You could call it the Super Bowl of politics, Trump vs. Hillary on prime-time networks. They say it was the most watched debate in history. So here we are, the next day, and everyone is arguing over who won. What did you think? Who did you declare the winner? How should Christians be processing this whole thing?
I think most would say politics and religion do not go together and should always be kept separate. I agree in terms of imposing God’s standards on a non-Christian culture (see my blog post, Is God a Republican?). But when it comes to Christian thinking and the application of God’s word to everyday life, politics is not off topic. That is “Faith in the Real World”. So how should Christians process yesterday’s lively debate?
For starters, it is important to always remember talk is cheap. Without consequences, anyone can say anything at any time even if it isn’t true. Telling people what they want to hear is only limited by the consequences that are put in place. With regard to our current political process, there are no significant consequences for any promise a presidential candidate will make.
In other words, they can say whatever people want to hear because once elected it doesn’t matter anymore. The media may try to apply some pressure, but there are no annual performance reviews where the President’s job is at stake based on prior promises. Unlike most jobs in the country, once presidents are in, they are in, unless of course there is criminal activity. So the system by definition is a breeding ground for overpromising and under-delivering. Therefore, it is important to remember that just because a presidential candidate makes a promise, it doesn’t mean it is going to happen.
So then, how should you process what was being said at a presidential debate? I believe the key in listening to anyone can be found in the counsel of Jesus.
Mark 7:20-23 – … “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Essentially, Jesus was saying actions speak louder than words. It is what comes out of a person (i.e., what they do) that gives the true picture. Yes, talk is cheap, but actions are expensive because actions have consequences. These consequences ultimately provide an audit trail of truth that follows people around their whole life and can’t be erased. Therefore, behavior is what defines the true person, not simply what one thinks or says. In fact, this issue is what the Christian life is all about (see my blog post, Beware of a Cult Now Spreading in U.S. Churches).
So as you process yesterday’s presidential debate, don’t put a lot of stock in what they have said, instead take a closer look at what they have done. How have they behaved over the past few years and has there been any consequences? The more you do this type of listening and processing, the more you will better understand who you may or may not be voting for this November.
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