I’ve been following the presidential race with keen interest. If I allow myself (which sometimes I do), I could waste a lot of time on RealClearPolitics.com.
But you don’t have to be a political buff—or cynic—to realize that there are serious problems in our society, that they’re getting worse, and that the divisions over how to address those problems are growing deeper.
The outlines of two highly different views of what America is, what America should be, and what path America should take keep coming into clearer focus and sharper conflict. On the one side (remember my admission of generalizing and oversimplifying) are Democrats and liberals who believe that our country’s long-term best interests will be served through a collectivist approach to society and government. On the other side are Republicans and conservatives who believe rather that an individualist approach must be pursued. The two sides seem to be entrenching themselves all the more firmly, and each side’s villainizing of the other grows ever louder.
In my opinion this polarization will continue, for neither approach is able to solve the problems our country faces. Neither side’s view of society and government will be able to produce real and lasting change. If it could, we wouldn’t need Jesus Christ. Only his shoulders are big enough (Isa. 9:6) to support a government that is truly just, wise, prosperous, and enduring.
That is something Christ’s church must remember during an election year. And that is where the local churches of the NCD have an opportunity to shine during this election year—and beyond. As the focused expression of Christ’s reign in this world, the church can exhibit the attractive beauty of the Kingdom in the midst of the frustrated attempts by the world’s political systems to bring about a better world.
For example, here’s one glimpse we can give to a watching world (or a ray of light that will prompt the world to begin watching): Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need (Eph. 4:28 NIV). Here, in one beautiful stroke, Christ shapes his church into what the world longs for:
- Personal industry instead of sloth (so the conservatives can cheer)
- Genuine provision for the needy (so the liberals can cheer)
- Individual and collective responsibility blending to create something beautiful
How does this happen? What makes it work? God has created, in the church, a new humanity (the wider context of this verse). In this new humanity the old is put off and the new is put on. God does the inner heart work, through Christ, to create a wonderful new community of new individuals. The King shines through his subjects.
Ultimately, I suppose, in one way or another, all political aspirations and protestations express a desire for a new community, a new world, a new humanity. God has already created it. It’s there for the world to see if we exhibit it. In this election year, and the next, will we?