Messiah for President

November 28, 2011

Trying to get elected President sure isn’t the way it used to be.

Sure, throughout American history, politicians have almost always needed stacks of cash, connections to business tycoons, a soap box and testicles.  We’ve recently relaxed that last requirement.

But that’s about the only requirement that’s been relaxed.  Sure, American politics have always been dirty.  But watching this year’s campaign heat up with the continual swirl of accusations of moral impurity and past transgressions has made me realize something.

We have set a really high standard.  We expect a hell of a lot of our public leaders.  We all think that’s a good thing.  Maybe it’s not…

Expect to Get Borked

Can you believe that FDR was able to occupy the White House for over a decade, and was able to keep his polio illness a secret from the public?  The press actually agreed to not publish pictures of him being lifted out of his wheelchair, or other compromising situations.  Unbelievable!

If you plan to go into politics today, don’t plan on being treated so nicely.  Whether you’re a paraplegic or you have a skeleton in the closet, expect your trash to be picked through, your dirty laundry aired, and every sin exposed.  Expect to get “borked.”  If you may have sexually harassed a couple of women, or you had an affair before becoming a Catholic, your political career may end at town comptroller.

Messiah or Satan

I don’t know when we got this idea that a politician’s past sins are unforgivable.  It certainly didn’t apply to the Kennedys.  But the American voting public is kind of stupid and naive these days.  We want all or nothing.  We want purity in thought, word and deed.

We want…a Messiah.

That’s it.  We want a Messiah, some angelic politician as pure and gentle and wise and clean shaven as the Lord Jesus Christ who can save us all from our misery.  The godless liberals won’t admit it.  The “Christian” right will try to disguise it as voting for Jesus.

But we’re not voting for Jesus and his politics.  The left and the right have given up on Jesus and his teachings.  So we need a new Messiah.  We expect a politician to redeem America.  We want perfection.

And if a politician isn’t the Messiah, then of course, he must be Satan.

There are only two possibilities.  Either you are as clean and pure as a dove descending from heaven with the very words of God.  Or you are a demonic poltergeist from the bowels of hell, sent to destroy America.

Barack Obama: Messiah or Satan?

George W. Bush: Messiah or Satan?

See what I mean?  Most people you ask will think those guys are one or the other.

The Most Trusted Person in Town

It used to be that a pastor was the most trusted man in town.  People believed what pastors said.  They believed that pastors had good intentions and were more ethical than they were.  People believed that pastors and priests had special connections to God.

And then the clergy collectively blew it.

Pastors aren’t the most trusted guys in town.  People know that they’re imperfect, just like anyone else.  Sometimes they’re really imperfect.  A lot of people have come to expect the worst from pastors.  People think they’re all charlatans or money-grubbers or pedophiles.  And the God they represent must not be any better.

Politicians have taken the place of the pastor.  Government is now the altar where citizens worship and bring their tithes.  Separation of church and state?  They are one and the same.  And no matter how hard we look, we’re not going to find anyone who’s completely perfect.  If you’re looking for a group of men who’ve never done anything dumb in the name of sex, then you’re an idiot.  If you’re looking for a group of women who have forever resisted the allure of money, then I’m surprised that you can even read this.  If you still think any politician can solve every problem, then you are the reason the founding fathers created the electoral college.

What say you?  Are we looking too hard for a Messiah?  Should have have super high standards, or are we just being naive?

20 responses to Messiah for President

  1. Hi Matt,

    Nothing like politics to get me in the Christmas spirit today.

    So here’s my two-cents:

    The top dog king of the world in the days of the apostles was a guy named Nero, who lit the roman roads with burning Christians tied to lamp posts.

    The apostles viewed him as God’s appointed King.

    Nero was the man Paul had in mind when he wrote in I Timothy 2, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority…For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour”.

    Nero was the top man when Peter wrote “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men”.

    What were the apostles thinking of!

    Didn’t they know big government is bad?

    I think that they realized that we already have a Messiah in overall charge of everything.

    But, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”. I think when He said that, He was issuing a disclaimer.

