A lot of Christians voted yesterday, and I was one of them. But I’m not that excited about it. Today the election results meant that the talking heads are talking their heads off, and many Christians are taking sides. My inbox is full of warnings of what will happen to the Kingdom of God because this or that candidate won or lost. The Facebook wars between believers left and right are in full offensive mode. And when I say offensive I mean it in all of its nuances.
Am I the only Christian with election hangover?
Here are some words from Phil Yancey that help me. I couldn’t have said it better. (Well, few can say it better than Phil Yancey):
Fumes of Ungrace
How is it that Christians called to dispense the aroma of grace instead emit the noxious fumes of ungrace? In the modern United States, one answer to that question springs readily to mind. The church has allowed itself to get so swept up in political issues that it plays by the rules of power, which are rules of ungrace. In no other arena is the church at greater risk of losing its calling than in the public square.
I fully support the right, and indeed the responsibility, of Christians to get involved politically: in moral crusades such as abolition, civil rights, and anti-abortion, Christians have led the way. And I believe the media grossly exaggerates the “threat’ posed by the religious right. The Christians I know who are involved in politics bear little resemblance to their caricatures. Nevertheless I do worry about the recent tendency for the labels “evangelical Christian” and “religious right” to become interchangeable. Political cartoons who show that Christians increasingly are perceived as rigid moralists who want to control others’ lives.
I know why some Christians are acting ungraciously: out of fear. We feel under attack in schools, in courts, and sometimes in Congress. Meanwhile we see around us the kind of moral change that marks society’s decay. In such categories as crime, divorce, youth suicide, abortion, drug use, children on welfare, and illegitimate births, the United States outranks every other industrialized country. Social conservatives feel more and more like an embattled minority, their values under constant attack.
How can Christians uphold moral values in a secular society while at the same time conveying a spirit of grace and love? As the psalmist expressed it, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Behind the gruffness of many Christians with strong opinions, I’m sure, lies a deep concern for a world that has little place for God. Yet I also know that, as Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees, a concern for moral value alone is not nearly enough. Moralism apart from grace solves little.
—What’s So Amazing About Grace? (229-30)
Thank you, Phil Yancey. I needed that this morning with my horrible, pounding, pre-election hangover.