With the U.S. elections on the forefront this year, political rhetoric will reach a deafening crescendo in the coming months. The field of presidential hopefuls are crisscrossing the country, facing off in televised debates, and stumping in key states. Meanwhile, in Washington, the bipartisan battle continues in committees, congressional proceedings, and executive declarations. If the divisive 2016 elections are any indication, the second half of this year will be a bare-knuckle fight.
For some, the constant stream of visionary election proclamations and dreams can create a euphoric feeling. Politicians are at their most hopeful during election season. They tell us the world can be better. They paint a picture of a more just, more successful, more hopeful society. What if it could be better? What if they are right?
For others, an election year can be discouraging and disorienting. Some politicians appeal directly to the Christian community in hopes of garnering our votes. Others directly oppose values central to our faith. History has shown that one election can shift society so that even words change their meaning and life for faithful Christians becomes more difficult. At the end of the day, election season exposes some of our inherent fears: fear of the future, fear of change, fear of lost freedom, and fear of increased persecution.
How can we, as followers of Christ, cut through the shallow rhetoric and avoid being tossed about by the coming election fever? How can we escape the onslaught of election fear? We need a better promise. We need a firmer hope.
Change will happen as we vote for godly leaders and call our nation to repentance.
The letter of Hebrews was written during a time of tremendous pressure on the young first-century church. Not only was there oppression from the Roman government, there was also opposition from the Jewish religious establishment. We can see the intensity of the persecution in Acts and, specifically, in the life of Paul. He was chased down, arrested, stoned, beaten, and kicked out of town. Because of this pressure from the political and religious majorities, some Christians were considering abandoning the faith. They were contemplating a return to the old ways of Judaism. They were pondering the promise of a "better life" without such imminent, critical cost.
So, the author of Hebrews wrote to them. He did not focus his letter on the political and social pressure the Christians were experiencing. He did not focus his letter on the shortcomings of the system to which they wanted to turn. No, the author of Hebrews appealed to them on the basis of a better promise and a firmer hope. He offered them the better prophet, priest, and King: Jesus.
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. (Hebrews 6:17-20a)
Our soul can be anchored, even in the turmoil of an election season, because our hope is not in the changing winds of political rhetoric but in the promises of the living God. Our soul is anchored because we do not have a leader who builds his own kingdom on the backs of his people but a King who carried a cross on His back for the sake of His people. Our soul is anchored because, unlike most of the people we will hear on the news over the next ten months, God does not lie! His promises are secure and therefore our hope is secure.
How are we to respond to this foundation of hope? First, we must resist the urge to place our hope in any man or party or system apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. To do so is to guarantee disappointment. Second, we must resist the urge to despair at the state of the world around us. Governments can take away our political freedoms. They can outlaw our core beliefs. They can actively oppress us as followers of Jesus. But they cannot shake our hope. And third, we must live as faithful, active citizens of this great country—refusing to stand idly by while sin abounds. Change will happen as we vote for godly leaders and call our nation to repentance. Change will happen when we first repent of our own sin instead of self-righteously pointing out the sins of others.
This election season we have the opportunity to be transformational agents in the midst of the chaotic political rhetoric. While the world runs after utopian promises of prosperity and security, we stand firm on God's secure promises of a heavenly future and a glorious hope. While the world descends into slanderous mud-slinging and endless debate, we calmly follow our rightly elected King and therefore speak words of love and life. As followers of Christ, we can rise above the chaos because the one we follow not only died for us, He also rose again to secure for us a hope no tempest can dispel.