Friday, October 28, 2016

Fruitful Politics: Meekness

"The meek will be taking over the earth, so gently that the powerful won't notice until it's too late." (Simply Jesus, by N.T. Wright)
While some translations call this fruit of the Spirit gentleness, there are other Greek words better suited to be translated as such. The word in this verse is praus, meaning "strength brought under control." The Greeks used the term to describe a wild horse brought under the control of a master by the use of a bit and bridle.

The parallels to the life of a Spirit-filled Christian are obvious, but often ignored. The meek are not easily provoked, not easily panicked, and not easily distracted.

One reason why we so often fail at the gentle art of meekness is that we fail to keep our focus on the true mission.

If I've allowed the world's thought machine to convince me that the most important purpose I could possibly pursue in 2016 is keeping illegal aliens from taking our jobs, corrupting our country or importing terrorism, then the part of meekness that always takes its directions from the master has already been set aside. The same is true if I've concluded the most important goal for the few days remaining before November 8th is to convince as many Facebook friends as possible that Donald Trump is a danger to the country and to our women. Or that Hillary Clinton should be in jail. Or that President Obama is a Muslim. Or that George Bush and the CIA engineered the 9/11 attacks so they could hand over to the NSA the keys to American's privacy.

If you've become convinced that any of those goals, or any other political agenda, should be the driving motivator of your behavior, you've slipped the reins and broken out of the stall.

There is no cause that might capture the imagination and energies of a Christian that is more important than the cause of representing the kingdom of God by being salt and light in the world. Not conservatism nor liberalism. Not libertarianism nor nationalism. No candidate or principle is more important than the gospel.

Also, there is no amount of "rightness" of a cause that allows a representative of Christ Jesus to set aside the righteous character the Lord wants to work out in our lives.

Meekness requires that even if I find myself emboldened by an adrenaline rush when I hear or read some comment by a politician or one of his or her followers, I'll still allow my reaction or response to be under the control of the master. I'm no longer a maverick, running wild on the political range, picking fights with rivals. I'm an energetic and powerful steed for the Holy Spirit to ride in pursuit of God's mission, regardless of the direction or manner in which I'd like to take off at a gallop.

What does it profit a Christian if he gains the White House and ensures the right Supreme Court Justices are named or the wrong person's finger is not on the nuclear panic button, but, in the process of pushing for that political goal, loses his soul and the souls of his non-believing friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers?

God's mission does not require spinning the truth, passing along political gossip, or sharing rude Facebook memes.
When God wants to change the world, he doesn't send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the mourners, those who are hungry and thirsty for God's justice, the peacemakers, and so on. Just as God's whole style, his chosen way of operating, reflects his generous love, sharing his rule with human creatures, so the way in which those humans then have to behave if they are to be agents of Jesus' lordship reflects in turn the same sense of vulnerable, gentle, but powerful self-giving love. (Simply Jesus, by N.T. Wright)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fruitful Politics: Faithfulness

I was pleased when Bob Dylan was named the recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." He's been the poet laureate of my generation, telling tales of the life of a rolling stone and painting pictures of the world seen from his unique perspective.

I have many favorites among his works, but the one that always sticks with me is from his 1979 album, Slow Train Coming:
You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
Serve Somebody was the most successful of the songs from that album, a collection he created during his spiritual journey of the late 70's. Arguments can be made about the degree of Dylan's faithfulness to the Lord of Lords, but these lyrics have brought Jesus' words to life for many.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24
Jesus applied the principle, at that moment, to the danger of loving and serving money. The principle holds true for many other things that can threaten to become a master that competes with God, including politics.

How can you tell if your faithfulness to politics has pushed aside your faithfulness to God? Consider these thoughts:
  • Are you willing to spin the truth about your chosen candidate, lying to others and to yourself about their flaws, while amplifying the flaws of the opponent? The Father of Lies would welcome your faithfulness to his agenda.
  • Are your political obsessions distracting you from the mission of God? Are they distracting the seekers and skeptics around you from the faithfulness of God?
  • When someone asks you the reasons for your political stance, do you remember to mention your faith and the name of the One who motivates everything you do? Or would a missional approach conflict with the tone and tenor of your vehement response?
  • Do you see the fiercely devoted followers of the "other" candidate as distasteful? Or do you see them as people who need to rediscover the image of God within themselves?
  • Are you so fearful about the possible outcome of the election that you're on the edge of panic? Or do you understand that God is faithful and will work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose?
  • Are you faithfully sharing the good news in season and out of season, or are you too busy sharing your hot takes on the latest developments during political season?
  • Have you considered whether your freedom of political expression might interfere with your ability to be heard when you talk about Jesus?
Are you remembering to be loyal - to be faithful - to the God who will always be loyal and faithful to you, even when you forget about him during political season?
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4
If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. II Timothy 2:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.  I Timothy 1:12
You're gonna have to serve somebody.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fruitful Politics: Goodness

