Post RNC and DNC
Now that the brouhahas of the two major political parties in this nation are behind us—namely their back-to-back presidential-nominating conventions—allow me this moment of non-partisan reflection. The longer I live and the more presidential campaigns I survive, the deeper grows my conviction that the life of unabashed self-advancement that seems a requisite to politics these days is blatantly antithetical to the radical call of Christ. Let me hasten to clarify that by this conviction, I am not suggesting that there is no place for the fully-devoted follower of Jesus in politics or in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. Joseph, Daniel, Esther, and Nehemiah are compelling biblical examples of divinely-placed believers who rose to highly influential positions within their respective governments. William Wilberforce is a shining example from our “modern” annals. God honors those who honor Him in the realm of service to humanity, including political leadership. But given the political climate in this nation—where 24/7 news cycles hyper-magnify every slip of the tongue and wink of the eye ad nauseam, where candidates and their political action committees spend literally billions of dollars in campaign ads eviscerating their opponents, where ethical standards and moral convictions it seems are banished from the arena of political contest by expediency and greed—you have to wonder how long a Peter or a James or a John or a Mary could survive a run for political office, while maintaining a radical devotion to Jesus and the ethics of His Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps the Prisoner was engaging in more than early-morning banter with the hastily awakened procurator—perhaps in that interrogation Jesus was deftly confronting Pilate, himself a political appointee of Rome, with a higher ethic. It certainly is clear that in these words Christ pronounces the steely truth about those who would take up their own crosses and follow Him: “‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here’” (John 18:36). And if His kingdom is not from here, then surely His followers live by a morality and an ethic that does not prevail here either—a morality that allows your opponents to nail you to a cross while you seek their forgiveness and reject personal retaliation, an ethic that leads you to turn the other cheek, to pray for those who “despitefully use” you, to love your enemy. No wonder when they came to crown him king, Jesus ran from office rather than for it (John 6:15). No wonder when the devil offered Christ the kingship of this world in exchange for His soul, Christ turned from office rather than toward it (Matthew 4:8-10). No wonder on the eve of His death Jesus spoke a “last word” about political ambition and position by simply instructing His disciples, “‘You are not to be like that’” (Luke 22:26). No wonder you and I have second thoughts about the political discourse of a nation drifting farther and farther from the decency and respectability of our beginnings. And no wonder we will find no savior in the contest this fall.