Where Do We Go From Here?
By Michael Hidalgo
November 7, 2012
Michael is the lead pastor of Denver Community Church and lives with his wife and children in downtown Denver, Colo. His first book with InterVarsity Press, UnLost: Being Found by the One We Are Looking For, is due out in March 2014. He blogs regularly at michael-hidalgo.com. Follow him on Twitter @michaelhidalgo.
It’s the morning after the election. Some people, no doubt, woke today up with a sense of celebration, others with a sense of doom and still others just relieved the whole thing is over. Many have been bloodied and have bloodied others in the fight for their party and candidate. This morning, however, the decision has been made and there is no going back.
All of this causes me to wonder how this election season will be remembered. Will there be any regret over how we have acted? Will we wish we could take back our toxic words and nasty insults we said to someone who voted differently? Will we care about the fractured relationships that came about as a result of political differences?
As the thinking goes, all is fair is love and war—and now, it seems, politics too.
My guess is few will live with any regret. As the thinking goes, all is fair is love and war—and now, it seems, politics too. My prediction is we will carry on as usual neglecting all the things said and done in the name of politics, whether they were right or wrong.
Over the next four years the side that lost will probably blame all the problems of our country on the side that won. The side that won will, more than likely, roll their eyes at the complaints of the side that lost. The battle will continue, and the divide will only deepen. For too many, this hostility is worth it. In their minds, there is too much at stake to play nice or fair.
Over the last several months many have claimed this election will determine the march of history, that it is pivotal with regard to our children’s future and, most importantly, that it will lead America back to its Christian roots or lead us away from them. With all of this on the line we've operated under the assumption that we need to take the gloves off, and make no apologies for the results.
But what if we are mistaken? Do we really need to give so much head and heart space to the political process? Is it possible we have made far too much of this election and the role it will play in our world? What if the results of this election mean comparatively little when we consider the scope of human history?For some it's hard to think this way, because they truly believe the hope of the world rests on the future of America. They have placed the United States of America on the mantles of their hearts in the same way ancients placed idols on the mantles in their homes. With great passion, many have called the people of God to restore the "Christian roots" on which the nation was founded, and take America back for God. Pastors, leaders and politicians implored Christians to get out and vote their Christian values. For them it is necessary, not only for the hope of America, but also for the hope of the world.
Throughout this election season, biblical language was used to stir hearts, minds and emotions ultimately to gain momentum for a particular candidate, party or platform. In the end, voting for "Christian values" translates into nothing more than voting for a particular candidate, political party or legislation. It’s as though Scripture and biblical ethics have been reduced to a kickstand for partisan politics. We feel good about this because we have been seduced into thinking that an earthly government can somehow legislate the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Woven deeply into the message of taking America back for God and restoring national Christian values is the belief that America itself is the vehicle through which God will bring his renewal, restoration and redemption to this world of ours.
Which raises the question: What will happen in 400-or-so years when the United States is—more than likely—no longer a country? We must never forget America is a country that, like all countries, will one day disappear.
It’s as though Scripture and biblical ethics have been reduced to a kickstand for partisan politics.
Our great hope is that the Kingdom of Heaven will continue on with, in spite of and, eventually, without America. This reality ought to teach us that the United States is not the best hope for this world of ours, nor is it the greatest force for peace and good. Nor is the United States a nation that has a special covenant with God—it will not last forever, it has no promises of protection. America is a global, military superpower that, like many superpowers before it, often invokes the name of God and uses religion for its special interests and benefit. This blind embrace of America as the greatest hope for our world, and insistence that the United States somehow has a special covenant with God points to the trust we have put in an earthly empire—often to the exclusion of the hope filled gospel of Jesus.
The call placed on the people of God is to place their trust in him alone, and nothing else. We must never forget Kingdom citizens are called to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of Heaven and not the United States of America. And, quite frankly, we are not to hold dual allegiance. This is the sentiment stated in Psalm 20, when the Psalmist wrote, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7, NIV). Perhaps a good 21st Century American paraphrase would be, “Some trust in Democrats and some in Republicans, but we trust in the good news of the Kingdom that Jesus preached.”
It’s the morning after the election. Perhaps the best thing the people of God can do is not revel in celebration, live with a sense of doom or even express relief that the election process is over.
Maybe the best thing we can do is to kneel alongside one another—as brothers and sisters of the same family—and confess the hope and allegiance we have given to this country of ours to the exclusion of Jesus and his Kingdom. Perhaps it is time to take back our heart, mind, soul and strength that has been captured by America, and place them in the hands of God. From this place, we can then live out the next four years in America rooted in the Kingdom of God.