    Yes, we ought to vote according to the light given us. Then shut up and get on leading a respectable, God-fearing life, minding our own business.

    A temptation is to expect politicians, activists, demonstrators, occupiers, Christians, etc. to “improve” society, to make this world as nice a place as possible for people to go to Hell from.

    That’s not what we are here for.


  2. In the words of Derek Webb, we will never have a savior on the Hill, so I stopped looking for one. I just vote who I think will best represent me and my concerns.

  3. You might enjoy the song “Christ for President” by Woody Guthrie.

  4. Really insightful, Matt – I am going to agree with you on all accounts.

    We have our god political correctness. And even then, the US doesn’t seem to really care about sexual transgressions; we proved that with Clinton. They don’t care about economics we proved that with Bush and Obama. They don’t care about godly principals; they have proved that with stances on abortion and capital punishment for decades. No, most voters care about perceived agendas and believe their favorite media outlet – so they vote on whatever gives them the immediate benefit to them. Amazingly, for most candidates, you can look at their voting records and find out more than they will ever say.

    And my last gripe is the so-called Christian candidate. How could we ever have one when the church can’t agree on same-sex marriage, abortion, war, feeding the poor, and the color of hymnals? Then they get a candidate like Romney who is more conservative than some of the others who wave the right denominational banner, and toss him out.

    And worse, we can’t find anything sensible to solve gun rights, illegal immigration and spending. It’s all or nothing: take away all the guns, or give everyone a gun; throw out illegals, or let them all in; give the government all the money they can barrow, or cut everything from the budget.

    I think Christians need to say why they believe in their issue – I mean issue a statement! Then, back it up with Bible regardless of a candidate’s party.

    To answer your question, we are trying to find the one thing that causes someone not to vote for a candidate, instead of finding the candidate that can do the job.

    • I think the problem of “Christian” candidates stem from Christians making themselves a voting bloc to be placated. You’re right, when we can’t agree on anything, how productive is it for a candidate to try to grab all of us?

  5. Hey Matt,

    I never really thought of electing a president in that way before, but now that I have I can see a lot of truth in it. I kind of wonder if the desire for a Messiah as you put it, is a collective one or a want that each person innately has for their leader. I’m really not sure, because I’ve never been one to worry too much about someone’s past, especially if it was a long time ago.

  6. Well done, Matt. We have a hard time remembering which Kingdom it is we need to hope for…may we hope in the Christ – just not in our politics!

  7. The Master said, You are the light of the world. Talking politics generates heat, not light; and until we start teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ we are not the light we are designated to be.

    So nearly as I can tell, we were not called to be political activists.

    • Ah but others would say that’s exactly what we’re called to be! And how do you define activism? For some, activism is standing up for justice, a godly pursuit, right? :)

    • We are supposed to seek first the Kingdom of God. In my book that does not mean that we go and be nice to somebody and ignore the national (or local scene). Christians did this for a few decades in the US and it quickly changed the spiritual landscape of our country. Even Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe” of Roe v Wade) had a change of heart over abortion, but it was too late.

      I am very politically active, and I would like to leave a country for my kids in which they have freedoms which my family has fought for.

      The problem with saying Jesus would do this, and Jesus would do that is that he lived under the Old Covenant (fulfillment of the law); we live under the new. in it grace and freedom from the law. He can to accomplish an eternal purpose, not set up another ‘do this’ and ‘don’t do that’ religion. And the grace and freedom that we have been given, is a good reason to pass it on.


  8. I first really saw this during the election of Obama. People didn’t really look at his issues…it was the image being sold to them. He was basically put in an image of being a coming messiah. People bought it completely. Now, the Republicans want to do that with someone to say they’re the anointed one to get rid of the false messiah the Democrats offered to them.

    This is why I’m so sick of politics.

    • It’s too bad because I genuinely love politics but I hate all the politicking. It’s just become so extreme that you almost have to ignore it. It’s just too much to take in.

    • Well, I can’t speak for other Obama supporters, but this one voted for him because it was either that or have Sarah Palin be one melanoma recurrence away from the Presidency.

