Seven Hopes for the 2016 Christian Citizen
I am writing this blog entry on the eve of the most contentious, controversial, and dramatic election of my lifetime. Watching the narrative that is this “campaign” season seems more like, at times, a bad reality show instead of the greatest country on earth exercising the beautiful gift of democracy. I have often thought that no matter who wins, we have all lost something, most notably dignity and respect in our public discourse. And by the time you read this, one of two candidates will be crowned champion through the flawed but amazing process that determines the leadership of this great republic.
It seems that so much of what I have learned and taught about leadership is largely ignored and even excused when it comes time for election season. Both candidates appear to “take the gloves off”, as it were, and kick their civility to the curb. All the lines get blurred in the name of winning. It might do us well to remember that a line blurred is more times than not a line crossed. And once a line is crossed, whether that be ethical, moral, or just plain old decency, it becomes much easier to cross it again and again. This is where we find ourselves now. We’ve become more comfortable and accustomed to the wrong side of the line, so much so that decency and civility have become the rare surprise surfacing in any campaign, catching everyone off guard. So I write today in an effort to remind us that as the storm of the political season settles down and the winner emerges, Christians still have a responsibility as citizens. My hope is to offer a handful of thoughts regarding citizenship for the coming days, months, and four-year term.
- A citizen should accept the outcome of an election and yet be able to disagree with the outline by which a politician leads.
- A citizen should seek to hold their leaders accountable, yet appreciate and accentuate the positive and redeemable qualities of that leader.
- A citizen should never place false hope in the temporal institutions of a broken and fallen world.
- A citizen, in that he or she bears the image of God, is ultimately under the authority of and responsible to God.
- A citizen should be wise as a serpent, thus knowing government and its laws, and innocent as a dove, in that he or she is motivated to keep the gospel from being marginalized by state.
- A citizen should fulfill the role of being salt and light, which is to be a preserving and illuminating element in culture, so that people will see their good works and glorify their Father in Heaven.
- A citizen should always seek to do “what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)