#1. It’s the last day of my birthday month.
#2. It’s a week before midterm elections.
#3. It’s Halloween but who cares?
I had a lovely time during #1, but I don’t know how much more of #2 I can take. The amount of paper used to relentlessly distribute unrecyclable glossy-printed flyers alone – the ones full of conflicting “facts” and either the best or the worst picture of each candidate – will keep landfills bulging for years.
Like you, I am forced to think about the elections. (And yes, I voted early, and no, not a straight ticket, in case you’re wondering.) Even those who choose to skirt their polling place cannot ignore what has been said and done and promised in the name of patriotism.
I contemplate my work as a citizen, the tiniest of roles I play in what can only be described as a bottomless pit of confusion, trying to keep a nation running while holding the world at bay while simultaneously attempting to keep it in one piece. At peace. Which is a futile hope at best.
But then I consider my role as a woman of God, a follower of Jesus, a person of faith for whom the upheaval and chaos is both terrifying and distant. I am curious about the impact of decisions made in the next few days. How will the country and the world react to what happens? Who maintains or takes the reins will have little effect on me – but how will it change the lives of my young loved-ones… the ones who will inherit whatever is dumped on them? Yes that, my lovelies, is terrifying. I will have nothing to say about and no cures for the evils that may fall on the next generations.
At the same time, I must live what I believe…and trust in God’s promises.
The lyrics of songs we’ve sung recently are also on my mind. Two in particular.
Spirit, lead me where my trust is without bordersOceans, by Hillsong
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour
… and I was challenged. What do I mean when I sing it? Am I willing to go deeper, be more vulnerable, feel less in control, climb out on a limb? Am I really saying I’ll jump?
Because usually it feels like I take more of the Please Don’t Send Me to Africa approach.
Oh Lord I am your willing servant
You know that I have been for years
I’m here in this pew every Sunday and Wednesday
I’ve stained it with many a tear
I’ve given You years of my service
I’ve always given my best
And I’ve never asked you for anything much
So, Lord I deserve this request
Please don’t send me to Africa
I don’t think I’ve got what it takes
I’m just a man, I’m not a Tarzan
Don’t like lions, gorillas or snakes
I’ll serve you here in suburbia
In my comfortable middle-class life
But please don’t send me out into the bush
Where the natives are restless at night
I’ll see that the money is gatheredScott Wesley Brown
I’ll see that the money is sent
I’ll wash and stack the communion cups
I’ll tithe eleven percent
I’ll volunteer for the nursery
I’ll go on the youth group retreat
I’ll usher, I’ll deacon, I’ll go door to door
Just let me keep warming this seat
I’m amused by that last verse… where I make a list of all the things I could do from the comfort of my own home and church pew. Where I bargain with God: I’ll give Him the reins, except for the ones that keep me in my safe, comfortable, entitled life.
You see, I think we think we are willing to do what God asks. But when it comes right down to it, we justify doing it our way because what we want is perfectly fine – and, besides, it poses no threat. Now how, you might ask, does this tie into the issue of the election?
Well, maybe the words of this next song will begin to explain.
Heal my heart and make it cleanHosanna, by Hillsong
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
I sing with gusto, expressing the desire to love like Jesus did, to be so moved by the destructive, selfish, and evil ways of man that my heart can’t take it. That I’m so heartbroken, I have no choice but to do something about it. To go deeper, treading water, trusting that the strength will hold out while I talk about what I see.
And what I see is that we talk about following the leading of God, answering his requests with Yes, without hesitation. And then we call an audible, so we don’t find ourselves in Africa.
(I’m aware my thinking is not always linear. There isn’t always a straight line from my emotions to my words or from my lyric prompts to the point of my essay. But work with me here.)
Political positions have become more heated and divisive than any we’ve ever seen, and it’s my birthday month, so I am well aware of how many election cycles I’ve endured. But when God asks me to go deeper into the deep waters of the Christianity and nationalism, I generally say But how can it help if my words alienate people? And besides what do I know, I’m not a Bible scholar?
And then I’m reminded of my own words:
Take me deeper and my faith will be stronger.
Break my heart for what breaks yours.
So, I dare to go deeper and speak about what breaks the heart of God…
- Children separated from their parents at the southern border.
I don’t give a diddly squat about U.S. laws or border control or the quotas. Jesus cared about children with the same love He has for me and you and if you think for one minute that a child in a cage doesn’t break His heart, well, then we have a completely different idea of the expanse of God’s love.
- Choosing a selfish and corrupt leader because he said he’s a Christian but, from what I see, displays not even one fruit of the Spirit and appears to have no compassion for anyone and no patience except for those who promote and support him.
I have been reluctant to name Donald Trump because I know that God loves him too. (See that first bullet.) I cannot, however, believe for one minute that God’s heart does not hurt when the former President encourages violence, turns on his supporters when they fail to produce the desired results or even dare tell him he really did lose, and calls names like a school-yard bully.
- Celebrating the overturn of Roe v. Wade and labeling it “the will of God” when it was accomplished by the most insidious actions of people who claim to love Him while lying to the public and promoting personal dockets.
Yes, I know. God used ne’er-do-wells, scoundrels, rogues, and rascals to accomplish His goals. But when those who claim to follow Jesus and live by His word skirt the very intentions of the country’s laws and constitution that they claim to uphold to push their own belief system or agenda, well, I cannot imagine that God appreciates His name being used for political gain.
- Being more anxious about the price of gas and the security of a 401K than concerned about the welfare of entire countries being overrun by oligarchs and tormenters.
I am not foolish enough to believe that we, as a country, could keep the world safe. I know we will never see peace this side of heaven. But I also know that God does not love us more than any other people group. He did not create a Manifest Destiny that gives license to the white and powerful to overrun a continent and steal land from its rightful inhabitants. He doesn’t hope for a Christian nation.
- “We have all the answers.”
Author of Shoutin’ in the Fire: An American Epistle, Dante Stewart said,
“The greatest threat to Christianity is not secularity. It is certainty. When you are so convinced that you are right, then you will create all types of enemies and cut yourself off from all the ways God is active in another person’s experience.”
I could have said that it my own words, but I couldn’t have said it better. Suffice to say, I am simply so sad when I hear fellow Followers speak with authority but without humility or willingness to consider other ideas or perspectives. When we beat down awe and wonder about all things spiritual and heavenly, we reduce God to a small system of our own beliefs and understandings. It’s not OK.
- I’m a proud Christian Nationalist.
Just no. It is impossible for the love of Jesus to coexist in one soul with my-way-or-the-highway.
I am sure of very little. But I never doubt my own connection to God and that Jesus emboldened His followers to show love like it had never been seen. Display love that would shock the world. He said it over and over:
Love your enemies.
Help people that have nothing to give you.
Have more concern about the welfare of others than your standing with the big shots.
Pray for your bullies.
I heard someone say that there are two kinds of voters:
1. The ones who vote for the issues that would most impact their status quo or further their own view of the world.
2. The ones who vote for their neighbors, near and far.
And I know there are hot buttons that keep people at the polls, pushing a conservative or liberal or left or right grocery list of should be‘s. Those on both sides of reproductive rights and abortion issues will pull whatever lever that would tip the balance for that single issue. It may be protection of hard-won wealth or the right to carry a weapon. It may be saving the whales or standing up for the disenfranchised. It may be about who you love.
But whatever the issue that makes your heart beat fast, or your blood boil or run cold. Whatever gets you to the polls, please look up before casting that ballot. Ask two questions:
Who am I voting for?
Will my choice break the heart of God?
I really think it’s as easy as that.
And until we meet again, I pray for you