Sunday, August 31, 2008

Avoiding Messianic Expectations

Perhaps I'm a little late to the proverbial punch in waiting this long before commenting on Obama's DNC speech, but the more I have reflected on it, the more I figured I had at least one brief thought worth sharing. That one thought, put simply, is this: Christians must resist the temptation to put their faith in either presidential candidate as the solution to all of America's problems.

I hope McCain wins this race, and if he does not, I will be disappointed. That said, if Obama wins America will go on. It will go on while still having many problems, but it will go on. If McCain wins, America will go on. It will go onw hile still having many problems, but it will go on. I prefer the latter, but America will go on.

And I don't shout that triumphantly, like some kind of nationalistic rally cry. I say it as a kingdom-centered recognition of the way the world actually works. No matter who wins, God will still be sovereign, humans will still be sinful, and Christ's blood will still be my only plea as fundamentally a citizen of the Kingdom of God.

We Christians must face the reality that America's problems are the result of human sinfulness. No president will eliminate that problem, but at best will manage to limit the physical consequences of human sin. So for example, a good government will get more food to the poor than a bad one (however that actually happens best, which is up for debate).

But at the DNC, Obama-supporters (and maybe Obama himself) seemed to be hoping for so much more. Maybe that is one of the main reasons I am so turned off by some of his support. It is not that Obama seems to be a bad guy or even insincere. But as I watched thousands of people surrounding this man as he spoke, I couldn't help but think that most were thinking, "Here, finally, is the man that will lead us to the promised land of American life." And this attitude sickens and saddens me.

Whatever change Obama can deliver on, he cannot change a human heart. Neither can McCain. And that's why as Christians we should never put too much faith in any world power. As many have started to notice in modern Christianity, the only sovereign who can change things in truly meaningful ways is God Himself. Compared to His work, the president's is microscopically important. The Messiah already came and still lives. He rules the world with infinite grace, love, and wisdom. And He is the One in whom I will put my faith.

(NB: I'm not saying you shouldn't vote or be involved in the political process. I'm just saying that you should always check your expectations when you do it. And I don't say that in a cynical way- just in a way that is centered on the sovereignty of God.)

1 comment:

Eric S. Mueller said...

I agree. I've been trying to make a similar point all along. I know many people who seem to treat the Presidential elections as if we're choosing a Messiah. Elect the right man and he'll save us all. Elect the wrong man, and he'll ruin the country and make 1984 look like memoirs of a vacation resort.

Kingdom implications aside, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way our government is supposed to operate. The people that I know who get the most worked up over a Presidential election have never written to their Congressman or Senators. I try to explain to people with this Presidential Messiah mindset that we do have three branches of government and you can participate in our political process in other ways than driving with an Obama or McCain bumper sticker and starting fights at the water cooler over which man will save or destroy our Republic. I normally get a blank stare at the mention of "republic." I sometimes think I'm the only person who knows that tidbit.

In any case, I appreciate your post. God Bless.