I understand that politics is a sensitive subject. I understand that where you have two people having a political discussion you will always have at least three opinions. I understand that some people don’t even like to talk about political issues because of the incendiary nature of them. But what compels me to continue bringing political things up in my conversations and in my writing is the simple fact that to ignore the politics in our nation, for the moment, is to ignore life. We’ve been inundated with advertisements, smear campaigns, news reports, articles, and phone calls for months, and now that the ball has officially dropped and we are sitting in the wake of this enormous political machine (as a whole, not one party or another), it is impossible for me not to talk about it. To a certain degree, in this politically permeated landscape, we aren’t dealing with the elephant in the room we are dealing with life inside the elephant. To say that we can extract ourselves completely and be perfectly objective is foolish and myopic.
And so, though all the votes won’t officially be counted for a while longer, we know that the new president is the old president. The new controlling forces in the Congress are the old controlling forces in the Congress. The new praise will sound like the old praise, and the new complaints will sound like the old complaints. And no matter which side of the aisle you line up on, and to be sure it is a wide aisle and one that is almost split down the very center of our nation, no matter who you agree or disagree with, the reality is that we have gotten exactly what we deserve. We cast our votes, we expressed our opinions, we chose our horse and because Democracy is what Democracy is, we have a winner. Nearly half of us are thrilled about that winner and nearly half are not, but two words govern our process that either strike fear, loathing, or joy into the heart of the electorate: simple majority.
We decided, and we received.
It was with this in my mind and heart that was reading this morning from 2 Timothy, and a passage that always, without fail, captures my attention took on fresh perspective. Paul, speaking to a younger disciple and friend, perhaps to give him direction in dealing with the church Tim was at or maybe to give him personal encouragement offers this beautiful passage:
The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV
No matter if you believe that our President’s policies are going to be the death of us or the doorway to prosperity the truth is that we are getting what we’ve chosen. We have, as a nation, made a decision. The only way you can wriggle out of this reality is to become some sort of sectarian, abdicating your civic responsibility and crippling the very form of government you hold so dearly to. We get what we deserve, every time.
But, this is not so in God’s economy. Paul begins with statements that make sense to our pragmatic minds, “give and you will get, try and you will gain, fail and you will lose”, but that isn’t all he says. In one of the most non-Democratic verses in all of the Bible Paul, beautifully, says, “if you are faithless God is faithful”. Can this really be right? Isn’t that too good to be true? We can be less than what we are supposed to be and still we are blessed and kept and loved.
Why are we the recipients of this divine beneficence? Paul says, simply, because God is who He is and that doesn’t change or alter depending on who He is dealing with at the moment. He is constant and trustworthy no matter what we are. The freedom that this implies for us is a little frightening, but the Scriptures are clear that it is only in this environment of freedom that love and relationship can be fostered with the kind of intimacy that God desires.
So, what do we do the “morning after”? As Americans we will get what we deserve, for better or for worse. But for those who have been to the Cross we are not Americans first, we are people of “The Way”. We follow Jesus before Caesar, before kings, before Presidents, and before Governors. This means that before we ever “get what we deserve” from our government, we get what we don’t deserve from our Lord. This in turn means that we must be committed to propagating an attitude that gives to others in undeserving ways. This might mean that we patiently give the new President a chance (if we voted for the other guy) or we give a new ear to those of differing opinions. What it most certainly means is that we always stand at the ready to offer grace, mercy, and the light of the Gospel to those who don’t deserve it, because God offered it to us when we didn’t.
How much different would our nation, and the world, look if the followers of Christ determined to change the balance of status quo, stopped yelling at those we disagree with, stopped condemning those we believe to be completely wrong, and started doling out what “they don’t deserve”? How would the landscape of our land change if we showed people that you don’t always get what you pay for, some things are about the Giver and not the getter.