The 2016 election season is fast approaching. It’s like Christmas; it starts earlier every year. (Kanye’s already getting into the 2020 season. I wish I was kidding.)
And with the season comes all the trimmings: straw polls, televised debates, talk of which presidential hopefuls have and haven’t a chance…and amongst Christians, which candidate (Republican, of course) might “lead our nation back to God.”
My politically-minded brothers and sisters have the right goal at heart. We desperately need revival in America.
But it is not the job of the President of the United States to lead us back to Christ.
Recently my small group has been reading Multiply by Francis Chan. It addresses an unconscious fallacy in the church: that teaching and evangelism are primarily the work of people more gifted and talented than we are. That the job of spreading the Good News belongs mostly in the hands of pastors, deacons, and those with a television audience.
It’s a crippling lie.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Jesus does not hand this commission to a handful of pre-qualified preachers while the rest wait at home, watch TV, and wait for the conversion tallies and funding requests. He hands it straight to a motley collection of fishermen, tax collectors, and doubters.
In other words, it’s not about our qualifications or our readiness to preach the gospel. It’s what God can do through the Spirit he gives. And he gives it to all of us.
No one starts out believing that it must be the job of a famous figure or President to evangelize. But we end up there nonetheless, through a slow eroding of our Christian worldview. We come to think that human mechanisms – popularity, trending, sizeable platform – are what matter.
Look – no matter who lands in the Oval Office, an unbeliever can simply switch off the acceptance speech. Hearts aren’t softened by a podium with a star-spangled banner behind it. That’s why evangelism is not the job of the President. He does not have omnipotent reach. (Will God accept “Sorry, God, I didn’t believe in you because the wrong Presidents got elected”?)
I’d even venture to say that evangelism is not the job of pastors. Not exclusively. Like the President, pastors only extend so far. They don’t have the access to your neighbor that you do. We wish they did, because we secretly fear that we’re not educated or eloquent enough. Perhap not all of us think that way. But some of us do. Just hand ’em off to the wordsmith at the pulpit and he’ll amaze them into the kingdom, right?
That is a deep misunderstanding of the Spirit’s work. It’s a misunderstanding of the heart of God and his generous offer to use the underdog! He prefers it that way, because it makes his power evident.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of a (practicing) Christian being commander-in-chief. I have to think that yielding to God’s view of things would make for better decisions. And I’m not saying God can’t use a president for revival.
But when we believe it must happen that way, we know we’ve gotten things backwards. Presidents are there to run countries (and should be evaluated on those grounds). Pastors are there to preach, but also to equip God’s evangelists.
Those evangelists are not limited to the White House. They are not confined to Capitol Hill. They are not relegated to the stage of a church.
God’s evangelists are reading this blog post right now.