Letting Go of the American Dream

“The nation is falling, the nation is falling!” So cries the Chicken Little political prophets every four years. On both sides of the aisle, they preach apocalyptic doom if the OTHER candidate is elected.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the nation is shaken every time there is a regime change. But why is the Church of the living God shaking? Have we no stronger foundation than they? Have we not a greater hope? Are we so fearful and faithless that we tremble at the terrible predictions of the political prophets? Have we no prophets of our own? Is the Word of God no longer a sufficient source of wisdom, hope, and promise? It would seem it isn’t for the vast majority of Christians – at least not around election time.

I have struggled in this most recent season to understand why so many Christians are so troubled by all that they see and hear on the political stage. At various times I have made statements to various people that we ought not to worry about the outcome of the election, since no matter what, our King and His Kingdom remain unshaken, unmoved, and undisturbed. A few times, this reminder has caused a peace to settle on the discussion, but more often, I have met with looks of confusion or scorn. I am viewed as hopelessly naïve, not realizing the extreme danger of the times. As I’ve pondered why such fear has gripped the Church, I have been able to come to only one conclusion: they are desperately clinging to the American Dream.

They are fearful for the future of their country. They worry that the outcome of the present election will indelibly change their nation for the worse. They are concerned for what their children and grandchildren will have to endure if the other one gets elected. They worry that the freedoms and prosperity which we now enjoy will disappear. All of this may be true, but so what?

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Since when did we look for peace and prosperity here on earth? When did we stop believing our Savior’s words: “In the world you will have tribulation.” Or the Apostle Peter’s, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Certainly we do not look for trouble, but we should not be surprised when it comes. Yet I see the whole Church trembling at the possibility of difficult times ahead. Yet we are not to be surprised by trouble, nor are we to be fearful of it.

You see, I think the issue is simple – we are too earthly minded. We are absorbed with our own self interest, our own wellbeing, our own prosperity. Yet many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world suffer terribly in poverty, in affliction, in persecution. We care nothing for them. We do not pray for them. We do not send them any help (I am convicted at this moment about my lack of love for my suffering  brothers). We are concerned only for our own welfare, proven by the anger, fear, hatred we have allowed to creep into our hearts against the other candidate, thinking all the while that we are righteous in our carnal indignation. How deceptively wicked is the human heart!

So here is my admonition to all my Christian brothers and sisters in America:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Quiet, calm indifference toward the outcome of the election is sensible and godly, so long as you are seeking the kingdom of God above all (and this is what we ought to be doing). Cast your vote, let your voice be heard, but why should you be so troubled when “the nations rage”? Why should fear and anger fill your heart? How is this godly? How is this Christ-like?

Was not our Savior largely indifferent toward political arguments? After all, He had both a zealot and a tax collector in His circle. When asked if we should pay taxes (a hot-button political topic if ever there was one), Jesus nonchalantly said that we should while not forgetting our duty to God. We are called to be better than the world around us, not identical to it.

And so I get to my point. What is the solution? How can the Christian man or woman rise above all of this? How can we believers show the love of Christ during future election cycles, instead of joining in with the mudslinging and hateful speech of the world? We must let go of the American dream. We have a far better hope, one that awaits us in heaven. We need not clamor to gain the world, at the expense of our soul. Rather, we ought to strive to be rich toward God, and to have the peace of Christ ruling in our hearts. We have filled our minds with the wrong hopes, and set our sights on the uncertainty of riches. We have been building our little castles in the sand, terrified of the next big wave that might come and sweep it all away. Have done with it, Christian! Instead, “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We need to embrace a different dream, a dream of the rule of God. No elected president can bring the kingdom of God – only Christ enthroned in hearts can do that. It is not the role of government to enforce God’s laws, nor of elected officials to fight to establish the kingdom of God on earth. None of them are doing that anyway. Instead, it is the Church, the Elect of Heaven, whose responsibility it is to usher in the kingdom through preaching the word of Christ. We are fighting the wrong enemies, with the wrong weapons, for the wrong reasons. “The hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

If tomorrow our nation should crumble, and all our earthly hopes and dreams be shattered to pieces, our true hope remains untouched. Moth and rust cannot corrupt our treasure there, nor can thieves break in and steal. No president can veto what Christ has promised, and none of God’s laws are reviewed in a meeting of Congress. No judge’s gavel can overturn the Word of God. “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

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