Every four years we see the true character of our nation. In the summer, we’re as united as Americans can be as we cheer on our athletes in the Olympics. Grown men of all races sit around TVs in homes, restaurants, and bars cheering on people we don’t know playing sports we’ve never heard of. We unite under the banner of being American and revel in the fact that we live in the second greatest country in the world (second only to the great nation of Texas, of course). No sooner than the Olympics are over, however, we immediately transition into Civil War mode, and we become the most divided country in the world when politics take center stage. Isn’t it amazing how the trivial unites us, but the vital divides us? What does that say about where we’re headed? What does that say about what we really value? The best way to unite our country is to get us to compete in games that mean nothing, and the easiest way to divide us is to try and get us to cooperate in the building of our society, which in some sense means everything. If that’s not an indictment on where we are as a country, I don’t know what is.
Now, understand, I’m a Christian and a pastor, so my aim isn’t cultural or political commentary in a broad sense; it’s aimed specifically at Christians who find themselves as willing (or unwilling) participants in this Civil War that follows a time of "peace". A greater indictment than what our country does as a whole is the way that we as Christians are divided. Amid all the tweets of people saying the EXACT same thing, what I haven’t found are attitudes that reflect those tweets (at least leading up to the election). One week removed from the election, I feel like things are back to “normal” and our tension is kept at bay. I know that there’s a whole can of worms that can be opened as you talk about politics, but there is one in particular that I really believe would help us as believers four years from now when the next election comes our way.
Let your political stance every four years match the way you live in the interim.
This election brought about an interesting dynamic, in light of Governor Romney’s statement on abortion. For the first time, at least since I’ve been able to vote, we had a Republican candidate say that, “There is no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” Many people interpreted what he said as “I don’t plan on doing anything about abortion.” In wanting to be fair to governor Romney, he later clarified his stance and said that wasn’t what he meant at all. My objective is not to argue whether he meant what he said or not; instead, I want to focus on what his statement potentially signified. I believe that the popular interpretation of his comment is so indicative of the political posture of many of us. “I believe strongly about this; however, I don't really plan on doing anything about it.”
It is paralyzing to die on a hill of belief when actions won’t accompany it.
Let me create caricatures to make this point plain. The caricature of the Republican party is that they are the party that cares about abortion—that’s the topic many Christians use to defend why they can only vote for the Republican party. The caricature of the Democratic Party is that they are the party that cares about the poor—that’s the topic many Christians use to defend why they can only vote for the Democratic party. The issues are more complex than this, but for the sake of argument, let’s go with these caricatures.
If abortion is the main issue, and if abortion is the hill you’re willing to die on (every four years of course), then the real marker of your stance is not the outcome of the election. The real measure of the depth of your conviction and burden is what you have done in the past seven days to help rectify this problem (because it is a problem). What are your plans for the next seven days? I know what your plans are three years and 51 weeks from today, but what are your plans in the interim? If you don’t have any, you may fall into this demographic— “I believe strongly about this; however, I don’t really plan on doing anything about it.”
For the sake of fairness, how much are you really burdened for the poor and disenfranchised? Since the election, how have you implemented poverty alleviation in the past seven days? What are your plans for the next seven days? I know what your plans are three years and 51 weeks from now, but what’s your plan right now? If you don’t have any, you may fall into the “I believe strongly about this; however, I don’t really plan on doing anything about it” demographic as well.
VOTING IS NOT ENOUGH
So here’s my point (if it’s not readily apparent)— I don’t care who you voted for last week. I think that a case can be made for Christian faithfulness regardless of who you selected on your ballot. My real plea is that you would live the next three years and 51 weeks as if whatever issue you were ready to “die on a hill” for last week is actually important. That you would live in such a way that shows you are pro-life by actually doing something about abortion. Find out how you can really make a difference. Get involved in the lives of individuals that are struggling. Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. Pray for the courage and boldness to be an advocate for those who feel like they are trapped and have no other choice but abortion. Pray for the leaders who legislate regularly. Get involved in the politics that really make a change.
If you have a heart and burden for the poor, pray for them. Rearrange your finances and money for their benefit. Come up with a plan as to how your family is going to alleviate the real needs of the actual people that surround you, and not the hypothetical individuals that you vote to help.
How are you being proactive in this? Are you as proactive in this as you were with spouting off statements on why your candidate was the best?
In a nutshell, prove how much your political stance really means to you by the way you live during the years in between elections. After these three years and 51 weeks go by, make sure your vocal political stance during election season doesn’t exceed your actual political stance in the in between. You may find out you're not as passionate about politics as you think you are. And a few of you may find out that you’re more passionate than you thought.