I can’t help but write about what have become the most profane and disrespectful political contests I have ever witnessed. I remember, as a boy, that there seemed to be more grace and discretion in politics. Before my time, during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, most of the American public didn’t even know that he suffered from polio and spent quite a bit of time in a wheelchair. The press was respectful of the President’s personal privacy and rarely, if ever, portrayed President Roosevelt as having physical issues that could undermine his image as the invincible Chief Executive of the United States.
The press was even tolerant of the dalliances of President Kennedy with Marilyn Monroe and others, even as the country was going through the Cuban missile crisis and Bay of Pigs issues. The Nixon/Kennedy debates were the first time that we witnessed a live debate and it was clear that Kennedy presented himself in a superior light to the more experienced Nixon. The public discussion between the two candidates eventually swung the election in favor of Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic president of the United States.
Since then, the candidates and press have become even more outspoken in their assessment of their competitors and the competency of the American Public. Regardless of your political persuasion, there have been intense battles on both sides of the aisle that have not done us proud.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have vastly different views on how the country should be run. Sanders has a terrific following among younger folks, but they haven’t lived the reality yet of paying for all the programs that they would like to initiate and support. Clinton has terrible trust problems with the American public; the worst, in fact, of any candidate, and there is a strong concern about her ability to serve if she is indicted for email issues that seem to be in violation of the standards of law for the Secretary of State. Former President Clinton, himself impeached by Congress, was ultimately acquitted of the charges, but he is the only president since Andrew Johnson to suffer that action. Not his best moment…
On the Republican side of the aisle, Trump has certainly brought some liveliness to the process. He doesn’t have much of a filter, but he has caught the attention of the masses who are tired of the same old thing from traditional candidates. The establishment is having a difficult time with his brand of politics and so far, nobody can really figure out how he attracts such attention. Cruz is facing an uphill battle as well – dealing with issues of whether he is a natural born citizen and even eligible to serve as President. Interestingly, the Constitution doesn’t state that somebody has to be a natural born citizen to just run for office – only to serve in office!
Marco Rubio has become rather outspoken and has referred to Trump as a “con man” – something I have never heard from a candidate about another candidate before this election cycle. People suggested that Rubio wait his turn and get a little older before running, but he didn’t like that idea and is now fighting for his political life as he trails Trump and Cruz. At this point, he has nothing to lose by going all out. Earlier today, Mitt Romney jumped into the fray and launched his own scathing attack on Trump. But it is clear that the American public is tired of being told who to vote for and it is possible that Romney’s tactics could backfire… who knows?
Dr. Carson is absent from the debate tonight and Gov. Kasich is still in the hunt, barely, both having apparently failed to capture the hearts and imaginations of the American public. So the suspense continues and we will have to wait and see who emerges from the two political parties to vie for the office of President.
But no matter who you support, every candidate has issues of truth and honesty to improve on. There’s the old adage that “Liars figure and figures lie.” How true. Each person can put their own spin on the “facts” as they see them. Except for one case, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the embodiment of truth and, in fact, it can be argued that Jesus ranks truth right up there with love according to John, one of the original apostles and pastor of the church at Ephesus in his later years.
Satan is the one who bends or breaks the truth; making it something that isn’t in keeping with the pure truth of Jesus. And sometimes, Satan tries to get us to believe things as “truth” that are not at all true. He always falls short of the glory of God and tries to trick us with his evil ways. Kind of sounds like the arguments between the candidates, doesn’t it? Not the real truth – but perhaps a seed or kernel of truth – trying to get us to believe something that is fundamentally untrue – a form of manipulation that the American public is fed up with.
And that brings us to the words of the apostle John, one of the dedicated followers of Christ in the first century. In his third epistle, he tells us time and time again that truth is very important. There had been problems in the church and people were not adhering to honest doctrine. The deity of Christ was called into question and John addressed this issue in several of his writings. Our verse for tonight comes from 3 John 2-4, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
Notice how many times John mentions the truth? That’s important, for the Christians of the day and for us several thousand years later. My encouragement this evening is that as Christians, Jesus wants us to adhere to the truth, even if it doesn’t serve our immediate desires or gratification. My prayer is that throughout this campaign we will all be given divine wisdom to discern truth from fiction and that as we contemplate the election of our next president, we will elect someone worthy of the title and dedicated to truth, mercy and grace. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…