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Some readers, if they haven't read my previous blogposts on missional politics, may have been wondering about the reason for the picture of trees. What does it have to do with the topic at hand?

It's all about goodness, and what you're sinking your roots into.

From a previous blogpost, What Tree Would You Be?:

Like a tree being feed an uneven diet of toxic nutrition, the average Christian's powers of discernment are being slowly poisoned. We're consuming so much of a limited range of information, we can no longer recognize the validity or existence of alternative ideas. Like the beautiful red tree in the picture, we're proud to be the oddball in the crowd, the one is getting the good info and possesses all the right opinions about every topic. Worst of all, with constant feedback from our favored sources, continually reinforcing our confidence in the rightness of our views and our cause, we begin to listen to those voices more than we listen to that other voice inside us. The Holy Spirit voice. The one that keeps trying to pull us back to the Bible, back to our purpose as Christians, back to the fruit of the Spirit and humility and mission.
For the Christian who genuinely wants to let the fruit of the Spirit drive his involvement in politics, continually soaking up the goodness of God is essential.

As a writer who frequently writes about the intersection of Christianity and American culture, I read a lot about politics and the latest trends in cultural thought. I continually have to remind myself, though, that I can easily lose my way if that's all I ever read.

While I'm searching for yet another obscure piece about the cutting edge of post-modern American thought, I'm also intentional about reading the Word, to keep myself rooted in God's goodness.

I'm also constantly on the lookout for other writings that reflect and express the goodness of God as it applies to life in 21st century America. The truth of God can be found in unexpected places.

Examples of what is noble are always a treasure. I find nobility in those rare people who refuse to let their principles be dumbed down or compromised by the whims of pop culture.

I also look for examples of people, both believers and non-believers, standing up for whatever is right in the face of a tidal wave of wrong. I appreciate people like Southern Baptist president Russell Moore, who has steadfastly refused to ignore the deep flaws of both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, no matter their political platforms.

It's only by consuming a variety of the goodness that God is constantly inspiring throughout our culture that we can remain balanced in our approach to politics. Too often we latch onto the the worst of our culture, the sensationalism of the latest viral rumors, the never-ending negatives.

We're supposed to be salt and light, or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, we're to bring out the God-flavors and God-colors in the world. We should be actively looking for the glimpses of goodness and truth and nobility and rightness and purity and loveliness and everything admirable in daily life, in the news, and on social media. And THAT's what we should be sharing on our timelines, on the political message boards, and in our conversations at work and in the checkout line.

That will only happen, though, if our roots go deep into the goodness of God.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fruitful Politics: Kindness

“Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign." Joshua 2:12

I've always understood kindness as the active expression of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So how does kindness work itself out in the political season?

Kindness listens. The worst sort of conversation is the one where you can tell the other person is not really listening to you. They're half-listening while they're waiting to respond with their much-more-important contribution to the "discussion". This happens all too frequently in political discussions. No one is really interested in a substantive dialogue. They're just taking turns spouting off their cherished opinions.

Kindness listens attentively and actually considers not only the content of what's being said, but the value of the person talking.

Kindness prefers dialogue to monologue. This is closely related to the previous point. Some people, when they're talking about politics, are so invested - or obsessed - with the brilliance and superiority of their own political insights, they'll talk your ear off. There's no room to respond, to ask questions, or even to agree.

Kindness loves a dialogue, reveling more in the personal interaction, in getting to know one another better, than in letting the other person know how smart you are.

Kindness answers softly. It's easy to become so wrapped up in the "right vs. wrong" narrative when it comes to politics. Reasonable people can and do disagree on the detailed application of principle to politics. Approaching every political statement or Facebook share as the opening volley in a war will motivate you to respond with a blast of indignant certainty. Valuing the other's right to their opinion as much as your own will help you to respond with a soft answer. That doesn't mean you'll always agree, but you'll answer gently, perhaps putting your riposte into the form of a question.

