Yes, you read that right. There are actually reasons to rejoice in a presidential campaign season filled with rumor, innuendo, nastiness, and vitriol from both sides. Like you, I’m a bit tired already and the campaign has hardly begun. But, I’ve been thinking that there are many silver linings in an election season. Here are five:
1) You can rejoice because you live in America and not Cuba. Think about it, nations governed by totalitarian regimes don’t feature nasty political campaigns. Nobody in Cuba or North Korea is complaining about dinner-time robo calls, nasty mailers, or grainy, fear-inducing half-true TV ads. There are no elections, real elections. Only strong-armed dictators who rule by the sword. Consider that in our country you can utter the most vitriolic statements about the current politicians in office and not get sent to jail or have your business taken away or have your family threatened with death. I hate the vitriol as much as anyone, but it’s very presence reminds us that we live in a rare time and place where freedom of speech is guaranteed.
2) You can rejoice because this seasons affords you an opportunity to be different. Even though you can utter vitriolic speech about a politician you don’t like, you don’t have to and so you have an opportunity to be different than everyone else. Because you’re a Christian, you can demonstrate what it looks like to hold staunch, truthful positions and still exhibit love and respect for those with whom you disagree. You might be the only one in your office, among your social circle, or among your social network tribe who isn’t routinely disparaging one candidate or the other. Think about that. Your winsomeness during this election season might afford opportunities for further discussion about your relationship with Jesus.
3) You are filled with constant reminders to pray for your leaders. Think about this. You don’t have to write sticky notes for your car’s dashboard or your refridgerator, reminding you to pray for the President and his opponent. Why? Because you’re inundated with reminders that they exist! This is a wonderful reminder to fulfill the biblical commands (1 Timothy 2). Just think what would happen if every Christian used every mention of the President or his opponent to stop and pray. Imagine the revival that might take place.
4) You’re reminded of the longings we have for our home in Heaven. What fuels our politics is the innate sense that things can get better in America. They are good, but not as they should be. We instinctively know that there is a better world out there. As Christians we know this longing won’t ever be fulfilled until Jesus comes as reigning King. We know no earthly leader, no political party, no platform, no movement can bring about the utopia we crave. But the craving is good. It reminds us that we’ll forever be unsettled in this fallen, sin-cursed world. Like Abraham, we long for another, better city, whose build and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). Not only should this longing drive us to deeper intimacy with Christ, our Creator, but it can provoke conversations among the lost about their own desire for utopia and in Whom that longing may be satisfied.
5) We should rejoice in the opportunity to look inward and not outward. Elections get us thinking that the problems we face are outward. If you’re a conservative, all social ills are the fault of the liberals. If you’re liberal, all social ills are the problem of conservatives. So we tag any problem with a face, the face of the politician we oppose. But as Christians, we know that the real problem with America lies in human hearts. Not just the hearts of Hollywood or Wall Street or Occupy or the Tea Party. No, the problem lies within my heart. My heart. Paul, imprisoned by the tyrannical, hedonistic butcher, Nero, nevertheless fingered himself as the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Elections afford us the opportunity to survey the vast array of social ills and their perpetrators and then turn inward and say, “No, I’m the bigger problem.” Then we can look upward and weep at the grace God affords to us through Christ.