Another election is over. More change is on the way. But what about hope? Will the changes brought about by this mid-term election bring hope? For many, the answer to this question is, “Well, we hope so.” In this sense, yesterday’s election is like every other election. Political change creates hope, but it seldom delivers satisfying change. Not unexpectedly, the aftermath of the 2010 elections offers as much uncertainty as it does hope. One reason for this is that political hope is based upon the ability of people to deliver on promises that are impossible for them to fulfill. Hope in the wisdom and plans of men in a fallen world will always disappoint. True hope only comes from the Lord of heaven and earth.
Think back with me to the Wednesday after the 2000 elections. The Republicans had won both houses of Congress. The outcome of the presidential election was not settled. After several weeks of scrutiny of hanging chads, the Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for George W. Bush to become the 43rd President of the United States. Many were ecstatic. Republicans had control of both houses of Congress, and a professed evangelical Republican would be President. The future seemed bright. However, over the years hope faded. Ultimately, the high hopes for the Bush years were misplaced. Man cannot deliver what only God can provide.
Political hope is not the genuine hope offered by Christ. The hope that is offered through the political process must be seen for what it is—a belief that the plans of men can produce change that will be for our good and solve our country’s problems. The problem is that politicians, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, are only people. And people have a common problem—they are sinners. They are either living in outright rebellion to God, or they are believers struggling with the sin that remains in them. While it is true that God in his mighty power superintends the whole political process for his glory, true hope comes from only one source:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. 1 Peter 1:3-4a.
Here is the difference between genuine hope and politically-based hope: genuine hope never changes. What is offered in Christ is hope that does not change and will never fade. Political hope will always be connected to changing the problems caused by the previous opponent. Voters in 1992, 2000 and 2008 voted to change the then current political landscape. But their hopes died quickly. The political process is driven by people that lack the living hope of the gospel. This means that even if political solutions are good ones they will only be temporary and fade quickly away. This is borne out a Scott Rasmussen poll out this morning that 59% of Americans believe that the Republican controlled House will disappoint most voters by 2012.
The words of Peter must replace the volatile hope that is offered by the political process. You may be appropriately pleased or displeased by the election results, but your countenance should still reflect the blessed reality of the living hope you have in Christ. Your children should see this hope making a difference in your life. We should not expect more of politics than we do of Christ. Hope offered by the institutions of this world is always short-lived at best. Therefore, your children should be able to observe real hope in you, hope that lasts. They should see a hope that is not dashed by the flawed actions of men who do not trust in Christ. Political change will always be offered as a basis for hope. That hope is a false pretender; genuine, living hope has been secured for you by Jesus Christ. This hope leads to change that matters.