When King David ruled over all of Israel, one of the many Psalms he wrote included this verse: "Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing." (Psalm 146:3-4 NIV)
On Election Night last month, some TV anchors and commentators were already speculating over who would run for president in 2024 and beyond. No one ever raises the possibility that because politics and politicians have failed so miserably to solve the problems that confront us we might be placing our faith in the wrong people and a wrong place, such as Washington, D.C. It is like those false gods of wood and stone we read about in the Old Testament. They had eyes that could not see; ears that could not hear; mouths that could not speak and lacked the power to do whatever was asked of them.
Our politics is like them. Politicians can't, or are incapable of solving most problems, but many continue to place their faith in them.
The Christmas season offers an annual opportunity to push the reset button and consider a better way, a way that will demonstrably produce results that politics cannot.
Our culture tries hard to change, or ignore, the central message of Christmas, which is that God came down to rescue humanity from a condition known as sin, a condition from which we are incapable of rescuing ourselves. If we could, would we not have done so at some point in the entirety of human existence? Are not ceaseless wars, poverty, racism, and evil sufficient evidence of man's failure at self-improvement?
What Christmas offers is a present that cannot be bought, or exchanged, because it has already been paid for by someone else. Christmas offers at least two things - a changed life and a hope beyond this life. What could be better than these?
While there are many politicians who would testify to their faith in the Christmas message and the One who defines it, even if every agency of government, every court and every media outlet believed in it, that would not be enough. It's because the Christmas message is personal, not institutional.
No one is forced to believe the message, but those who do will inherit the greatest of benefits and the ultimate gift. Those who don't risk eternal consequences.
One reader of this column wrote to tell me it's all a fairy tale. What other "fairy tale" has transformed so many lives and resulted in the establishment of charities, hospitals and motivation to help the poor? Yes, there have been those who did not practice what they preached, but that is evidence of the power of a counterfeit god, not of the original and eternal One.
No power on Earth can equal right decision-making by individuals. These include living one's life according to principles laid down for us in the books of Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Proverbs, and the Sermon on the Mount. Changing politicians in Washington won't solve our basic problems or needs. Changed hearts do. That can only occur when one accepts a Higher Authority to transform and guide their lives.
If you are a skeptic, plough through the clutter and distractions of the way the world observes Christmas and reconsider the main message. The original cast is always better than the road show.