Kindness hesitates to judge motives. In my experience, responding to a strong partisan statement with a soft answer often prompts the other person to quickly assume I'm for the opposite candidate or position. Along with that can come assumptions about my motives for such a contrary viewpoint. Often, their assumptions are not true at all. It's just that my goal is to keep political conversations constructive and missional.

Jumping to conclusions about someone's motives for their political stance or their approach is never conducive to having a productive dialogue. Kindness assumes the best motives from others, until proven otherwise.

Kindness doesn't pass along gossip. If kindness is treating others like I'd like to be treated, then gossip is at the top of the list of things I don't like. Gossip is unkind and is more a sign of the works of the flesh (hatred, discord, ... selfish ambition, dissensions...) than the fruit of the Spirit.

Gossiping about politicians and candidates is equally unkind. If you heard a salacious but unproven rumor about me, would you rush to post the details on Facebook? Would you share it with as many friends and friends-of-friends as possible? I would hope not.

Why, then, are so many people - and so many Christian people - so gleeful about passing along the latest viral smear about political figures? Is it because we don't think of them as people? Gossip is unkind in any setting.

Kindness sees individuals.  It's so easy to see the phrase #BlackLivesMatter and respond to the political statement, rather than seeing the wounded souls of the people who have been marginalized by so many. It's easy to vehemently oppose policies about immigrants and refugees and fail to respond with empathy toward the plight of the aliens in our midst.

Kind, Spirit-fueled believers may hold definite opinions about the politics of a situation, but they will always fall back on their default mode of empathy and compassion for the individual children of God enmeshed in a political quagmire.

Kindness offers help. If I'm struggling with my weight, I hope my Christian friends will help me by keeping me on track with my diet and exercise program, rather than just shaking their heads at the "fat pig"in their midst. If someone in the church has anger issues, I would hope his fellow believers would help him with his problems rather than talking about him behind his back. These are just common sense expectations of how the community of believers conduct themselves.

Why, then, do so many Christians respond to the poor, the drug addict, the convicted criminal, the transgendered, and the young woman who just had abortion - why do so many believers see these sinners and have a quick, automatic reaction of censure and political outrage?  Spirit-driven kindness produces an automatic response of "what can I do to help?"

Kindness gets involved. Kindness not only sees the individuals enmeshed in the issues and immediately wants to know how to help. Kindness also  rolls up its sleeves and gets involved. "Helping" can be something you do while still keeping your distance. I'll give money to a group that helps "those people", but I really don't want to get involved with "those people."

It took me years to learn this lesson: You'll never know the full blessings of the Christian life until you intentionally become messily involved in the messy lives of messy people. More than your money, more than your political opinions, people who are oppressed by the world or oppressed by sin need to know you're willing to walk along beside them.

Kindness gets involved.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fruitful Politics: Forbearance

Some translations call this fruit of the Spirit patience. I think the word forbearance is much more descriptive of what Paul had in mind.

Patience is a common word. In modern usage it often means nothing more than semi-willingly sitting around and waiting for something to happen.

God's forbearance, as described in His Word, is an act of mercy and grace.

The scriptures that talk about the forbearance of God frequently describe it as putting off judgment. It's like a probationary period, without the guarantee of a full pardon.

Forbearance also carries with it the important aspect of bearing with and bearing up the person who might otherwise be judged. God doesn't idly stand by and watch us flail about. He doesn't root for us to fail. To the contrary, he patiently bears with us, not wanting anyone to perish. He bears us up by providing Christ as a substitutionary sacrifice. He also bears us up by actively seeking and saving the lost, a mission pursued by Jesus and by the beautiful feet and vocal mouths of His Church.

His forbearance is only transformed from a temporary stopgap to a permanent withholding of judgment for those who accept Christ's offer to bear the punishment.

If we apply this understanding of God's forbearance to the frequent call for his followers to practice forbearance, it takes on a more complex meaning than simply being patient.

When someone is in the wrong, the forbearing Christian patiently waits, allowing them time to change. We also bear them up, rather than tearing them down. We're not trying to shame them or make things more difficult for them. Instead, we're getting involved, bearing with them, instead of sitting by idly, waiting for them to fail. And yet we know there are consequences in store if change does not occur.

So, how does the biblical concept of forbearance apply to the Christian's conduct during political season?

