November 7th, we will wake up to front pages declaring with finality the results of the American Presidential Election. Most of us will see these headlines and have some sort of emotional reaction (especially those of us that stayed up as late as we could to know the results early).
Depression? Fear? Anger? Injustice? Sadness? Joy? Elation? Ecstasy? Worship? Peace?
I remember after the 2004 election when Bush beat Kerry. Going to a large, urban University dominated by idealistic and passionate liberal youth, the campus was in mourning for the rest of that week. People walked in silence, hugged one another, and I saw a good number of people crying as they resigned themselves to what they felt would be the end of every good thing they’d ever thought about this country.
This election cycle, I was certainly active–probably more so than ever before (especially on this blog, at least). I’m almost certain that I have been blocked from my fair share of Facebook feeds and removed from some feed readers in the past six months or so. I’ve been quite passionate on those few issues that have guided so much of my writing and reading.
But I haven’t lost a bit of sleep over any of that stuff. I’ve been able to enjoy good books and beers, and pipes and peers, without any discussion of politics or debates or elections.
There is a great political advantage to having Christianity as your primary worldview and filter through which you interpret everything else–even politics. The advantage is paradoxical, to be sure, but it’s right there in the middle of the angst and tension that Truth comes smiling and offering us Rest. The paradox is this:
Christianity tells us that our political efforts and cries for justice are heard and are effectual; but even when they’re not, it’s okay.
We can annoy our friends on Facebook and fill our empty pint glasses with the echoes of rising voices because we have a hope that everything we seek to accomplish through our political structures can and will be brought about into this world. It is this deep knowledge that drives us to fight to see Future Truth become Present Reality.
Where Truth does not meet Reality, we cry out.
Yes, we do this because we know it is attainable and it will be seen and known and tasted on this earth by every person of every social strata.
But it’s not. And we’re still okay. We can breathe. We can live.
Yes, in the World To Come these things will be here, but even now we only fight for breadcrumbs. We spy our way into the Promised Land, just to bring a meager grape, a drop of milk, or a taste of honey to our hungry and dying brothers and sisters back in the desert.
At its best this is what politics can offer us: Breadcrumbs. Grapes. Milk. Honey.
But this is not true sustaining. It is not Life. It is not Hope. It is not Rest.
Instead we cling to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. The one who guides the heart of every ruler. The One who out-sovereigns every sovereign. We hold fast to the truth that history’s souls have found themselves able to flourish in every single conceivable sort of political system this world could conjure, no matter how Conservative or Liberal it was.
In other words, Christian souls have been able to live to the fullest and with joy even when there were no breadcrumbs, no grapes, no milk or honey–only desert. Only drought. Only death. Only political failure, oppression, and injustice.
And that’s because Reality has been restoringly fractured–turned up-right-side-down–by Another. One who left Heaven and deprived himself of the bread, wine, and honey–that place where the “politics” of existence always moved in accordance to his design. He came and had no political ambitions though people tried to thrust them on him, and he was instead consumed and destroyed by the very power structures of which people wanted him to take advantage. And then he stood up underneath their weight:
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
(Remember, Advent is coming.)
Whether your political desires are seen or known in a few weeks, I don’t know. But may you know that there is life, hope, rest, humility, and peace available to you whether you are rendering to Caesar exactly how much you think is his, or whether he is crucifying you on a Cross.
[image credit: Untitled piece by Arielle Passenti. Read my review of this piece.]