Living and working near Washington, D.C., it’s difficult to tune out the noise of politics, especially in a presidential election year. As much as I wish I could, this year, it’s impossible. It’s all over social media. It comes up in meetings and family gatherings. It’s literally everywhere.
Regardless of your news source of choice, every outlet from CNN to Comedy Central has shone the spotlight on one sketchy story after another. Shady business deals. Email scandals. Lying. Cheating. Crude and deplorable behavior. Some stories of candidates—and their explanations—are so ludicrous, you hold your breath thinking they are fiction, until you realize they may be real.
As a citizen, I’m concerned in the quality of the candidates. Watching interviews and debates, the lack of civility is embarrassing. Name calling, eye rolling, smirks, huffs, interruptions. And that’s just the first two minutes. But this is American politics as we’ve come to know over the years. Smear ads, negative campaigns and fear mongering have become synonymous with running for office. While concerning, none of this is shocking.
As a Christian, what is far more concerning and shocking is listening to the language, tone, reactions and utter lack of civility from the Christian community related to the election. The body of Christ has taken its cues from commercials instead of Scripture. As I read posts from friends on social media and blog posts from leaders, I’m left wondering what the end game is. What is the goal they hope to achieve with their passionate, yet always incomplete plea for why their preferred candidate is best and the other is not?
Is there no better way for Christians to participate in this election?
I say yes.
Barring a historical change of events, the reality is, one of these two candidates is going to be the Commander-in-Chief of our country in four months. How much change can be instituted in that time by pointing out the faults of the candidate you oppose? How much impact will more finger pointing do? What good will come from more he-said she-said rhetoric? How many minds do you think can be changed?
For those who are concerned with our country and culture, I offer this suggestion: It’s time to stop talking and start planning. Instead of wasting more internet bandwidth with one more article explaining why your candidate is “the lesser of two evils,” let’s start planning for the future with what our role and responsibilities will be regardless of who wins.
Regardless of who wins, we still need a plan to be the light of Jesus. We need a plan to love our neighbor as ourselves. We need a plan to offer hope to the hurting and peace to the suffering.
The problems facing our country need comprehensive solutions that will take collaboration and intense effort regardless of who occupies the White House. The fear of Christians being unable to do the work Jesus has called us to do because of an elected official is not supported by Scripture or history.
For hundreds of generations, Christianity has existed, even thrived, under the rule of secular and hostile governments. The first-century church was born into a political climate intent of destroying the church, yet it survived. The church survived the Dark Ages, the Enlightenment, Communism and post-modernism. I believe the church is able to survive Clinton-ism or Trump-ism.
It would serve our country, world, church and Savior more if we would spend less energy fighting over which of the imperfect candidates is going to do less harm than the other and spend more energy on how we will continue to love God and love others. There is not, nor ever been, a candidate that nearly, yet alone completely embodied God’s vision for the world. The onus of responsibility rests on God’s people to build God’s kingdom. There are seasons where rulers and authorities may enhance or impede the journey. This does not change our belief that “there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1).
Regardless of your voting preference, which candidate you prefer, which candidate you dislike most or any other of the hundreds of reasons you would vote (or not vote) for a candidate, you can still participate in building God’s Kingdom. This is the call to the church. This is the call to His people. Let’s spend the next few months planning how we can fulfill this call regardless of who occupies the White House.