      I know it’s all hip & trendy these days to blame Obama’s victory on him pulling some kind of Jedi mind trick on a bunch of stupid hippies, but I personally voted for him because the Repubs had their chance for 8 years and they screwed the pooch. And instead of doing the logical thing, like trying to find the problems in their own party that had driven so many moderates away, they took an even sharper right turn into Wackyland and blamed their losses on “the liberal media”.

      Look, I voted for Bush the first time around. I’d love to vote Republican again, but could they JUST MAYBE quit depending on endorsements from Rush Limbaugh and nominate somewhat who ISN’T a complete maniac?

      Sorry to go off topic, but I just wanted to get that out there.

  9. Great post Matt. I’ve long given up on politicians saving the world. I, like you, love politics, but this is ridiculous this year! If we want to see change, it is going to come through people working in the power of God.

    I recently listened to a podcast about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and he saw the dangers of Hitler before almost anyone else did. Two days after being elected Chancellor, Bonhoeffer got on the radio and warned everyone of the dangers of trusting a politician to be their savior when Germany, and the rest of the world, only had one true savior.

  10. My apologies if I’ve written this here before, but here goes–

    I realized some time ago that there is only one type of guy (or gal) that goes into politics.

    That type of guy is the guy you knew in college that was planning on going into politics. Remember that guy? He was usually a poli sci major (maybe a business dual major) and he was always running for student council president? Acted like he was best buds with everyone on campus and always had all kinds of plans for how he was going to make campus life better for everybody?

    Oh, yeah, I remember that guy. He was also the guy who liked to throw keggers in the dorm room just below mine on Thursday nights when I had a test the next day. They usually involved about 15 of his best buds, in matching backwards baseball hats, all smoking cigars and playing Smashmouth on the stereo at about 900 dB. Good times. Whenever I see someone running for office, I always think of this guy.

    Think about it–the massive amount of hubris that it must take to even presume that you could run one of the most complex nations in the world and leave it better than when you started.

    The guys that really honestly want to change the world and help people aren’t running for president. They’re leading churches or working in science labs or writing books or teaching kids to read. To put all your faith in someone who is basically a glorified frat boy is just naive.

  11. Good post. Others in the thread have hinted at it, but I think that our central dilemma centers on what George Eldon Ladd called “the already and the not yet” of the kingdom of heaven.

    Yes, we want a messiah, of course we do. For the people of God, we have one…sort of. As people living in the awkward tension of abiding by the ethics of a yet unseen kingdom, we constantly run into the sharp edges of a world groaning for redemption. And to make it easier on ourselves, we quietly exchange the difficult tension of the kingdom for the easy way out – placing the responsibility for human flourishing on our political or cultural leaders.

    We’ll never find a perfect leader for our nation or our community in the bloated, exploitative system of American politics. We can’t even one who lives up to his or her promises.

    Bu that should only make us more eager for the day that the “not yet” of the kingdom breaks into the full dawn of the “already.” And the “already” is among us now.

  12. Very thought provoking. On the one hand, I believe that we should have the same standards for our elected officials as we have for elders in church–if they aren’t good dads and faithful husbands, why should we let them lead us? Character does matter in any form of leadership, in my view. There are a few caviots, some quid pro quos to this line of thinking, however. First of all, has someone truly repented and changed as a result of their experience, in a Paul vs. Saul kind of way? In fact, didn’t Paul tell the Corinthians to accept a repentant brother who had caused a lot of trouble in their church and was involved in some “big time” sin? Secondly, if we hold our leaders to these standards, then we also should hold ourselves to the same standard. Don’t like that Herman Cain is cheating on his wife? Then don’t involve yourself in pornography or romance novels/movies (female version of porn). Don’t like the way the government is handling the poor and our money? Then spend more of your money helping them or supporting private organizations to help them so that they won’t need government assistance.

  13. Matt…
    You did it again!
    Engaging, relevant, thought provoking… the truth!
    Jesus couldn’t pastor a church today, he couldn’t win a political campaign… We are broken and confused as a culture!

    Thank you for helping us see what we are doing!