The BOTTOM LINE is that many Americans DO NOT trust the electoral process, their elected leaders, or those with whom they disagree.
You cannot look at the 2020 election as an isolated event. The facts are that: 1) after the 2000 election, only 18 percent of Democrats said George W. Bush won fairly, 2) after the 2016 election, 66 percent of Democrats believed that Russia hacked the election, and 3) Now 67 percent of Republicans believe the 2020 election was “rigged.” From the Republican perspective, they are confused as to why Democrats are allowed to disagree with election results and they are not. The system feels rigged against them – on purpose. Meanwhile, Republicans don’t really understand why Democrats are upset.
One unsavory truth is that neither side cares what the other side believes, wants, or desires. It is their way or the highway. Therefore, when one side speaks out, the other side cuts them off, refuses to listen, or cusses them out during the attempt. This adds fuel to the brewing fire. But, there is a Way! If only we would choose to RISE above the chaos that surrounds us. I am speaking to myself just as much as I am others.
If we cannot trust the electoral system, it’s hard to trust the leaders it elects. In a day when many have made institutions into platforms for personal celebrity and advancement, servant leaders are in short supply. In a time when social media gives everyone a platform by which to broadcast their opinions while listening only to those with whom they agree, discernment goes missing. In a culture where we see those with whom we disagree as the enemy, forgiveness and grace are scarce. I have always had an issue with the “echo chamber”, but I have nonetheless participated – so have most of you.
However, let’s be clear: explaining what apparently drove the rioters is no excuse for their behavior. What we saw Wednesday was abhorrent and sinful. God’s call is clear: “Put away violence and oppression, and execute justice and righteousness” (Ezekiel 45:9). We are told, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling” (1 Peter 3:9). But so was the violence and rioting that took place in 2020, it doesn’t matter what your context is. Many justified the rioting in 2020 as people airing their frustration, their pain, and their fear of the future. The rioting at the Capital on 5 Jan 2021 can also be justified the same way, but this time from the other side of the fence. You CANNOT support and praise violence/rioting on one side while condemning the other -this is self-serving as anti-unifying as stipulated in the Bible.
The late Chuck Colson (White House Council to President Nixon) noted: “People who cannot restrain their own baser instincts, who cannot treat one another with civility, are not capable of self-government.” He added: “Without virtue, a society can be ruled only by fear, a truth that tyrants understand all too well.” Where do we, as a nation, get our virtue? Is there a common moral code that binds virtues together for people? Only the Bible does that but, unfortunately, our moral codes in society are being driven by the fleeting, and ever changing, emotions and opinions of man – and this is doomed to fail.
Why should I, a Christian, get involved?
One of the things that I find disappointing and frustrating within the boundaries of the Church and other Christians, is their evoking of Romans Chapter 13 in reference to submission to authority. They argue that it is unbiblical to get involved in “worldly” affairs when we are focused on “Kingdom” affairs. I believe this is a cop out by Christians due to fear and uncertainty. I also believe this is an unbiblical view. It is true that getting involved is stressful, and many doubt that they can make an impact. The result is that they remain within their Christian chamber, speaking to each other, sharing their thoughts and opinions on issues – meanwhile, it is the people outside of their circle that need to hear from them. So, “In light of the Capitol riots, what would you say to those who are wondering why they should get involved in our broken culture?”
My response focuses on two items: because God says to, and because seeking to change the culture changes us for the best.
Jesus said to us, “You are the salt of the earth.” However, salt is no help if it stays in the saltshaker. Salt seasons meat when it is applied to it, not be remaining in the salt shaker sitting still on the table. Christianity is an incarnational faith—just as Jesus incarnated himself in his earthly body, so he incarnates himself in us (1 Corinthians 12:27). Now we are commissioned to “go” and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), beginning in our Jerusalem and continuing to the “end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Retreating from the challenges of our day is therefore not a biblical option for Christians. I suggest that the silence of the Church is a large reason our nation is in its current predicament.
Christian engagement is vital to the abundant life Jesus intends for us (John 10:10). The Holy Spirit empowers us to the degree that we are willing to fulfill God’s purpose as his witnesses (Acts 1:8). To experience our best, most blessed life, we must be most fully obedient to our Lord’s missional call to our culture.
How can I, a Christian, make a difference?
“Can Christians change our broken culture? If so, how?”
I believe the answer resides in four imperatives from Scripture.
One: Repent personally.
Jesus asked, “If the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” Our Lord’s question requires us to ask ourselves: In light of the Capitol riots, what sins should I confess?
This doesn’t mean that you condoned or participated in what happened in Washington. But are you sinning with regard to our nation and culture in other ways? Have you used social media and other platforms to slander (Psalm 101:5), gossip (Proverbs 16:28), or condemn (James 4:11)? Have you been as proactive in influencing your culture as you should be?
Nehemiah confessed the sins of his people even though he had not committed them personally (Nehemiah 1:4–10). His solidarity with his nation should model our solidarity with ours.
Two: Intercede passionately.
We are called to pray for our leaders, even (and especially) when we disagree with them (1 Timothy 2:1–2). This was the immediate response of many Christian leaders to the violence in Washington and should be ours as well. I am personally guilty of this one and have repented of it.
Do you know the names of your governor, mayor, city council, and local school board? Are you praying every day for God to lead, protect, empower, and use them?
Three: Speak graciously.
Part of getting our “salt” out of the saltshaker is speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). As we noted, slander and gossip are sins. But speaking biblical truth to the issues and souls we encounter is a gift of eternal grace. I am grossly guilty of this one as my personal anxiety tends to bring the soldier out of me. This is not an excuse, it is a gap that I am working to overcome.
Four: Act redemptively.
As I repeatedly argued that I believe that God is calling more Christians into public service than are answering his call. Where can you begin? What difference can you make where you live? What larger mission is the Lord calling you to serve? Christians MUST stop evoking Romans Chapter 13, shaming and guilting Christians from getting involved in public service. In fact, Christians ought to be involved in ALL areas of the seven mountains of influence, not to build a Theocracy, but as a participant – but ONLY if this is God’s calling on your life.
The late evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry noted, “The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.” So, ask yourself this question, “How can I get the gospel into culture today?”