Don’t Waste The Next 96 Days

tv outside of house

Here’s a bit of good news about the 2016 Election – 97 days from now, it’ll be over.  In the mean time, it seems to be the only thing people are talking about, at least here in DC.  We simply can’t help ourselves.  We’re caught in this horrible trap of political rubbernecking…slowing down the progress of our lives to look at the wreck that is this election.

As I continue this short series of posts on the three traps followers of Jesus need to avoid in this election cycle, I want to ask the basic question, “Is this really how you want to spend the next 96 days of your life?”  Don’t get me wrong – there will be plenty to keep us entertained.  Trump will say thousands of outlandish, silly and downright ignorant things.  At some point, Bill Clinton will be unable to control himself and he’ll jump in with a few soundbites of his own.  Hillary will plod through questions about email, judgement and what drives her.  The real issues facing our country will be ignored as we struggle through the most substance free campaign in American history.  We’ll get to hear about affairs, Playboy covers, corruption, greed, bankruptcies and countless other topics.  The debates will be a circus – think Jerry Springer, but with less emotional maturity.

And this is what we’re going to do as a country for the next 96 days?

Yesterday, I wrote about avoiding the trap of division.  Today, I want to take aim at the trap of distraction.  And I want to do it in the spirit of Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  I just can’t believe that the best use our time is following the daily drama of this election. Should we be informed voters?  Absolutely.  Should we educate ourselves on candidates and issues?  Yes.  Should we waste time with the sideshow dramas?  No.

 

Imagine what God could do with the next 96 days of your life if you devoted them relentlessly to making the best use of your time.  Where would He have you direct your focus?  Your relationship with Him?  Your marriage?  Kids?  Friends?  Your health?  What adventures is He calling you to?  What books could you be reading?  What relationship needs attention?

There are so many things I need to be focused on in my life.  I don’t want to waste the next 3 months being distracted by a sideshow carnival.  I promise you this.  God’s agenda for you in the next 96 days is far greater than simply deciding who you’re going to vote for.

Let’s get our heads out of the drama and into the game!

Hillary, Donald & Division

Flag in Field

Well, it’s official. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the major party nominees for the Presidency of the United States of America. What seemed like such a joke a year ago has become reality. And, like most Americans, I find myself fluctuating between disbelief, horror and embarrassment. If you happen to be a genuine fan of either one, fine, but it seems like the nicest thing I ever hear about either one is that they’re the lesser of two evils.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a political junkie. I was a government major in college and follow politics the same way others follow sports. I care about this stuff, it fascinates me and I believe it matters. So, I’m a guy with strong political opinions. But I do my best to keep them out of the pulpit and off social media. That’s partly because I believe the gospel is the central issue for all of our lives and the message God has called me to proclaim. And it’s partly because I pastor a church in Washington, DC made up of people with a wide range of political beliefs. But, increasingly, I’ve felt the need to say something. Not in spite of the two factors I just mentioned but because of them.

I’m determined to avoid three traps in this election cycle: division, distraction and despair. By God’s grace, I would like to lead our church away from these traps as well. So, I’m going to blog about avoiding those traps this week and then I’m going to move on and do my best to avoid them for the next 97 days.

Trap number one is the one I’m most concerned about: division.

I’m talking about division in the church based on which candidate we support. I believe Satan would love nothing more than to use this election as one more issue to divide the bride of Christ. And I believe a lot of Christian leaders are taking the bait. We all do it anytime we say something along the lines of, “I can’t understand how a real follower of Jesus could support Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump/a 3rd party candidate/a write in candidate/not voting.” We have got to understand that well meaning, Jesus loving Christians are going to differ with one another in this election. Just last week, Wayne Grudem wrote an essay advocating for Donald Trump and Randy Alcorn wrote against him. Over the last months, Thabiti Anyabwile has written in support of Hillary Clinton. Russell Moore has written extensively about voting 3rd party. And the list goes on and on.

In recent years, it’s become increasingly difficult to find an obvious candidate for Christians to support.  That is certainly true this year.  Hillary Clinton’s positions on abortion and same sex marriage but her on the wrong side of Scripture. Donald Trump’s positions on immigrants and refuges do the same. Both have alarming character flaws. Both have long track records of questionable judgment. To pretend that one is the obvious choice is to misunderstand just how inadequate they both are. So, come November, there are going to be people so horrified by Donald Trump’s ineptness that they vote for Clinton to keep him out of office. There are going to be people so concerned about the future of the Supreme Court that they vote for Trump. There are going to be people so fed up with both that they vote 3rd party, write someone in or don’t vote.  And there will be some who enthusiastically vote for Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump.

We’re all going to have to figure it out for ourselves based on one simple question, “Who is going to do the most good and the least harm to our country over the next four years?” We’re not all going to answer that question the same way and that’s ok.

I’m not saying the decision doesn’t matter. It does. But it shouldn’t divide us. The real tragedy in all of this would be allowing two candidates to divide the church. We can disagree politically, especially this year, and stay united in Jesus and the mission He’s given us. So, maybe it’s time to tone it down on social media. Maybe it’s time for thoughtful conversations with friends. Maybe it’s time to ask the Lord for wisdom. Maybe it’s time to ease up on each other just a bit.

And we have to if we’re going to avoid the trap of distraction. We’ll tackle that one tomorrow.