"Are you better off than you were four years ago?" In today's vicious, gutter-level political arena, this question, used to great effect by a campaign barely two decades ago, seems harmless. It wasn't; it isn't.
Now Christians are encouraged to imagine what effect a candidate may have on their jobs, their security and their quality of life. In other words, instead of voting on what will advance the Kingdom of God, more and more Christians are voting based on what makes them feel safe, secure and prosperous.
We've forgotten, or we pretend to forget: There is no such thing as a guarantee of safety, success or even provision, regardless of who on earth is in charge.
This ability to make Christians dwell on self doesn't just open the door to politicians playing to our deepest fears, it sucks us into their circle, making us not only hearers of their dark diatribes, but sellers and spinners of it as well.
In this way, the ambassadors of hope are removed from the equation; the front lines of service and sacrifice are abandoned, and the character of Christ ceases to be front and center in the public face of the Body of Christ.
We who are rescued from our own destructive sinfulness should be bursting with energy to share the hope that makes it possible for us to face total loss and start over. When we encounter Jesus Christ as Savior, we are called to live the rest of our earthly days in service to something, anything, EVERYthing bigger than self. We're to walk the second mile, offer up our only coat, pray for those who use us, all while measuring our sacrifice against that of Jesus', and thereby remaining meek, humble, grateful and increasingly compassionate.
As we struggle to the finish line of a disturbing election season, we who have met Jesus must have our souls turned inside-out again, so that everyone--be they democrat or republican, native or immigrant, weak or powerful--becomes someone whose sight of the face of Jesus is more important to us than our own circumstances.
We can start, right here, right now, by reading Jesus' own words in the Beatitudes, where He lays out clearly who He wants us to be until He takes us home with Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to refresh these words in you, and then show you how to give them life by becoming their lived-out version.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:1-15