I’ve heard lot of Christians talk about the aftermath of the US elections using the phrase “what to do when your guy loses”. After any election one side licks its wounds while the other celebrates and it is understandable that people feel a very real pain when their preference is rejected and they feel they are living to the vision of someone else. However, I’m not sure that talking about temporal political leaders as “my guy” is really thoughtful language for Christians.
American elections are about more than who is going to sit in the Oval office for a term. They are about maintaining empire, global power, rising prosperity and a whole slew of things that the population believes it deserves by right. They are about fears of being poor, about others getting what they don’t deserve at my expense, about the world being a dangerous and immoral place that needs a strong presidential hand to sort it all out.
But before we declare our affection for “our guy” based on on earthly motives, perhaps we would better judge him against what God wants for his creation and for the establishment of his kingdom. To do that we need to set aside our agenda for the world and our wellbeing and discover what we can learn about God’s agenda.
If we think the poor are a burden and need to sort themselves out, what is God’s policy? Well, scripture talks a lot about widows and orphans which is shorthand for the most vulnerable people in society, the ones who have no one to look after them. They are always the king’s first priority (see Psalm 72).
If we think that we can project power as a matter of right so that we can control world events, be mindful of other empires God has used as disposable means to further his plans. Isaiah 7:20 has Israel being told
In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—to shave your head and private parts, and to cut off your beard also.
If we think that communally addressing the wellbeing of citizens as a form of socialism, we might turn to Leviticus and rediscover the Jubilee of which God was serious about establishing and humans were serious about rejecting. The earliest Christian communities held all things in common for the benefit of all. That failed too, not because it was wrong but because it was too hard.
If we think that morality is about what we can or cannot do in God’s eyes, we discover from scripture that morality in the Kingdom of God starts with justice, love and peace. That is the seed bed of all other morality and rules for living.
If we think that our purpose in life is to be rich and powerful then we need to listen to Mary’s song (the Magnificat in Luke) and be reminded that the rich are sent away empty from the kingdom and the whole system is turned upside down.
My guy is the one who I am proud to believe would not be touched by major parties because of his liberalism, peacemaking, scepticism of wealth, scepticism of domination and who has an unfortunate liking for the poor, the disabled, the outsiders and the morally suspect. The one who says to leave the Democrats and Republicans to their superpacs and come and follow and learn something in his wake. He is the one who defies our expectations whether we are liberal or conservative because is interest is not in policy but in reconciling God’s creation with its creator and assuring humanity of the blessings of that restored relationship.
Really, how can you make an attack ad from that?