Most of my information on the 2016 U.S. presidential election comes from my spam file, and I keep up with events in the two minutes it takes me to clear the detritus each day. One recent headline brayed,
“Christian Evangelical Voting Bloc crucial to election results!”
Really? Click. Delete. Onto another ad for Viagra, or SEO enhancement. It all starts to sound the same. Pumped up.
Media propaganda aside, I wonder,
“Does the average person who calls himself or herself a Christian — basing this belief upon church attendance, a propensity to write checks to prominent faces, and a trust in Fox or Christian ‘news’ sites for valid information — truly believe that the way they make a difference in society is to cast one pathetic vote for a solitary human being who doesn’t possess the remotest idea of, or concern for, their existence?”
The early Christians, the ones we say we’re all trying to emulate when we gather together in small groups to read and discuss Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, didn’t have a lot of bloc-voting influence in their societies, and while one certainly doesn’t envy their vulnerability to attack from government and religious officials, one can appreciate and admire their freedom from the celebrity Christian circus arena: their mountebanks operated in smaller spheres, and televangelism and major “Christian” book publishers hadn’t been invented yet.
Presidents, Emperors, and Kings
Political leaders didn’t bother pretending to care what Christians, or any other group of ordinary humans, thought, and ordinary people possessed enough common sense — or hard-earned experience — to realize that there was a significant gap between the rulers and the ruled. (Jesus mentioned this; see Matthew 20:25.) The power of Christians did not derive from movement leaders who agitated the pack into supporting this human or that, pressuring them to send money to Evangelist Speaker A because he tells the world about Christ (far better than we can), or to support the candidacy of a politician who, because of his deep, sincere, and tactfully expressed faith, will single-handedly bring our nation back to its days of glory, greatness, and belief in God.
The power of Christians derived from — then, as it does today — Christ.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?” Christ spoke to His followers in Matthew 5:13. “It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.”
What is our saltiness, as Christians?
Salt, by its nature, is a powerful seasoning, and it doesn’t take much of it to flavor, preserve, and enhance. It also dissolves, and any huge clumps of it in the stew cause the taster to recoil. Yet we are told that our power comes through operating as a monolithic, group entity with no individual expression or dissent: boycott this, protest that, pool your funds to pay one man to promise to do the work of all, vote unanimously to “prove” the rightness of the decision, join the group and do what the leader says. When we fall for this line, at best, we are a lobbying power; at worst, we are dupes allowing our voice to be controlled by others. This latter happens often when we follow another voice — from the pulpit or behind a “news” desk — which works us into such a state of impotent anger and fear that we figure the only way we can get anything done, is to obey our superiors.
In Christ’s name, of course.
We Are Family, Not Employees
Christians are a family, not a corporation; we are part of a body, not a voting bloc; we operate as unique human beings who are individuals, so individual that our Father knows the number of hairs on each of our heads. Our impact comes through loving one another as Christ loves us, and quite often, these acts look very small and insignificant, but not to the people toward whom we direct our love.
When we buy a winter coat for a child, we make a difference in the life of that child (by the way, we can do this without participating in a program). When we meet a friend for coffee and listen, truly listen, to the pain about which she is talking, we make a difference in the life of our friend. When we hear about a family’s trouble with their oldest teenager and do nothing more than stop the thought, “Well, they have such a loose parenting style,” we at least have not contributed to their anguish.
Yes, these are small things, unexciting things, things so well within our capacity to perform that we don’t see the value of doing them. But if we did do them (Love our neighbor as ourselves) in conjunction with talking with our Father on a regular basis (Love the Lord God with all our heart), we would find ourselves making an impact, simply by virtue of living according to radically different standards.
Rather than give our money and time and energy to a cause, an organization, an institution promising us “buying power” through the collectivist assemblage of our voices, we can wisely direct our resources toward small, ordinary arenas — impacting individual lives which don’t show up anywhere in the corporate-sized “non-profit” charities, mandatory-contributed-to government programs, or billionaire philanthropists’ lists.
But those individual lives show up, and matter, in our lives. When we take our time and our dollar (or $5, or $25, that only matters to a major organization because it is combined with thousands of other little bits) and direct it toward another human being whom God has put into our lives, then we make a difference that actually makes a difference.
Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I encourage individual, ordinary people to stop looking to others — mega-pastors, Christian celebrities, financiers, politicians — to solve the world’s issues. They’re sort of the source of it all, you know?
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