Rather than buying into post-modern concepts of tolerance and diversity, the Christian will instead choose forbearance. It's not our job to judge people whose lifestyle is in opposition to our understanding of God's clear truth. Instead, we're to be patient with them and actively play a part in God's mission to let them know about Christ's sacrifice.

This will mean that instead of avoiding all contact with sinners, we will intentionally seek them out, going to the places where they are, befriending them. This shouldn't be difficult. Christians are already in the habit of hanging out with a motley group of sinners every Sunday morning.

This missional attitude of forbearance toward people living ungodly lifestyles doesn't necessarily mean Christians will readily agree to laws that condone and/or enable those lifestyles. Some believers might see the granting of some legal rights and freedoms to their fellow sinners as part and parcel of forbearance. Others will not agree with that at all.

Reasonable Christians can agree to disagree on the politics of morality, but we surely can agree to agree that our primary task as the Church of the forbearing God is to be missionally forbearing to all sinners, even the ones who make us uncomfortable.

We'll also want to be missionally forbearing to people with whom we disagree about political issues.

My neighbor's opinions about illegal immigration might be completely opposite of mine. I might even think he's a political wacko. But I can still be forbearing, rather than confrontational, with him. But only if I always see him -and his opinions - through the lens of the missional eyes God has given me.

My co-worker's insistence on loudly campaigning for a candidate I find repugnant might provoke me, and it can be difficult to not allow myself to be baited into arguments. Instead, her actions should remind me to increase the level of my forbearance toward her. After all, if my continual arguing with her over politics prompts her to distrust my judgments and opinions in general, she's unlikely to listen to me when I want to tell her about my Savior.

Spirit-prompted forbearance will always be motivated by and directed toward patiently drawing people to Christ, even during political season.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fruitful Politics: Peace

The politics of peace can be pretty complicated, prompting a lot of disagreement and even more labeling.

Are you a hawk or a dove? An isolationist or an interventionist? Do you favor diplomacy or confrontation? Appeasement or bullying? Unilateral disarmament or mutually assured destruction? Or perhaps something in between those choices or way outside the box?

Or are you a peacemaker?

Regardless of your stance or the opinion of whomever you're talking to about politics, is your first impulse to be a peacemaker? Or are you an argument instigator? The guy who always has to put in his two cents. Or the girl who always has to have the last word. Or, worst of all, are you a troll?

Or maybe you're the one who is quick to turn a conversation into a debate and then into a full fledged fight. All because, of course, you believe so strongly in the right-ness of your opinions. Forget the righteousness of peacemaking, you're going to make your point and you're not going to quit until you've either convinced your 'opponent' or they run away in fear.

Being a peacemaker is harder than being a troublemaker. To stir up trouble in any discussion, all you have to do is react, countering every statement with one of your own, answering every claim with a counter-claim, every spin with a counter-spin.

Being a peacemaker is about not reacting with jerk of a knee, but instead responding from the depths of your carefully tended heart.

You've been putting down deep roots into the Word of God. You've been investing intense hours on your knees, struggling with the difference between your desires and the things God loves, between your opinions and God's priorities. And you've come through it with a changed heart, one that always and only wants to peacefully pursue His mission, That mission is to share His shalom - "a rest of will that comes from divine assurance about how things will turn out" (Dallas Willard) - with every person in every situation in every season.

Even in political season.

Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. (James 4:1-2, 11-12, The Message)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fruitful Politics: Joy

How can godly JOY, second among Paul's listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, have anything to do with politics?

I wondered this myself until I stumbled across The Politics of Long Joy, a piece by Alan Jacobs at Books & Culture. I'd encourage you to read it in its entirety, but allow me to excerpt this paragraph that explains the phrase, "long joy":
"The politics of long joy" is an odd phrase, but a rich one. Fish derives it from another moment in Paradise Lost, when the archangel Michael reveals to Adam a vision of "Just men" who "all their study bent / To worship God aright," who then are approached by a "bevy of fair women" and determine to marry them. Adam likes this vision; two earlier ones had shown pain and death, but this one seems to Adam to portend "peaceful days," harmony among peoples. But Michael immediately corrects him. This is in fact a vision of the events described in Genesis 6, in which, after the "sons of God" become enamored with the "daughters of man," God discerns that "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." "Judge not what is best / By pleasure," Michael warns Adam, "though to nature seeming meet." Instead, Adam should judge according to the "nobler end" for which he was created: "conformity divine," that is, obedience to God. And when Adam hears this rebuke Milton tells us that he was "of short joy bereft." Of short joy bereft: for the joy which comes from judging according to appearances and immediate circumstances, according to what we now like to call "outcomes," is always short. Only the joy of conforming our will to God's is long.
Jacobs goes on to explain the application of this "long joy" principle to his job as a cultural critic. We would do well to consider its implications for our involvement, as Christians, in politics.

