It’s already started: candidates are throwing their hats in the ring and most people around me are looking for an underground bunker or getting ready to block half the people on their Facebook page in an attempt to dodge the crazy. I can’t blame them, but I think there is a better way. As opposed to making politics the ONE and ONLY THING or digging a hole and not coming up until 2017, I request that you consider the alternatives and attempt to save your sanity:
Look at the Issues
Every politician is going to do an about face on issues during their time in the spotlight. By finding issues we care about and ways to support them instead of people we want to take care of those issues for us, we’re left empowered to help with the changes we hope to see, hence freeing up politicians to be corrupted by money, to pander to lobbyist, and to outright lie. That’s their job, so leave them to it. Our job as followers of Christ is to do His work. Politicians will not have to answer for our apathy when asked what we did to better this place. “Uh, I voted?!?” Well, great. Then what?
Please don’t misunderstand me: I am NOT against involvement in government. On the contrary, I realize how lucky I am to live in a country during a time when my gender alone doesn’t keep me out of the voting process. Involvement is important. But let’s please not depend on our government to deal with problems that Jesus told the church to handle. Politics are one way, but they’re not the best way. Voting is a great place to start and a horrible place to stop. Claiming that Christian leaders will ensure nothing bad happens when we live in a country that has always prided itself on being a Christian nation, despite its history of slavery, sexism, taking land through murder, and only being able to brag of being desegregated for just over 50 years means we need to face the facts: we have a shady history, and not a stellar Christian one. There can be Christian politicians and Christians involved in politics, but I like reading about the Christians who locked into the grassroots movements that helped end slavery, helped create rights for women in the first feminist wave, the ones who fight for rape victims and victimized, marginalized people groups. Those who go to strip clubs to tell those women they are loved and who adopt babies and give them forever homes. Those jobs don’t come with term limits, and they are not limited to only an elite few.
Feel free to not engage in unhealthy, impersonal ways.
I’ve seen people’s political views changed by hateful posts, biting comments, and horrible social media manners exactly zero times. I’ve seen people changed by God’s love shining through His people many more. Let’s try that this election season, shall we?
Here’s an example: want to know why we’re modified vaccinators, why I’m pro-all life, including anti-abortion and anti-death penalty? Want to know how I feel about homeschooling, foster care, welfare, legalized marijuana? You might see me post an article on my Facebook or Twitter page about these issues, but if you want to discuss them further, you will have to do something amazing: meet me for coffee so a face-to-face conversation can commence where I will hear your side, share mine, and we can walk away with a better understanding of each other, though maybe still agreeing to disagree. That conversation, that sincere effort to know another person’s view, will replace the mean spirited comments sections, the I’m-right-your-always-wrong smugness. It will be people knowing people instead of alienating them.
Because Jesus was all about people and less about political systems. He was more about loving someone insanely than cutting them off over the hot button issue of the moment. He was more about loving our enemies (which I am good at about 2% of the time, maybe) and less about bashing, slamming, and looking for other’s weakest spots to exploit. He was less about your side versus mine and more about believers coming together to work for good and be a light to the lost world. And people, did I mention He was about all people since He knows the number of hairs on their heads and died for them and all? Yeah, so be about people and not just about the havoc you can reek on their newsfeed.
Pray for Our Politicians
Seriously, whether you like them or not. Whether you like politics or not. Just pray for them.
This is not an invitation to disengage but rather an invitation to engage in a different way. When you see that comment on Facebook, that post meant to be inflammatory, the words that make you twitch and ache to respond with your far superior answer, do this instead: walk away from the computer. Go figure out what you can do right then to not leave your life up to a politician or destroy one of your “friends” on the internet. Maybe it’s donating diapers to LifeTalk. Maybe it’s dropping off gently used clothes to Shiloh’s Place. Maybe it’s donating food to your local food pantry. Maybe it’s “adopting” a child through Compassion International or Hands and Feet Project, or getting involved with Embrace Texas to help support foster kids throughout the state. Maybe it’s reading Half the Sky and learning that help can be as difficult as full immersion in a culture before knowing how to help completely or as easy as sending salt to expecting moms in other countries, and you can get involved in the easy and the hard.
Before you get ready to side with “your man” or “your woman”, remember that if you are a Christian, “your man”, the God-man, is always on the throne. He is sovereign, needs no breaks, doesn’t require a House or Senate vote, is not swayed by lobbyist or corrupted by cash. Putting our support where it matters means backing Jesus and remembering any man or woman on this earth, even ones we admire, are fallible. Politicians will not be your Savior. We already have one and the big battle has already been won. We are free to start acting like it by doing His work all the time instead of reducing His work to hitting a like button or having the last word in an internet debate.
It’s a fact that next November, the day after the election results are read, about half the country will wake up happy and the other side defeated and confused. It doesn’t have to be that way. Living for Christ and involving ourselves in His work means the day after the election doesn’t have to be that different than any other day for us. And the days leading up to the election do not have to reduce us to our worst. God is still in charge. We still work for Him. Carry on with your sanity.