My answer is yes, but only to a certain degree. Christians ought to be involved in politics. We are responsible to be salt and light on this earth (Matthew 5:13-16) and indeed in the political arena. But our hope must never be in the potential political changes we can make, even those that might make America more Christian.
Evangelicals have been very good about trying to make an impact in American politics. The so-called Moral Majority is evidence of this. But if we think that Christian values being signed into law is the straightest path to a Christian nation, we are mistaken. When we make electing a candidate or reversing a law our end goal, we put our hope in things temporal. We have forgotten who has the real ability to change America—and more importantly, Americans.
The President is Powerful, but He’s No Jesus.
In every election since I have been old enough to be aware, I have seen incredible amounts of power projected onto presidential candidates. It seems that every four years there is a candidate that has the ability to fix America and one who will destroy it. But no candidate has ever had such power. I am certainly not suggesting that we be apathetic to who is elected president. I exercise my right to vote. I’m merely suggesting that we realize that we are voting for sinners just like us. The best hope for America will never be elected.
Roman emperors were often looked at as saviors. Some of them even thought of themselves as such. But the thing about Caesar is that he died. In fact, all of them died. But there has been one king who continues to live and his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Just like Caesars, presidents are temporary. Our government is temporary. This world is passing away. It’s time we recognize who has the real power.
In his Revelation, John is writing to Christians in a place and time where putting hope in a politician was much easier than putting hope in Christ. After all, these are the folks with the real, visible power. But John describes to them the throne on which God sits. And at the end of his account of what he has seen, John makes it clear that Jesus is our real hope. Emperors and presidents make mistakes, they fail, and they fall. But Jesus wins in the end, and His servants “reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). If we want victory in America, it only comes through Jesus.
The Straightest Path to a Christian Nation
The old way of doing things is over. As Russell Moore has pointed out, we are no longer the moral majority. It is time to return to the original way of doing things for Christians. That is spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.
In the past, American Christians have depended on Washington to do what is right. We urge and implore our government to end abortion, define marriage correctly, take care of the vulnerable, etc., and rightly so. We ought to continue to fight, politically, for those changes. But we must remember that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, not a bill passed by the senate. If we want to see real change in our country, we must look to the Holy Spirit to change the hearts of its people. If we want America to be Christian, we need to make Americans Christians.
Rather than putting our hope on a political platform, let us put our hope in the Great Commission. The Church on mission is the best and most effective way to change America because the best way to change America is to change Americans. The government can make a huge difference, but only the Church can make an eternal difference.
What Will Happen This Election?
Just like every election before it, this election will get ugly. There will be Americans everywhere putting false hope in one candidate and claiming the other is the Anti-Christ. And Christians will be among them. Instead of filling our nation with salt and light, candidates and their supporters will make this country very dark and covered in mud. And Christians will be among them. My prayer is that you will not be. My prayer is that Christians all around the country will be putting their hope in Jesus and in His ability to change the lives of people.
Jesus is America’s only hope. We, as individuals and as a country, are in desperate need of His love. This election let America see a church that is ready to put their hope in Jesus, not a presidential candidate. Let Americans everywhere see that we are not looking to a politician to save us, but a King whose term never ends. Lord, help us look to You.