As presidential campaigns go, 2016 may not actually be the nastiest ever. Even before the internet and 24/7 cable coverage, US voters have frequently been dragged down by shocking, depressing campaign fodder. Candidate Grover Cleveland was paying child support for an out-of-wedlock offspring, inspiring the slogan, “Ma! Ma! Where’s my Pa?” His opponent James Blaine was left reeling when a personal letter surfaced, confirming his corrupt dealings with the railroads. Before that Abraham Lincoln was slandered as “a horrid-looking wretch, sooty and scoundrelly in aspect, a cross between the nutmeg dealer, the horse-swapper and the night man.”
And despite everything we’ve heard from talking heads and anguished neighbors, the current political divisions may not be the most serious crisis that has ever confronted our nation. When Abe Lincoln took office in 1860, he was quickly robbed of his newfound joy as states in the south began to nullify the election and announce their secession from the Union. The situation is certainly ominous today, but things must have looked awfully grim at the outbreak of World War I, amid the suffocating grip of the Great Depression, and during the Nazi terrors of World War II. The constitution has been imperiled in the past, as well.
If we have learned anything, we have surely learned that no war will ever end all wars; there is always a next one. And elections only settle things for four years. The next campaign begins almost immediately. We have also been reminded time and again that campaign promises have a very short shelf life, that all leaders have feet of clay, and that God never promised anybody the American Dream.
As citizens of Heaven, our hope is in the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. The church is not a museum of American cultural history: we are the Embassy of Heaven located on hostile soil in a foreign land. Whatever happens in the political world here, we must represent the values of the Kingdom of Light. Whether freedom seems to be rising or falling across this land, we must advance the interests of the Kingdom. We make disciples. Sometimes that’s easier when the world seems otherwise hopeless. Maybe these times are like that.
So I keep reminding myself that faith and hope are mostly the same. Our hope is not the last gasp of a desperate victim who clings to bland, wispy optimism. My hope in Christ is as certain as my hope that the sun will come up tomorrow; that payday will come in two weeks. I have been instructed and inspired by the confidence of those men who wrote the Psalms, not to mention my own experience with Christ.
Psalm 130: 5 – 6 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Psalm 23: 1 – 2 To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us.
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
I will be distracted neither by the winds of politics, nor the fashion of catchy slogans. Campaigns and candidates come and go, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.
Lift up the Cross!