Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Most Important Election?

“This is the most important presidential election in our lifetime” has been the mantra from political, evangelical and cultural leaders in the current vote-harvesting cycle.

Maybe, but if so, it is for reasons other than who will or won’t raise our taxes, or nominate strict or loose constructionists to the Supreme Court, or provide noble leadership in our ongoing worldwide terrorism crisis.

This election, like all elections, is a time for sober personal and cultural introspection. The questions that we ought to be asking are these: Is voting enough? If we overwhelmingly fill the offices of civic responsibility with good people, will that suffice?

The answer is obvious, or should be: “Of course not.”Jacques Ellul once noted that the antidote to thinking that bigger and better government will save us from all woes is small, voluntary groups of activists once described by Edmund Burke as “little platoons.” These small groups – whether they were Sunday School classes, cell groups, para-church organizations or families bent on living for something other than their own happiness – were once the backbone of national greatness then, and can be today.

These groups today ought to form to evangelize, perform compassionate deeds and oppose injustice in some particular corner of the state and nation where they live.

A nation crumbles without them. In an election cycle, Americans (and particularly evangelicals) ought to be reminded once again that the Kingdom of God does not fly in on Air Force One. To be sure, we want a man of moral strength to assume the White House and further, the same kind of people to fill our legislative bodies and the judicial benches of our country. But even more essential to the health of our nation is the electorate; what will we do – really do – once we know that babies are still being slaughtered in the womb by the hundreds of thousands each year regardless of who gets elected? Or that pornography addiction marches on? Or that our prisons are filled to the outer edges with lost men and women?. Or that the nursing homes are still full of forgotten people. The list, of course, continues for pages.

Will little platoons rally? Or will we be too occupied with who is lining up to assume a race for the White House in 2008? I am unconvinced that this is the most consequential presidential election of our time. I am absolutely convinced that even if it is, it still matters little if the people of God are not activated from our seeming stupor to challenge the immorality of this nation.

John Wesley once said: "Give me one hundred [people] who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of Hell and establish the kingdom of heaven upon earth."So – perhaps the most salient inquiry of these days before the election: Are there a hundred out there ready to go?


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