Like many, I have grown tired of the negative campaigning. I am disgusted by all of the distorting, twisting, and manipulating of facts by both Presidential candidates in order to impugn the credibility of each other. I listened to all three Presidential Debates and the Civil Forum hosted by evangelical Pastor Rick Warren but I do not listen as one who is ultimately interested in the well-being of the United States. I listen as a Christian who has committed my life to the vocation of Christian missions and ministry, whose passion is the good news of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. This is precisely why I am so disturbed.
Both Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama profess to be Christian. Therefore I expected to hear convictions and goals which have been clearly shaped by a Christian worldview and the values that proceed from such a view. As I listened to both candidates I was expecting them to talk about how to love the enemies of America and how to pray for them. I was expecting them to speak about how to employ the power of the cross that calls people to a life of self-surrendering service. I was expecting them to speak about how to meet the needs of the weakest and most vulnerable people of our world. But this is not what I heard. Instead, each candidate spoke about destroying the enemy, trusting in the power of swords and chariots to dominate the enemy and preserve America as a power. The focus of each candidate seems more interested in protecting American interest rather than serving the needs of the entire world that God loves.
I shared my expectations with a friend and minister colleague of mine and he said that my expectations were nice except for one fact: voters would never support such expectations. Is this right? Are not many of the voters also professing Christians? If so, then why would they not support someone who pursued the love of enemy, employing the power of the cross, and helping the weak and vulnerable among the world?
The truth is that one has already come who preached and lived out the values of love (even to the enemy), carried a cross not just as an event in history but also as a way of life, and put aside his own interests in order to be a conduit of grace to the entire world (including the enemy as well as the weak and vulnerable). His name is Jesus. Yet we, who profess his name as our confession, seem to have separated the life he lived and called us as his followers to live from our politics (something the state seems very happy with).
Such separation of politics from faith conviction is done in selective fashion of course. Neither Democrat nor Republican desires to love their enemy, at least not to the point of laying down the sword and becoming a servant to the enemy. Yet both will lay claim to being concerned with the most weak and vulnerable. One group will do so by limiting the category of “weak and vulnerable” to the unborn who are murdered every year under the guise of women’s rights. In turn, the other side will do so by rallying to the cause of the working class poor who suffer every year at the hand of trickle down economics called capitalism. Yet beyond the borders of America lives the majority of the world’s most weak and vulnerable who fall beyond the radar of both Presidential candidates and their supporters because such people are of no use to the self-preservation of personal interest and power.
Somewhere beyond the categories of Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative, is Jesus the Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who calls his people to a different way. This call is not limited to the confession of a creed. Our call is also a confession expressed in the ways of life, the values that shape our life, and the means by which we pursue such life. Yet as the current political process rolls into its final two weeks before Election Day, the call of Jesus increasingly looses its significance as the voters prepare to make their choice. Right now, it seems as though there is little need for the way of Jesus. Instead, what seems needed is the way of Democrat or Republican, Obama or McCain. As this felt need seems to increase daily, the words God spoke to Samuel seem to echo all the more. “…It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king” (1 Sam 8.7, TNIV).