“A chance to save our republic.” That’s a sentiment that I heard expressed by coworkers, a phrase I saw written repeatedly on social media posts, and a call to action I heard echoed by multiple celebrities in the days leading up to this week’s midterm election day.
Unsurprisingly, November 6th was held out by many as, “the most important election of our lifetime.” Wait two years and you’ll hear that phrase again. And then another two years, and another, and another. It’s not that I disagree with highlighting the significance of our public policy debates; I have spent my adult life talking about cultural, social, and political issues that impact our daily lives.
But forgive me for being cynical about the prospect that what Americans do at the ballot box has any possibility of saving the republic. Preserve it a bit longer? Drag out the inevitable collapse amidst our sins of excess? Yes, a smart electoral strategy might accomplish that. But save the republic? Not a chance.
The reason is fairly straight forward, even if unpopular and unmentioned in pop culture. What ails us is not a structural flaw in our system, it’s a structural flaw in our people. We are an overfed, privileged, self-absorbed, sinful people.
Clearly, the political climate is where those facts are most evident and easily proved. We choose self-serving narcissists to lead us because we ourselves are self-serving narcissists. We offer fealty and loyalty to political tribes that results in confusing phenomena like seeing the same men who willingly preach character from their lips simultaneously casting votes for dead pimps because they see a financial benefit in it.
This is all the sin nature of man evincing itself in real time. And as godliness gives way to pragmatism in our modern era, it leaves a population desperately craving deliverance. And that’s why I’ve never been so convinced that now is the perfect time for Christians to step forward with a hope that transcends all of this bitterness, infighting, division, and discord. There is nothing more appealing after all, than the unity that is found in Christ. As Tim Challies celebrates:
“What has God done? He’s taken us from division, all the way to unity and He’s done it all through the Lord Jesus Christ.”
That unity helps us to see and admit that while a Christian may hold conservative political views, conservativism itself is not Christianity. It helps us see and admit that while liberals may indeed love their fellow man, leftism itself is not love. It helps liberates an us to embrace a new way recently summarized by Samuel Sey:
Do not hope like the world. So long as it depends on you, be at peace with all.
Imagine a Kingdom that operated on such premises.
Imagine a Kingdom where men were motivated to sacrifice self for the interests of others – others that they consider their brothers and sisters.
Imagine a Kingdom whose Ruler was perfectly just and perfectly merciful.
Imagine a Kingdom where all needs are met, and the lowliest subject is privileged as an heir to the Kingdom itself.
As Christians we know such a Kingdom exists. May the same God who, “changes times and seasons, deposes kings and raises up others, gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning,” forgive us for too often being so preoccupied and obsessed with the trappings of earthly power that we fail to entice others to join us.
And then let’s get to work.