It being Election Day in this continually polarizing political season, I find myself struggling once again to understand just for whom I was to cast my ballot. In my effort to better understand just who I might align with regarding important issues, my wife sent me one of those online quizzes that is supposed to “help” you figure out which candidate best fits.
So, I filled it out, only to find that I was mostly split down the middle between the two primary candidates. In my attempt to express this frustration of wondering what to do for so many of us who find ourselves in a similar situation, I went to social media. First mistake.
But my mistake led to a better understanding of just why we find ourselves where we are as a country. People will continue to point blame at certain things, but I think I’ve discovered three major things based on this experience.
1. We don’t read well.
I can’t even begin to express how many times that I have put something out on social media and it’s gone south, not because I was insensitive or unthinking, but because people failed to read. We are saturated with information. It comes at us a thousand miles a minute and we don’t know how best to try to process it all. In our effort to do so, we simply scan things and do cursory readings rather than taking the time to really read things.
I am 100% guilty of this. I do it with news. I do it with emails. I do it with mail. I do it with pretty much everything, and I can tell you that I have been burned by it before. I am learning to get better, but in order to get better, I need to understand my own limitations. What am I capable of processing well.
It’s a lesson that most of us probably learned at one time or another when we were in grade school, middle school, or high school. Make sure to read the complete question on your test so as not to misunderstand. Somehow, what we learned back then did not stick.
2. We talk past each other.
Maybe you have found yourself in a situation with a person where no matter how hard you try to reason with them, they continue to say the same things over and over again. While I haven’t witnessed this in a physical conversation, I have been witness to plenty of it online. People have their issues to defend and instead of entering into dialogue and trying to hear and understand the other’s perspective, they simply wait for the other person to take a breath so that they can get in their shots.
We don’t read well and we don’t listen well. If we enter into a conversation and we feel that while the other person is speaking we are simply thinking of the next thing to say, we probably aren’t dialoguing well. While it’s cheesy and cliche, there is something to be said about the old adage that we have been given two ears and one mouth so we should therefore listen twice as much as we talk.
3. The church should show the way.
Over the past few years, I have been a part of conversations with others who follow Christ as to whether or not the word “evangelical” should be excised from our vocabulary. It has been abused and misused and I think the original meaning has been lost on those who have idolized positions, issues, candidates, and a political system that is flawed.
God made it clear to the Israelites early on in their history that a king would not be the answer they were looking for. He told them just what a king would do and how a king would lead them. They were supposed to be a nation that was led by God. Instead, they chose to be like all the other nations around them and have a king. The rest is history, and we can see the result as we read through the Old Testament and see king after king disappoint, fail, and abuse their own people.
While Jesus was political, he was not a politician. He also understood that politics is a system in which we need to operate, not a system of salvation. Too many within the church have looked at the current system of government as a means of salvation from all the “bad people” in the world.
The church should not be led by anxiety and worry. Instead, we should show that our hope is in Christ. We should be leading the way to show that we do not believe that a political party will somehow save us but that we have only one savior, one who did not fit well into the systems of man either.
I don’t know what the outcome of today’s election will be. I can’t say that I have a specific outcome that I am hoping for either. But I do know that it is my responsibility as a follower of Christ, to be focused on a kingdom that is not of this world. That does not mean that I don’t care about what happens here, because I do. It simply means that when things look bleak, when they don’t go the way that I want them to, when I feel hopeless, I need to refocus my hope on the only one who can hold that hope. It is not a political party, system, or candidate, it is the one king who will not falter or fail.