I’m glad the 2012 presidential election is over in the U.S. It was the most polarized election I’ve ever voted in, with so many people having such strong opinions that they were so quick to talk about. Many referred to it as the most important election of our lifetime. Almost everyone seemed to have a strong opinion about which candidate was best (or at least better) for our nation.
I found myself involved in more email discussions about politics than ever before. In fact, one day I received almost 80 messages from friends expressing their political opinions. We argued about who would make the better president for our nation. We displayed charts and graphs showing what would happen to the economy if our favorite candidate won or lost.
|It all got so bad I didn't want to turn on the television. What happened to the good news? Did it get lost in the clamor?
We shared news items and opinion pieces that either agreed or disagreed with our points of view. It was an interesting exchange of ideas, opinions, facts and quotes. But something was missing—any good news. We were focused on faltering economies, the dropping value of the dollar, unemployment and weaker military. We were not focused on which candidate would make it easier to share the gospel. We were so caught up in “what might happen if…” scenarios that we lost focus on what is truly important and who is truly in charge.
I noticed that more conversations at church were about politics and the state of our nation than they were about our journey with Jesus and what God was doing in our lives. When I was with pastor friends, we spent more time talking about politics than we ever had in the past. We were much more likely to talk about politics than about the kingdom. Then I started noticing how depressing the TV news was—and how many of the politicians had resorted to negative campaigning. It got so I didn’t want to turn on the television. What happened to the good news? Did it get lost in the clamor?
God called us to be the salt of the earth, to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). He commissioned us to be the bearers of good news, to be beacons of hope people can look to when the problems of the world overwhelm them. We are called to rise above arguments among Republicans, Democrats, Independents and the Tea Party and to never forget who we are—adopted children of God.
The apostle Peter reminds us that we have been chosen to be the bearers of good news. “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter 2:9-10, The Message throughout). The good news is not only telling others the night-and-day difference God made in my life, it is also telling others about the night-and-day difference God has made in their lives through Jesus. This has little to do with politics and politicians.
Peter continues: “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives” (1 Peter 2:11-12). These verses remind me I am to be a peacemaker in the political process. Of course I will have opinions and will vote for whomever I believe is best for our country. But I also acknowledge that others have their opinions, and they will vote as their consciences direct. Our opinions may differ, but God loves us all.
Then we come to the “political” section of Peter’s letter. “Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government” (1 Peter 2:13-14). The best political actions I can take are to vote as wisely as I can, pray for all officeholders and share the gospel.
People need good news. They need to hear that God is in charge. They need to know that nothing is done without God’s knowledge and agreement. (And agreement does not necessarily mean endorsement.) They need to know God loves them. That he is not and never has been mad at them. That he sent his Son for them because of his steadfast love. They need to know the wonder of the Incarnation and what it means that Jesus became one of us so we could become like him. They need to hear about the blessing of being adopted by God. They need to know the blessing of mercy, the hope of reconciliation and the grace of forgiveness. They need to know and hear some good news.
I’m glad the election is over. Now it’s time for us to refocus on sharing some good news, on encouraging and inspiring people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s my plan. Will you join me?