First, we are free to express our opinions on political topics, free to support and even campaign for our chosen candidates, and free to speak clearly about how we see political ideas and politicians in light of the truths of God and the interests of His people.

We're also free to keep our mouths shut and keep our opinions to ourselves. As I've said many times, there is no biblical imperative to have an opinion on every topic, nor is there any mandate to always share what opinions we do have. Our mandate is to be extreme and consistent in our love and to pursue God's mission above all else.

If we're bubbling over with the fruit of joy, we're also going to be guided by a fruitful perspective on the implications and impact of political elections and cultural changes.

It's so easy to get caught up in the "short joy" of putting all our eggs into the basket of a particular candidate's victory, or in the passing of a particular bill, or the nomination of a particular breed of supreme court justices.

By our frantic reaction to every event (or pseudo-event) during the campaign season, we're declaring to the world that our joy as Christians is dependent upon the shifting sands of national politics. We telegraph our fear of the "wrong" candidate and the "wrong" policies to our children, to the believers who look to us as mentors, and to both both seekers and skeptics who look to the Christians around them for a display of the "long joy" and confidence that comes from Jesus.

On November 8th - and the days following - will your family and friends and flock see you angry, distraught, or panicky if your candidate loses? Or will they barely see your disappointment because they're blinded by your dazzling "long joy"?

The world is indeed a mess. It has been since Adam and Eve first corrupted the glory of the garden. America isn't a godly nation. It never was, not to the extreme some would pretend. We are surrounded and have always been surrounded by sin, by wrongness, by failure.

Quoting Alan Jacobs again:
The truth of who we are, given the extremes of divine image and savage depravity, is hard to discern; perhaps we can only achieve it in brief moments; perhaps we only catch rumors of the glory that is, and is to be. But even those rumors can sustain us as we walk the pilgrim path.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fruitful Politics: Love

No good tree bears bad fruit... (Luke 6:43-45)
The following plea appeared in my Facebook feed on primary day back in March:
To my brothers and sisters in Christ. Please don't vote in anger and frustration but vote for the candidate who will make God first again in our great nation.
I appreciate the sentiment, although I may not agree with the political assumptions behind the words.

To my mind, to really be fruitful in putting God first in our great nation, it's less about a list of opinions or platforms, and more about whether Spirit-driven Christians are bearing the Spirit's fruit in abundance as they walk with the Spirit through the minefields of politics.

The first among Paul's list of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is Love.

During Jesus' three year ministry, his priority was always on loving God, loving your neighbor, and loving your enemies. On the few occasions when he was confronted with political questions or politically sensitive topics, he always responded in a way that demonstrated love for God, love for your neighbor, and love for enemies.

In 21st century America, even many Christians have bought into the either/or approach to issues and to people. If you are a supporter of this candidate, you must despise and believe the worst about their opponent. If you agree with this policy, you must believe the worst about people on the opposite side.

Believe it or not, it's possible to love the teachings about morality in God's Word and yet still love immoral people, whether they be homosexuals, liars, greedy, crude, or just plain flawed like the rest of us.

It's possible - and praiseworthy - to love both the sinners and the saved, to have loving compassion on the very real oppression experienced by black people while also loving and honoring law enforcement officials.

It's possible to have strong views about the politics of immigration and yet respond to immigrants - legal or illegal - with an abundance of love.

We would do well to read Paul's treatise on love in I Corinthians 13 on a daily basis during political season. His practical, down-to-earth description of love in action would us to bear fruit when we talk politics.

  • The fruitful Christian will respond to the belligerence of politically intense people with patience.
  • Rudeness and insult won't be a part of the kind demeanor of the fruitful Christian.
  • The fruitful Christian will avoid dishonoring others - even politicians who seem to have little honor - in our conversations and our social media posts.
  • The fruitful Christian is not easily angered, not even by people whose political viewpoints seem in extreme opposition to godliness and justice.
  • The fruitful Christian won't be constantly looking for every little slip-up an opposing candidate or politician makes, keeping a record of wrongs, amplifying the faults of the "wrong" politician and glossing over the faults of the "right" person.

