I keep having this recurring nightmare from which I cannot awake: their are several more months of cruel and unusual punishment known as American politics during an election year. That sound you hear is me dry-wretching in mental torment and soul-nausea. Compelled by many who keep asking me to say something, I choose to resist no longer as today I am depositing some thoughts about the 2016 Presidential race. Here it is in a nutshell: it is all about a handful of powerful people wish to become more powerful, and will sacrifice nearly anything to win a shot at becoming the most powerful. Pessimistic? I really don’t think so. I am just calling it as I see it, as I refuse to wear virtual reality goggles. I am truly embarrassed about what I have seen this year in politics. I can no longer say that I love what America is becoming, because the roots of who we once were as a nation are completely invisible, and now all we can see is the fruit hanging on the branches. That fruit is rotting before our eyes on branches that are currently sagging… and soon to snap. Before my very eyes is unfolding the exponentially accelerating decline and demise of what has historically served as evidence of America’s greatness. I am speaking specifically of virtues like liberty, valor, faith, morality, honor and sacrifice. These things once identified our republic to the rest of the world as they stopped, took inventory, aspired to emulate us and gratefully received our help. Things have changed and, admittedly, part of it is due to our arrogance in assuming that once was would always continue for us. We now live in an era wherein American excellence is no longer a given. The next seven months will either accelerate that poorly-directed continuum, or begin to resist, maybe even reverse, it. Sobering is the reality that the people who will determine the outcome are the American voters. That scary little tidbit should make the stoutest among us sweat a little. Check out this verse before I continue my sanctified rant on politics:
“Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a belt, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty.” – Isaiah 3:24
I bet nobody claims this one as their life-verse! More than 2,700 years in the past Isaiah was warning his own privileged countrymen that they had crossed an invisible line from which they would not return. In his words above, he highlighted the devastating exchange that would be occurring in Israel. The once perfumed, lavishly adorned and beautiful people would lose what they had taken for granted, and then be forced to receive rottenness, baldness and mourning instead. His message was not popular among those who had to listen, but Isaiah spoke the jagged truth of what happens when a collective people harden their hearts against Almighty God. America would do well to consider that, if God would judge His covenant people in Israel, what do we think would hold Him back from doing the same to us? What grasps me most of the prophet’s ancient words is the phrase “branding instead of beauty”. Israel would forfeit the favor they had long enjoyed, and receive in its place the branding of slavery.
What I see today in America is a nation that has long lost its way. Now, that doesn’t mean that we cannot find our way once again, but it seems that the majority of Americans would consider it wise to exchange the beauty of our liberty for the security of being enslaved to a government. Whoever they end up being, our two presidential candidates will wrangle publicly with hollow words in those mind-numbing debates and, if you listen closely, both candidates will make promises that they know within that they will never be able to keep. One candidate will declare that we need the federal government’s branding on our lives, and will pledge safety and security to those who take its mark and welcome the government to provide care for all their presumed needs. The other candidate will likely win many hearts by vowing to return this country to greatness through sheer force of will, and policies that will topple everything that have made his followers mad for the last eight years. Both candidates are utilizing the same gateway into hearts in order to secure the presidency: the gateway of emotion. One will prey upon the emotion of fear in the hearts of those who want to be taken care of, and the other candidate will storm through the emotion of anger in the hearts of those who just wish to be left alone by Washington D.C. Ladies and gentlemen, mark it down, integrity has left the building.
No matter who you or I vote for, we will not be welcoming a savior of any sort. Pick your poison. Hillary? Trump? Some dark-horse who appears at the eleventh hour? We simply do not know what will happen. Either way, if you pin your highest hopes on the candidate you prefer, you will become enslaved to some form of lesser loyalties. I like what Ed Stetzer said in a recent online post:
“Remember, as you discuss around the water cooler today, Jesus is still on His throne, and He is not coming back on an elephant or a donkey.”
Whether Israel in Isaiah’s day or America in your day, open your eyes and confess the reality that the 2016 Presidential race is not about the people of America – it is only about our votes. Presidential races are no longer about vision, values, servanthood or sacrificial leadership. It is now all about nebulous policies, neurotic power and narcissistic politics . Yes, I will vote again in November but, no matter who wins, I doubt that I will cheer. A pile of manure is still manure, no matter who is sitting on the top of it as king or queen.
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