Making Sense of Differing Political Views
Several years ago, we witnessed the historic inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America. Less than three months before that, this same man, Barrack Obama, was hailed by tens of thousands of adoring supporters in Grant Park, Chicago, as he declared victory while brave Senator McCain’s words of congratulation were drowned out by boos from his disappointed supporters in Phoenix, Arizona.
And yet amidst this monumental, historical events, the trees, stark and stripped of leaves and the waters of the lake beneath my study window are chilled as the Canadian geese will soon return from their southern migration to paddle serenely by. Throughout America, people are anticipating brilliant prospects for the majority and chill forebodings of anything from a wild leftward swing politically to global apocalyptic fears for the minority.
Some of my brothers and sisters are basking in the sunshine and others are huddling against the chill of the wind.
How can this be? How can men and women who acknowledge the same Lord, serve the same Master, are indwelt by the same Spirit, and nourished and informed by the same Bible arrive at differing political conclusions? Could it be that – say it quietly! - when it came to election time we became more partisan than pious and fed on political rhetoric rather than biblical reflection? Is it possible that we neglected praying for wisdom and simply “voted our pocketbook?” I’m sure this is possible, but I think the realities we must all face are not hard to discern. Nobody has the mental or spiritual capacity because of innate fallen-ness to understand everything – that is biblical truth or political reality -completely or grasp things perfectly. We are confronted by a bewildering cacophony of voices, compelling, contradictory, and competitive, that demand our concern for an equally bewildering variety of problems that scream for attention and demand solution. So some of us major on one issue of poverty and others on the problem of security. Then it becomes a matter of priority. In other words the situation in which we find ourselves is so demanding because fixing it all, lies beyond our human capability!
Does this mean then that we give up on our world, waiting for Jesus to appear in glory with trumpets sounding in the nick of time to rescue us from the threatening hordes? We must certainly embrace with unshakable confidence the glorious hope that He will return and His kingdom will come! But we are called to the task of bringing in the kingdom in the here and now and certainly have no divine mandate simply to wait for it to come in the there and then. And that clearly means being involved as citizens of heaven who have something unique to offer to our fellow citizens of this nation and the world.
But what do we have to offer that’s unique? First, a world view that insists that “this is my Father’s world” that it is fallen and that God intends to get it back and is busy doing it through the Risen Christ at work in His people, the church. Our understanding of fallen-ness, that polluting of everything and everybody that God created beautiful is a compelling reality that must inform our approach to individual lives and societal behavior and international relations. Second, a conviction that all people are created in the divine image and are therefore infinitely precious and must be objects of our concern and compassion not because we have become incredibly altruistic but because “the love of Christ compels” us. We know deep in our hearts we have a significant role to play in our sphere of influence and we seek to fulfill it with grace and good humor. Third, because we know we don’t know it all and recognize that others who differ from us could actually be right we listen as well as speak, we learn as well as teach, and we have the courage to change when it is clearly called for.
Whatever happens, Christians know they can go about their business of being agents of the change only God can bring about – the change in the hearts of men and women who have been put on enquiry by the caliber of life lived out before their eyes by citizens of heaven temporarily resident as citizens of America and the world.