian. Though Christians should seek to live a moral and ‘good’ life as a way to honor and glorify God. That is only an outpouring of what makes you a Christians.
A Christian is someone who acknowledges that they CAN’T be ‘good’ on their own and has accepted the gift of grace provided by Jesus through his death and resurrection. A Christian is someone who has handed their lives over to and seeks a personal relationship with Jesus. I am not talking about Jesus, a good man or even Jesus, a prophet. I am talking about Jesus, the Son of the one and only God, our savior. If you are not willing to put Jesus on that throne, and acknowledge him as the Son of God you are not a Christian. If you do not believe that Jesus who walked this earth nearly 2000 years ago was the son of the living God incarnate here on earth and yet a man, subject to the temptations of all earthly men but free from guilt or sin, you are not a Christian. If you do not believe that He was crucified, died, and was resurrected, you are not a Christian. Today it is not popular to put Christianity on such concrete and inflexible terms, but the reality is this: God is God, and there are some things He did not leave open for interpretation.
We are called to love one another whether or not they agree with us, but we cannot compromise on TRUTH in the process. It is completely possible to love and act lovingly towards those with whom we disagree (just as it is sadly possible to be hurtful and hateful to those we love).
The moral of today’s rant? American citizens, VOTE! It is your right and responsibility. However, think carefully about what you are voting for, and why you are choosing them. Also, regardless of the outcome, remember that we are told (1 Peter 2:13, Romans 13:1, etc) to submit to the earthly governments that are over us. Though it will continue to be our responsibility to be the voice of the voiceless and to be sure that though the majority may have chosen that person that the other nearly half of society still has rights, that doesn’t mean disrespecting the man who is elected. We don’t have to like him (whichever ‘he’ is elected), but we do owe respect to the office he holds and the democratic process (flawed though it may be at times) that put him there.