Sometimes we’re fed this lie: “The best way for a Christian to effect change is to vote.”
Every four years around this time, we’re made to believe that our primary duty as Christians is to go out and vote.
Millions of dollars and thousands of hours are dedicated in this national, organized effort to mobilize millions of churchgoers to vote for a specific party.
The emphasis of this PR campaign, the speakers, the talk show guests, the websites and the radio programs is on transactional change (also called legislative change: “Vote this way!”), as opposed to transformational change (love in relationships: “I love you! Can I help you in some way?”)
Jesus made it clear that there’s only one way to effect the kind of change that results in a lost world glorifying our Father.
He said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew, 5:16 NKJV).
But you’ll more often hear politicians and national church leaders say things like, “Kids are shooting each other in schools these days because they took The Ten Commandments off the wall, and now they’re trying to remove ‘under God’ from the Pledge.”
And that’s easy for us to swallow.
Because then we can blame it on the liberal media, blame it on the dirty ACLU, blame it on the rich lawyers, blame it on the out-of-touch judges, blame it on the lazy Christians who didn’t vote.
The question becomes: Do we really believe God is removed from our schools when we take down cartoon posters of The Ten Commandments? Do we really believe God lives in a repetitive pledge kids say to the flag?
Does God live in posters and pledges, or does He live in us?
Maybe we remove God from our schools when we cease to mentor kids with no dads. Maybe we remove God from our schools when we, as Christian teachers and Christian students, retreat to safe, polished private schools. Just maybe, we remove God from our schools when Christian parents quit PTA boards.
When a kid brings a gun to school and shoots someone, the question shouldn’t be, “Where was The Ten Commandments poster?”
Rather, the question should be, “Where was the Christian?”
Does this mean we shouldn’t vote on such issues? Of course not. It just means we must live out the very issues we’re so loud about.
If we care so much about students in our schools, then we must integrate the love of Jesus there. This is what salt tastes like.
If we care so much about unborn babies, we must be willing to adopt the ones who are actually born instead of being aborted. This is what light looks like.
If we care so much about the sanctity of marriage, we must stay married. This is when things start making sense.
Until then, we risk offering our neighbors offensive noise, unnecessary rhetoric, clanging cymbals and political hyperbole. The alternative is a holy one: Being salt, being light.
Matthew 5:13-16 says, You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
It seems like Jesus always put the emphasis on the transformational kind of change. Which, of course, is way harder than the transactional kind.
After all, voting is way easier than loving.
When someone tries to convince me that the best way to effect lasting change is to change legislation and influence important politicians, I simply ask, “Why didn’t Jesus think of that?”
Instead of going to Rome, instead of performing miracles in front of Caesar, instead of running for office, Jesus chose 12 fishermen and taught them how to love well.
And the same love that changed everything a few thousand years ago still remains the best way to change the heart of an angry, bitter kid with a hand gun regardless of America’s laws on posters and pledges.
Bob Denison is the president of Denison Yacht Sales. When he’s not selling boats, he’s spending time with the homeless in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.