It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but we in the USA seem to live in a perpetual election. In this day and age candidates declare that they’re going to run years before the actual presidential election. We’ve been having debates on the 2016 election for what, almost 6 months now, and 2016 is barely 6 WEEKS old! I flipped on the TV tonight and was bombarded with talking heads going on about yet ANOTHER “CRUCIAL” debate. I jumped on Twitter and saw the usual debate feeding frenzy of “my candidate is the only one who can save America and your candidate is human trash.” Then I logged on to Facebook, and well, apparently white people are mad at Beyonce for some reason and can’t be bothered to think about other things.
I dunno, man. It’s ugly.
Maybe you’re a little like me and just kind of sick of it all. I mean really, what’s left to say at this point? The Republican side has been an absolute farce with the front-runner being an openly racist, sexist, irritating billionaire who says he reads the Bible but then goes on TV and talks about “Two Corinthians.” The Democratic side has gotten just as intolerable with one candidate who for some reason feels like she’s just entitled to be president at this point and a genuinely concerned old senator who is promising an agenda that he can in no way deliver on, barring a Democratic takeover of the House and a super-majority in the Senate, neither of which will probably happen. Meanwhile many of his followers have become so mean spirited that they turn people off to their own candidate.
It’s a right mess, isn’t it? Now I’m sitting here thinking, “Who in the world am I going to vote for?”
This isn’t a blog about a particular candidate or a blog telling you how to vote. I can’t stand when people do that. I’m so tired of all the garbage and mudslinging that I was actually considering disengaging and not voting at all for the first time since I’ve been eligible to do so. So I’ve been praying about it, thinking about it, searching the scripture, and wrestling will all this.
Earlier this evening something Brian McLaren said in his book “Everything Must Change” came to mind. He said that the real revolutionary thing about Jesus was that he offered a new way of doing things, a new way of living life, a new way of viewing politics even. When Christ stepped onto the scene in the first century CE, Rome ruled Judea and much of the rest of the known world with an iron fist. It was their way or the highway. Against them were people like the Zealots who sought a revolution and violent overthrow of Rome. Then there were people who just wanted to “keep peace” and collaborated with the Romans, think the Sanhedrin and the Jewish tax collectors. Finally there was even a group called the Essenes who just wanted to withdraw from all of it.
Jesus offered an alternative to all of that. He wasn’t down with Roman rule, but neither did he seek to overthrow them in violent revolution. He didn’t collaborate with the Romans to “keep the peace,” nor did he seek to withdraw from society and not engage on these issues. Instead he got down with people on their level as a teacher, as a friend, as a healer, and even as a subversive personality. He made people think instead of just react, and he cherished the role of servant and shunned the role of Master with all it’s power.
And think of it, Jesus as God, Word Made Flesh, God from God, Light from Light, could have wielded unlimited power to destroy Rome and make things right for many people, yet he did not, even after being offered that power by the Accuser (Matthew 4: 8-11). He could have mopped the floor with his enemies, but he did not. Instead he said:
“Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who seek justice, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5: 1-9).
“Turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5: 39).
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5: 44)
“All who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).
And those are just the highlights! The Gospels are full of Jesus’ teaching that challenges the power of the day, challenges the conventional views, and invites us to dare to live something better: The Kingdom of God where the last are first, the first are last, the hungry are filled with good things, and the mighty are brought down from their thrones.
Does any of that sound like anything that ANY of our politicians are peddling? Of course not. These views and teachings are not popular, even with the so called “Christian Candidates.”
But Jesus tells that we cannot disengage. We are not to hide our light where nobody sees it and we are to be the “Salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5: 13-16). Maybe instead of taking the run of the mill “liberal vs conservative” approach we’re called to take the Kingdom approach and teach and live these ideas.
That’s what I’m going to do with this. I’m going to try to find the best candidates who represent these ideals, and prayerfully consider this between now and November. I’m sure that there will be PLENTY more debates for me to consider between now and then, oh boy!