The Vain Search for a King

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).

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13 responses to “The Vain Search for a King

  1. Amen, brother. I’ve been writing on much the same subject lately. Too many Christians seem to feel that their future will be determined by who wins the November 4 election.

    I tell them that my kingdom had its “election” a long time ago…

  2. Totally agree. Lately been wondering about application and implication of each professing Christian seeking to turn every potential “Sword” into “Plowshare.”

  3. Rex,
    When you expressed disappointment about the candidates because they did not address the need to care for the weakest and most vulnerable in the world, I was reminded of Rick Warren’s final question to each candidate. He talked about the need to care for the world’s orphans and the need for adoption to be made easier. Then he asked each candidate to commit to finding ways to help make it easier to care for and to adopt the orphans of the world. I thought Rick’s question was ingenious. Both candidates were responsive to the question because both had an interest in it. Senator Obama has worked on the AIDS crisis in Africa. So he knows about the problems facing African AIDS orphans. Senator McCain has adopted a daughter from Bangledesh (sp?). So he has a heart for orphans, too. Although neither candidate has made it a centerpiece in his campaign, both are willing to do something to help. I appreciate Rick Warren’s efforts on behalf of the orphans. Because of his influence, people in power realize that the plight of orphans in a concern of Christians in America, today.

    I just thought this might give you a little reason to see some rays of hope in this campaign season. It did for me.

  4. Terry,

    Thanks for stopping by. You are right to point out that each candidate has done things in their life to help the weakest and most vulnerable. However, you are also right to notice that neither candidate has such care at the centerpiece of their campaign and presidential goals. What is telling about each president hopeful and the parties they represent is where they spend the money. A few days ago someone pointed out to me that during the years of President Clinton, health care reform was attempted but ultimately failed. During the early years of President Bush’s appointment, social sercurity reform was attempted but ultimately failed. But when Wall Street needed help, it was a matter of moments before our elected officials gave away 700 million dollars. Our elected officials have also spent over 500 billion dollars for war in one country – not to mention the significant loss of life of military soldiers (both US, Iraq, and other countries) and civilians caught in the wrong spot at the wrong time (and I realize that Sadam Hussein was a bad dude, but did we the US really wage war on Iraq because he was the world’s most dangerous individual?).

    My point is simply to say that neither candidate really has anything in mind but the preservation and protection of Democratic and Republican American power. This does not mean that I dislike either candidate (I think Americans could certainly do a lot worse than Barack Obama and John McCain), I am just tired of seeing and hearing Christians act as though the will of God and the future hope of the world hinges upon American politics and who is eventually elected as President.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  5. Rex, I agree that Christians (as in the current candidates) should have better things on their minds than mindless, win at any cost, politics. They should strive for better qualities and I think Obama’s campaign has done a good job of this until recently. But your statement: ” separation of politics from faith conviction is done in selective fashion of course” is correct and problematic for several reasons. First is that not all Americans are Christians. The second is that not even all Christians agree on matters of economics, foreign policy and domestic social issues. So deciding national policy can both unite some groups and alienate others. I dont think this is easily dealt with among politicians. They get harassed from everyone who disagrees with one point of their proposed platform. What can they do? The first thing that comes to mind is they can just take it on the chin and not respond in kind. But this doesnt work. Its sad but negative ads work for a reason- because people believe them, they focus on them, and they relish in them. Much like the crowds of people calling for Jesus’ execution and the release of Barabbas, people will grab a negative ad and cause such a stir that the issues dont even matter anymore. So where does the blame really lie? Its on us. As much as I would love the presidential candidates to take the higher road, I dont see that they have a real choice given their audience. The masses demand blood and they will get it.

    peace,
    Brian

  6. Brian,

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I am aware that not every voter is a Christian nor does every Christian agree the same on all the issues out there. That does not mean that as a Christian, if we should choose to run for a political office, we should chuck our faith convictions out the door. I would much rather hear a candidate argue for a position I disagree with but hear that candidate argue for that position from convictions that are shaped by a Christian world view (if the candidate is a Christian).

