What I mean is that it is often those who mock our faith who are the first to call us hypocrites, recognizing that if we really believed what we preached, we would be living differently. In fact, society as a whole actually expects us to live differently, and the average American still expects Christians to help the poor, live wholesome lives, and transcend partisan politics.
Of course, there are some Christians who, as the old saying goes, are “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good,” but that is actually a violation of the teachings of Jesus. (Judaism is less prone to fall into that trap, and we do well to remember that Jesus was Jewish teacher not a member of the Christian clergy.)
A more balanced perspective is this: Because we understand that what happens in this world has eternal implications for good or for bad, we recognize the importance of life in this world and are on the front lines of bringing about positive change while at the same time resisting societal decay. This is part of what Jesus meant when he told his followers that they (we!) are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Would anyone deny that Jesus, who talked much about heaven and hell and the world to come, constantly emphasized the importance of caring for the needy in this world along with reaching out to the marginalized?
Practically speaking, because our first allegiance is to God we will serve our nation as the best possible citizens, and because our greatest affiliation is to proven, biblical values, we will identify with those values first and with a political party second.
Yet all too often, white evangelicals have given themselves to the Republican Party and black evangelicals to the Democratic Party, even when those parties have failed us. It’s time we step higher.
Yes, I will vote on November 6th, primarily backing Republican candidates, and I see voting as both a responsibility and a privilege. But, as I have written several times before, I am not putting my trust in the White House or Congress or the Supreme Court to change America. I am looking to the committed followers of Jesus to be the primary agents of change, the ultimate counter-culture, counter-establishment party.
Simply stated, if tens of millions of American Christians truly followed the teachings and example of Jesus, there would be a groundswell of compassionate and constructive care for the poor, there would be wholesale educational reform, the multiplication of strong families, a new esteem for the importance of every life, beginning in the womb, the reduction of our prison population and even the revamping of our prison system, along with economic growth and a massive increase in philanthropy, among other things.
So, yes, I’m voting on November 6th, but more than that, I’m looking for the third party to arise.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 22 books and hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire. Follow him atAskDrBrown on Facebookor @drmichaellbrownon Twitter.