When we are young, most of us experience some form of hero worship at one time or another.
We meet somebody who seems larger than life, who does things we aspire to do ourselves, and we place them on a figurative pedestal.
When we do this, we are almost guaranteed to be disappointed somewhere down the road because all human beings are flawed in their actions and thoughts. All people make choices that hurt others. Nobody is exempt from this.
Listen to this song. When I wrote it, I was deeply convicted. We suffer from a particular sort of jealousy on a personal and global level . . . always. A fear that we must have what others have or look how others look . . . and a sort of disbelief in the fact that human kings are not the same as the King of Kings.
Human beings will always be building monuments to themselves. We will not grow out of this. Monarchs and politicians will always have some corner of their personhood taken up with an unhealthy desire for power. Nobody enters into such a career innocently. We are naive when we assume that these people are our saviors. There was only one of those . . . and we crucified Him. He knew we would do it. He knew what we expected . . . a king with a crown . . . and He wasn't that.
There's no such thing as "God's president," friends. Many times we say that there is because we hope we can congratulate ourselves on promoting God's morals. None of us promote God's morals. Our true relationship with God is deep within. It is not boasting in the streets. It is not yelling in the faces of friends and enemies. It is suffering without winning. It is winning without bragging. And we were never promised comfort in the way of the world, friends. In fact . . . we were promised trouble. We don't get to make our God-related choices based on a desire for the right to be looked on favorably. We give up all of our own rights when we choose Jesus.
We trade our rights for Jesus' commandments . . . and for His forgiveness.
Let's take a little walk over to the gospel of Matthew, shall we?
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus replied: "''Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the law and prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40
I'm not telling you we shouldn't ever advocate for anything or anyone. I'm not telling you we should be quiet and not share about our faith. We should advocate for what is good. We should share about our faith. But we should also check our motivation. If we're not doing all of this because we love the Lord AND because we are actively loving our neighbor, we need to be quiet and ask God to help us have more love in our heart. That's our job as Christian folks. Historically, ethically righteous anger, such as we saw with MLK, is driven by the love of God AND a conscious love for our fellow human beings. And when folks like this have worked toward social progress in the past, they've done so without endorsing violence, separation, or the subjugation of other people...think on that for a minute. That's a lot to swallow.
Right now there are lots of people claiming that their way is the only right way. They are standing on both sides of the fence.
I can't make your choices for you, friend. I wouldn't want to do that. I don't really know about your life.
But I do know about the love of the Lord.
God loves all sorts of people we might not like so much. We are going to have to get used to that. You remember Jonah, right? Poor, Jonah. He was so angry that God pitied the folks he wanted so badly to get rid of . . . I mean . . . they were just so ar from perfect. Jonah very much wanted a God who would act just like people do - get rid of the ones who aren't like us! Make them pay us back, every little bit, for any trouble they've caused us! Jonah wanted a God who would be just like a human ruler - a manager of people. And instead God behaved like God, sparing those who were not so perfect and did not seem so deserving . . . speaking into the hearts of folks who didn't even understand God's name yet. Jonah was so disappointed. So upset that God wouldn't rain anger down on these folks. God said one of my favorite things to Jonah just then. God has said this to me before, too. God probably says it to you sometimes, friend. It's uncomfortable, but when God says it to us, it's always right. God said, "Is it right for you to be angry?"
Dear ones, we go on longing for somebody who will help us justify our anger. We want to say that these powerful human beings are chosen by God, but they are chosen by us . . . to achieve things we hope they'll achieve. Humanity has been playing this game for a long time.
God's chosen people longed for a king ages and ages ago and God lamented - Why am I not enough for you? My people have chosen an earthly king over me.
The rest was history. Read it for yourself. The Old Testament is fascinating. Idolatry comes to us in more forms than that of a golden calf.
So . . . I can't answer anything for you about why you should or shouldn't support any sort of a public figure. But I can remind you, in the spirit of Christian love, that we are called to love God more than human kings AND we are called to love our neighbors the same way we would choose to love ourselves. We have to think about those 2 things and weigh our choices against them. Jesus did not endorse any of our candidates. Jesus only endorses God the Father and the Holy Spirit. We'd do well to remember that when we're talking to each other. Friends, please don't use the precious name of Christ to make an idol of any of these men.
We cannot trust a single one of them to exclusively speak for Jesus. God explained that away many hundreds of years ago. You may check your Bible anytime you like.
We, as people who love God, can act and speak in a way that showers the love of God on others. Sometimes that means we'll need to march. Sometimes that means we'll need to have discussions that are uncomfortable. But it never means that we get to use Jesus as a power play. Jesus taught us about humility. God and Caesar were not the same entity in the mind of Christ, although His culture often sought to make that misconception a reality. We can give today's Caesars our votes, sure. But we should never ever give them our hearts. We like to say, "No, no, I never ever do that! That's not me!" But, speaking from personal experience, friends, I can testify to the fact that imperfection guarantees that I will confuse these things sometimes. And so will you. We have to be careful. Now more than ever. Because if we build an altar to men in our hearts, we will lose our sense of direction on this journey toward God's great reconciliation.