As much as I have tried to avoid the 2016 presidential preliminaries, my attempts have been futile. Perhaps I am drawn to politics as a moth is drawn to the flame or perhaps the fumes have so permeated the cultural air that inhaling is unavoidable.
But as news of Trump’s immigration policies and Hillary’s finger-wagging at Black Lives Matter protesters have wafted through the air–not to mention another horribly agonizing gotcha video about Planned Parenthood–my perennial question popped: “Are these the only options we have?”
The answer, sadly, is yes. The 17 Republican nominees and 5 Democratic nominees comprise the field of viable options we will have for our next president. But what if we asked another question: “Must one of these candidates define my beliefs about what a world put right should look like?” Then the answer is a definitive “No.”
That “No” resonates strongly in my heart and mind by way of a “No” spoken millennia ago. Joshua, preparing to take Jericho, encounters a heavenly man with sword drawn. He asks, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” and the man replies, “No.” More fully, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD” (Joshua 5:14).
Perhaps his answer should inform how we approach the political categories we are handed. When asked, “Are you Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, traditional or progressive?” perhaps our immediate, simple answer should be “No.”
My proposal is that we begin building a political platform of our own conviction with biblical planks. Without cherry-picking the verses that address our pet issues, let us start from the beginning–with the God who created the heavens and the earth–and see what kind of world he envisioned for our first parents in the Garden of Eden. Let us read through the Law he gave Israel to see the dominant ethical and economic policies. Let us read the Prophets to see which infractions seemed to rouse God’s anger the most. Let us read the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles to hear the emphases of their moral charges to church and society. Let us read John’s Revelation about the type of New Creation God will bring about.
In doing so, we will encounter God’s hatred of bribes and love for society’s most vulnerable–especially the fatherless, widow, and immigrant. We will learn much about the use of power and the responsibility of possessing wealth. We will see the myriad ramifications of valuing humans of all ages, ethnicities, and gender as those created in God’s image.
So I challenge you to be proactive. Immerse yourself in God’s word and ask him what his priorities are for our day. I have no delusions that this will lead to change in Washington or political harmony. But Washington is not our ultimate government and America is not our ultimate home. Let us ask our King how he would have us live in this world, and let us take action under his authority even as we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”