“Go in peace,” Elisha said. After Naaman had traveled some distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” (II King 5:19-20)
Gehazi, it's time to walk away. We've got other work to do.
4. Vote quickly to rid yourself of distraction.
I normally wait until Election Day itself –this year: Tuesday, Nov 8—to vote. I like the festive feel and the communal proliferation of “I Voted” stickers on people’s lapels. But this year, I am going to try and vote on the first day of advanced voting (October 19 in Riley County, KS). As a whole, we as a nation need to get the election of 2016 behind us as quickly as possible so that we can get busy working on the brokenness that the campaign of 2016 has revealed. We can’t wait until Election Day in November, or Inauguration Day in January, or “Correct Our Mistake Day” four years from now.
Voting quickly can be a relief. Given the freedom we have in Christ and the grace we have with God (see previous installments of this guide), too much angst in choosing between the seven options can be a waste of energy. Give yourself a break; get it over with as soon as you possibly can. Voting quickly can also be a statement: some distasteful tasks are best dispatched swiftly so that we can get on to more consequential labor.
Republicans will want to get busy reforming under a new hashtag: #NeverAgainTrump.
Democrats will not want to delay in reaching out to Millennials: #NeverSuperdelegates.
And we know that it is almost impossible to work on a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United in the money-grubbing desperation of an election year.
Such reforms however pale in contrast to the monumental task which we evangelical Christians must undertake. Polls suggest, as does the mathematics of the Electoral College, that Hillary Clinton will likely defeat Donald Trump in November. (If this must be grieved, then let it be grieved.) Despite many defections since the release of Trump’s language of sexual assault tape, polls also indicate however that Trump is likely to win the so-called “white evangelical vote.” It would be understandable if any high percentage of evangelical Christian supporters remaining was simply the outworking of hundreds of thousands of troubled consciences—“damned if you do, damned if you don’t--but evangelical voting was led, misguidedly and occasionally manipulatively, by the old guard of the Religious Right who, in my opinion, seemed to choose the blandishments of Money, Sex, and Power—especially power—over the spirit of the Gospel.
Reform begins with repentance. We each bring our hearts to God with the humble prayer of examen, and ask him to reveal what each of us brought (or failed to bring) to our current state of affairs. God is generous and he is satisfied with the atonement of his son’s sacrifice. Surely, he will examine our hearts with gentleness and woo us to the Cross. If we have said a harsh word to another person in the heat of 2016, did not speak the truth in love, or knowingly perpetrated a lie for argumentative advantage, then we should seek out that person or persons and ask for forgiveness. Just this week, two different people have approached me in order to confront me. (I’m having lunch with one on Friday and coffee with the other in November; these things are always best done in person.) Please, others are also welcome. I give you full permission to say anything you feel you need to say to me about the beam in my own eye—though, by that time you may need to be the one to pick up the coffee tab.
Reform will also lead us to forgiving others, and I do believe God will not nurture reform without it involving forgiveness one to another. Theologian Wayne Grudem, whom I have written about in these pages, has withdrawn his support of Donald Trump as the previously endorsed “moral choice” of 2016. Other leaders—Falwell? Dobson? Garlow? Graham? Metaxas? Reed? Perkins?—may also peel away. Regardless, to the extent to which the machinations of these men have brought discredit to American evangelicals, we should seek the same grace that God gives to us, to forgive them. We can then commend them to their retirements; we will not be looking to them in the future.
And then we take up our new task. What is that new task? I’ll write about how I see it in the next and penultimate installment of the Naaman’s Voters Guide for 2016. Here’s a hint though:
Donald Trump vows to “Make America Great Again.”
Hillary Clinton said during the second debate: “America is great, because America is good.”
Both statements fail the Fact Check test, and both candidates speak the Lie that belies both the conservative movement and the progressive one. In a simple rhyming prayer, every little child affirms who alone is great and who alone is good, and intuitively knows that there is only one main thing Americans are called to be: thankful.