Can’t we be good citizens without placing all our hope in political solutions? If you are my friend, won’t you let me be clear about where my hope really is?
From time to time, we all get sucked into conversations of which we would rather not be a part. Maybe it is about politics, or maybe it is about some pressing social issue like gun control or abortion or same-sex marriage or racism. And maybe the reason we don’t want to jump into the conversation is that, frankly, we don’t have any level of expertise or special knowledge in that area and therefore have little or nothing to add to the level of discourse. And, by the way, wouldn’t it be nice if more people knew that about themselves? 🙂 Or maybe the reason we don’t want to add to the noise of the conversation is that nobody involved in it really seems to be listening at all. Or maybe you have your own reasons for picking and choosing carefully when to join a conversation and when to stay out.
Whatever your circumstances, there is one very good reason to be careful about these conversations with the family and friends who matter most to you. In relationships that really matter to us, it is important to be clear about where our hope is. And many of these “heated” topics of conversation quickly devolve into a level of debate which may well mislead someone as to where our hope really lies.
Let me give a specific example from my own life. I have some pretty clear feelings about abortion. They stem from some pretty clear feelings about precisely when “personhood” attaches to biological life. And, yes, I would favor laws which agree with my worldview in that regard. However, let me be very clear about this: my hope for the unborn is not in those laws, nor in the political systems which create them nor in the Courts which uphold them. Ultimately, my hope for the unborn is in who God is, what God does, who we are, and what we should do in response to God. So, I am hesitant to jump with both feet into political debates over the issue if there is a chance it will mislead you as to where my hope lies. Oh, I will vote. And I will no doubt favor candidates who share my worldview. But, my hope in politics to heal our land is a little like my hope in band-aids to revolutionize the world’s emergency rooms. So, you’ll understand if I don’t want to spend hours upon hours filling Facebook comments on the political solutions to this problem.
There’s a great story in the Bible that illustrates what I am saying here. In 1 Samuel, the nation of Israel has been spiraling downward and away from God for centuries. They have suffered invasion after invasion by neighboring enemy nations. They are looking for solutions. And they are looking in the wrong place. They decide their solution is to have a king, just like all their neighboring enemies have. The thinking is, “If we only had a king who would go and fight our battles for us, we would be safe from our enemies.” Their hope, it seemed, was in a political, governmental solution. Their hope was NOT in God. So, speaking through the prophet, Samuel, here is what God said:
“I brought Israel up out of Egypt. I delivered you from Egyptian oppression—yes, from all the bullying governments that made your life miserable. And now you want nothing to do with your God, the very God who has a history of getting you out of troubles of all sorts. And now you say, ‘No! We want a king; give us a king!’ Well, if that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get!” 1 Samuel 10:18-19 (The Message paraphrase)
Their hope was misplaced. I never want my hope to be misplaced. And I never want to lead any of my friends or family to believe that my hope is in the manmade solutions of politics. I have come to understand that conversations about where our hope really lies are among the most important conversations in our life. They are the conversations that nurture the deepest and most meaningful relationships life has to offer. They are the conversations we want to get right.