So the Republicans took the Senate. What’s next? The answer depends more on you and me, not them. I’ll explain.
Look, there’s no doubt if you’re on the conservative side of politics, Tuesday was a good night. If you’re on the more liberal side, it wasn’t. But whether you’re cleaning up after celebrating or drying your tears, I would urge you to remember what Chuck Colson used to say—salvation won’t come on Air Force One. Or for this particular election, let’s just say that salvation won’t ring out from the Senate Majority Leader’s gavel.
Politics matter. And to all of you who exercised your democratic right—and as Chuck said—your Christian duty to vote, I commend you. And let's remember that entering politics is a high calling for many Christians. They do the work of Christ just like any who are living out the Gospel in their day to day lives.
But we must not fall for what the French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul called “the political illusion”; the idea that our problems are mostly political ones, and so, therefore, are the solutions; that somehow we'll be able to build a New Jerusalem merely through government and politics.
Politics alone cannot solve our deepest problems. Remember, most of the time, politics is downstream from culture. Culture shapes politics, and our culture is shaped by “the cult,” that is, a society’s belief system.
As Chuck would say, when the cult is sick, the culture is sick. And that’s precisely where the Church comes in—being salt and light, influencing our society’s worldview by the way we live out our faith in our daily lives and in the public square.
What comes at us from the important cultural centers of Hollywood and Washington DC matter of course, and many Christians are called to serve in those arenas. But all of us are responsible for culture, and not just to yell at what’s thrown down on us from the top of culture. Culture is most effectively shaped from the middle, not from the top.
When it comes to religious liberty, our greatest threats will not be coming from Washington, DC, but from well-meaning, but misguided voices on school boards and civil rights commissions and in City Hall: in other words, our neighbors! People we can relate to and care for and persuade.
Poverty, prisoners, community brokenness, education problems—these things won’t be solved by another government program, but by Christians living redemptively in our own neighborhoods and our towns.
Today I want to challenge us first and foremost to look out our front windows. What skills and influence can we put to work for the Kingdom and for our neighbors?
Here are four questions that I’m challenging believers to ask as I travel about the country—and I should credit my friend Gabe Lyons, who also asked these questions at a Q conference last year:
First, what are the good things that we can protect and promote and celebrate? Christians should be for things, not just against things. We should be for truth and goodness and beauty and freedom and human dignity. Any time we can celebrate those things we need to do so.
Second, what’s missing that we can contribute? What’s not in our local communities and our own backyards that needs to be there? Take marriage, for example. It’s slowly disappearing across America as fewer and fewer people are getting married. What can we do to give marriage back to the world?
Third, what evil can we stop? Stopping evil is a necessary ingredient of loving our neighbors.
And fourth, what’s broken that we can fix and restore? It won’t take us long to find something that needs fixing in our communities. How are the children of prisoners doing? Can your church help ex-cons find a job as they seek to re-integrate into society?
So, what good can we promote, what gift can we give to our communities, what evil can we stop, and what brokenness can we mend? I dare say how we answer these questions will make a much bigger difference than what happens the next two years on Capitol Hill.
Reprinted with permission from Breakpoint.