Politicians and hot topics come and go, but love never fails.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Missional Politics: Kobayashi Maru

The 2016 presidential election presents a classic Kobayashi Maru scenrio - a "no win" situation.

For the non Trekkies who are reading this, the Kobayashi Maru, according to the Star Trek wiki, MemoryAlpha:
...was an infamous no-win scenario that was part of the curriculum for command-track cadets at Starfleet Academy in the 23rd century. It was primarily used to assess a cadet's discipline, character and command capabilities when facing an impossible situation, as there is no (legitimate) strategy that will result in a successful outcome.
Many voters see no legitimate strategy that will result in a successful outcome to this election. Both the Republican and Democratic candidates are repellent in their own ways. We're faced with the choice of voting for the one we're least scared about. The only alternative seems to be either a vote for a third party candidate or staying home and not voting at all, both of which choices would effectively help one or the other of the mainstream candidates to win.

For a Christian, though, there is no such thing as a no-win scenario.

In the fictional world of Star Trek, there was one cadet who found a way to win.
In the 2250s, James T. Kirk became the first (and only known) cadet to ever beat the no-win scenario. After taking the test and failing twice, Kirk took the test a third time after surreptitiously reprogramming the computer to make it possible to win the scenario. Kirk was subsequently awarded a commendation for "original thinking" and later commented, wistfully, that his stunt "had the virtue of never having been tried."
Some people have "reprogrammed" their minds to conveniently ignore the flaws and flubs of one candidate, while amplifying ever slip up and questionable comment by the other. For a Christian, this should never be an option. The Father of Lies is quite pleased when his opponents followers resort to spinning the truth.

As Christians, our mission is not to buy into the platforms and purposes of the culture, but to "reprogram" our minds. The scriptures don't use the term "reprogram", but they do talk about the  "renewing of the mind" (Romans 12:2), being "made new in the attitude of your minds" (Ephesians 4:23), and "taking every thought captive" (II Corinthians 10:5).

If we reprogram our minds to to see things the way God sees them, we'll understand, first of all, that God is in charge, and that no king, no president, no nation is more powerful or more important than the King of Kings. In the Old Testament, God frequently is described as laughing or scoffing at the pretensions of rulers and principalities. If God thinks so little of them, why do we, as people who put our trust wholly in God, allow ourselves to get caught up in the hysteria surrounding who will be the next president?

Having your mind rooted in the Word of God, rather than in the world's version of the Word,  will change how you respond to the way the culture around us is reacting to the elections. As I've said before,
While people around you are pushing the edge of the envelope in favor of an extreme, whether politically conservative or liberal, the missional believer will continue to stretch him or herself to sacrificially seek and save the lost. 
As we reprogram our hearts to love what God loves and hate what He hates, we'll be driven by His concern to seek and save the lost. We'll be eager to leapfrog past the political wranglings to eagerly be salt and light in the world, or as Eugene Peterson's The Message, puts it, to "bring out the God flavors" and the "God colors" in the world, in effect working to "reprogram" the way people in the world look at the world.

The alternative is to get caught up into the chaos of the no-win scenario, causing more harm than good. As one Star Trek cadet's poor performance in the Kobayashi Maru training exercise was described, "she destroyed the simulator room and you with it."

If my political obsessions lead me to argue to often and too vehemently with non-believers about political issues, I've become a stumbling block. I'm distracting them from the smiling and welcoming face of the Father who loves them. I also risk causing them to stumble when they look at me and, instead of seeing the love of Jesus in my actions and attitudes and words, they see someone scary, someone who only wants to convince them of some political opinion.

Our primary mission as Christians is not to win the battle for or against climate change, gun control, globalism, immigration, refugee settlement, political correctness, gay rights, racial equality, trickle down economics, a living minimum wage, or even abortion.

Our mission is play our part in reprogramming the minds and hearts of the people we encounter to honor god and trust Him as Lord, not to spin our wheels trying to win them to a political point of view.

So, go ahead and make the tough decision and vote for whichever candidate you can stomach. Or decide to not vote, if that's the only choice you feel you can live with. But don't let that choice push you into a no-win corner.

Yes, we're still, next January, going to watch one or the other of these less than perfect candidates take the oath of office. Even if the one you finally - if reluctantly - vote for is the one who wins, you're still probably going to be less than totally satisfied with having "won."

But if you're focused on Jesus' mission, you're always going to  be on the winning side.