This past week was the first US presidential debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Without a doubt, what's going on in the US right now has a lot of us scratching our heads, but the debate was actually quite instructive and there's a lot from it that we can learn about how we engage with people as Christians and as a church body.
Hilary Clinton has been accused by a number of people of being too prepared for the debate. I found the reactions to her preparedness really funny, especially from an American public who are quite intentional at being prepared for anything and everything, whether it's sports related or the end of the world related!
Being prepared is something we should value and it's something that we Christians are sometimes not good at. It says in 1 Peter 3:15-16:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
It's not that we need to be prepared, we should be prepared! And we should reward those who have prepared instead of holding it in contempt. Oh and by the way, just because we are prepared doesn't justify us to be smug about it. Peter makes sure in the above verse that we need to be both gentle and respectful! Something that both candidates could have used a bit of!
I know this is going to sound weird but I felt Donald Trump was much more real. He's not polished. He's not part of the political system. He's not politically correct. That's why he has such a strong following. People are getting feed up with the polished political talk. The US political system has let them down for too long. They want the "what you see is what you get" package, even if it means dealing with the devil!
Does that sound familiar for the Church?
People are getting fed up with the Church in general because they just don't see much that is real about it. They are tired of being spoken down to. They are tired of the polished Christian talk. Everything is not rosy. Everything is not perfect. Is the Church really different from the world? Are we really about love and community? Why aren't we being honest about our struggles? Why aren't we sharing that there are times we doubt God? Does God really love me just as I am, because it doesn't seem the Church does!
Jesus cried. Jesus partied. Jesus loved unequivocally. Jesus was real. What you saw was what you got.
Of course, that doesn't mean we can just say what we want. Racism, inciting hatred, and marginalising and minimising people (regardless of gender, race, social or immigration status, or religion) is not being real. It's being a jerk.
Who Do You Really Trust?
This election is definitely bringing out the worst in us. I've read things from Christians that just make me cringe. Their arguments for or against a candidate is vicious and personal. I don't really want to talk into that, though there is a lot I could say. I want to focus on one thing that has come out of this presidential debate. Who do you really trust?
I've heard from too many Christians that it would be irresponsible for us not to vote. I have real problem with that!
For the first 300 years in the life of the Church voting wasn't even an option! And yet, not only did the Church survive, it thrived! And all those doomsayers that say how bad Obama is. How he is ruining the country or the world! How about having Nero or Domitian as your emperor and not having a choice about it!!??
That's not to say we shouldn't vote. That's not the point I'm trying to make here. The question you have to wrestle with as a Christian is, where do your loyalties lie? It's the crossroads American Christianity is at now! American and Christian are not synonyms anymore. Are you first American, then Christian, or is it as it should be, Christian then American? That's the challenge not just for Americans. It's for all of us.
How am I bringing glory to God by voting for this candidate? And if there is no glory for God, then you should stand apart. That in itself is a vote!
There is no such thing as the lesser of two evils, nor can you use the argument of voting along party lines. It was your party that put forward that candidate. It should tell you a lot about the state of your party! If neither of them honour God, then you should in no way be a party to it.
Who do you really trust?