Just before the election, R.R. Reno, Senior Editor of First Things Journal published this observation on the blog AROUND THE SQUARE:
“At the end of the day, elections don’t shape or influence our cultural imaginations. On the contrary, our imaginations influence our elections, as the naive nation builders who thought that bringing elections to Iraq would transform the country discovered, much to their dismay.
As the midterm elections approach, it’s worth remembering that the future of America will turn on culture, not politics: the poetry of our moral and social imaginations, not punditry. So by all means vote, but don’t neglect the real and deeper sources of public life.”
The entire journal entry is fairly complex, but the takeway for me is clear. It is not political action that shapes a nation, it is the worldview that ultimately does so. A world view is a way of looking at how the world works – or how you believe it should work. A world view has to do with our core values. Actions (and political actions) can be manipulated and are; but deep down it is the convictions of the heart that people keep returning to. It is the ground beneath our feet.
Many Christians (and many non-Christians) are troubled by the moral decline of our nation. Things have become issues that were once settled questions. Our first tendency is to pass a law or promote a program to enforce values that we consider more moral. But if the populace (and its leaders) don’t hold those values as a conviction of their heart; the laws, policies, and rules of the community will change every election cycle.
Instead of trying to capture people’s behaviors, we need to be concerned with capturing their imagination. How would the world be different if people believed the different were better?
Paul reminded us that transformation comes from a renewed mind which is the product a renewed heart (Romans 12:1). That is what produces more praiseworthy behaviors and a nation that is strong.
How do you renew the mind of a nation? By renewing its heart and mind. Maybe we need to spend more time loving our neighbor than lobbying them. Maybe we need to spend more time living consistently by all of God’s values instead of trying to embed them in the law books. Maybe we need to be the salt and light that Jesus declared all Christians to be. Salt that retains its flavor because it is full of the Spirit. Salt that is ruled by the law of love so that it does not become destructively salty. Light that brings illumination to a people living in darkness simply because it shines undimmed in the darkness instead of demanding the spotlight.
No matter who is in “power”, Christians live by the power of God – standing with Him and for Him but letting the battle truly be His; instead of just one more crusade to preserve our earthly preferences.
(C) 2010 by Stephen L. Dunn