    I also agree that the blame lies equally on the voters which is one of the points I am trying to make. Christian voters seem to want a king, at any cost. Your statement “The masses demand blood and they will get it” is so true, unfortunately many of the masses demanding blood appear to be professing Christians. What is wrong with this picture?

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  7. Exactly, those who call themselves Christians but still revel in the negative hate-mongery are way off track. So in a sense we have to fix the system from the ground up with good discipleship and/or evangelism. Then when the masses stop responding to negative political ads we can tell the candidates “its time for real change”. Of course thats easier said than done, and there will always be those people that indulge in the negative.

  8. Brian,

    Fixing from the ground up is exactly what I am hoping to help facilitate. I have no interest in ‘fixing Washington’, my interest is in helping Chrisitans rediscover the way of Jesus. If this helps transforms the politics in Washington DC then praise God.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  9. I agree with a lot of what has been written here. But…I think there is one defining reason to get involved in this campaign. We have a strong pro-life candidate and a strong pro-choice candidate. I think it’s imperative for those of us who think abortion is murder to vote for McCain and hopefully save the lives of thousands of babies. There are other issues, of course, but this one stands out to me.

    I agree with your distaste for the political rhetoric. It seems civility has become passe’ these days, replaced by bitterness and sarcasm. Makes the whole political process dirty to me.

  10. Tim,

    Thanks for stopping by the blog.

    What makes abortion a bigger issue than the rampant poverty that stretches accros the globe or the continued killing called war? I am not saying abortion is a lesser issue but I do not believe it is any bigger of an issue.

    Nevertheless, the point of my post is that too many Christians have pinned their hope on the political process as if what happens in the election is the biggest thing since apple pie. Christians have become more passionate about the election than they have about the gospel. In the US, Christians are more worried about being a patriotic American than they are about being a faithful disciple of Jesus which is why they applaud their candidate of choice even though both candidate are driven by values and objectives that have nothing to do with Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Is it any wonder why everyday there are more and more people who believe the Christian faith is irrelevant?

    -Rex

  11. It’s possible to be “Anti-abortion” yet not really be “Pro-life.” Pro-life (to me) includes being consistent regarding stem cell research; not going back to work the day after giving birth to a “special needs” child; not thinking fidelity to country excuses non-fidelity to wife; not using alcohol as the primary means of family income, etc. Pro-life can be seen in the willingness of a widower, who worked his schedule around sons as he went back and forth from Washington to Delaware. There are a lot of reasons why I may be voting for McCain but if I do, it will not be just because of a political sound byte claiming the Republicans are pro-life.

  12. The kingdom of the world can never be the kingdom of God.

    There is no such thing as a “Christian nation”. To desire the state to be the church is a futile thing – if not even sinful (think about that!) – for why then the church?

    The kingdom of God today is like Israel in Egypt, with Egypt being the world.

    And in Egypt there was Joseph running the show, at least initially. And Moses too grew up in Egyptian royalty.

    If you are called to be the President of US, do you think you will and can make the US the kingdom of God?

    No never! Not that it is the will of God in any case.

    Israel is to come out of Egypt, not to make Egypt their own.

    And you become President only if you play be the rules of the game – popular vote, electoral college, mass media, tons of money, etc etc – and who do you think wrote these rules? I am sure they are not in the bible.

    And if you called to be President, God will give you the wisdom to be the President, even as God gave Joseph, David, Solomon, Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, etc etc the wisdom, in accordance with His will and purpose.

  13. My goodness! Get your heads out of the sand and study your contaninated Jewish OT and Roman Catholic NT. Almost all forums are obsessed with politics. Did you never hear, “Politics is dirty!” Believers are, so saith Jesus, “In this world but not of this world.” Look what Jesus has done lately – 1992, taught us “God can count to three”; 2004 – closed one-third of catholic churches; 2006 – taught name of God is “He Is” (HWHY); 1997 – taught us 7 Spirits of God. Everything is upbeat! What are you crying about?

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