Some Christians are overjoyed by yesterday’s election results and others are wearing sackcloth and ashes this morning. The election represents a lot of things. In general, it’s a “throw the bums out” result, a repudiation of war, of bad economic policies, and of divisive and cynical politics.
And now the blogosphere is full of Christians reading the tea leaves. “It’s God’s judgment on America,” they say. “This ushers in the end times,” they say. “The United States is godless,” they say.
What a limited, foolish response. We Christians need to wake up and smell the coffee this morning. If it’s a sharp, leftward swing, then those who have held power and have proudly worn the “born-again Christian” label have deserved it. We haven’t seen such arrogance in our leaders since Nixon abused power back in the early 70’s. Whatever else it was, it was decidedly not a “Christian” way to govern.
What can we who follow Jesus learn from the last eight years? Well, here are some actions that, it would seem, showed a lack of the humility and charity that Jesus espouses:
- Compromising principles to broaden the political base.
- A failure to make tough decisions about spending, resulting in an emphasis on consumerism that our grandchildren will have to pay for.
- Hiring arrogant, unaccountable men like Rove, Rumsfield, and Cheney.
- Hiring arrogant, incompetent men like Gonzalez and Brown.
- A failure to include those with opposing views in the governing process.
- A lack of humility in communicating with the American people.
There are a number of high profile Christians who equated voting Republican with following Jesus. They put an emphasis on policies above character. Last month my mailbox was full of junk mail from Christian leaders telling me how to vote. They need to go back to the work of ministry and stop trying to do what Jesus never did* – that being to take his ministry to the political arena.
People are sick of so-called ministries like “Concerned Women” that exist to get Republicans elected. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t push for policies that Jesus would endorse. But Jesus was more interested in character and accountability than he was in fighting for better government. In fact, Jesus, ever the champion of the underdog, spent a lot of energy tweaking an arrogant establishment in the same way that those voting for Obama tweaked the Bush administration.
People who follow Jesus and have used his name to leverage the candidacies of those who who have been unaccountable need to take two giant steps back and evaluate their complicity in giving the movement he started 2000 years ago a black eye.