Balloons and buttons, banners and boring speeches, hoopla, hype and hopefulness all rolled into one event. Every four years since the 1830s the United States has been holding national political conventions to elect Democratic and Republican nominees for President.
It is that time” again in our country’s political life, but most Americans seem to be greeting these spectacles with a giant collective yawn. Television executives fight with party leaders over how much convention coverage they are obligated to broadcast, knowing that the conventions aren’t so much news events as they are giant pep rallies—and ratings will plummet accordingly. The party faithful may get excited, but most of America does not.
Well, we in Jews for Jesus are excited because the conventions are are taking place in Boston and New York city, where we have branches. We can’t pass up the opportunity to participate—not as delegates but as evangelists. We plan to be outside on the street corners handing out literature, talking to whomever we can, seeking to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to both Democrats and Republicans.
Despite the cynicism politicians face these days, the political process itself does attempt to offer the possibility of change, the promise of a better tomorrow. There are always moments of hope during these conventions as men and women articulate those possibilities and promises—moments that tap into the deeper aspirations of humankind.
As believers in Jesus, we recognize that hope as a longing for something deeper, higher, more noble…a longing for God. But “conventional wisdom” focuses people’s hope on other things. Perhaps it’s a personal story told from the podium—how someone triumphed over adversity to improve their own lot in life and the lives of others. Or maybe hope is held forth in the soaring rhetorical flourish of one of the better speeches (why do they seem so few and far between?). But the highlight of hopefulness is supposed to be that one climactic moment when all the delegates have cast their votes and the candidate of choice strides to the podium to declare, “I accept your nomination for President of the United States.” The candidate lays out his party platform, his plan for the future, for the cheering, flag-waving crowd and for the cameras. The promise of a better tomorrow seems so real, the hope for change and justice so strong.
Yet it seems that such “conventional wisdom” is doomed to disappoint us. Political efforts, even those based on the best human intentions, will inevitably fail us all—because they plant confidence in the human spirit, not the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, the problems of this world are not political but spiritual in nature and they require spiritual solutions. No amount of human nobility can overcome our basic problem. The Bible says, “The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no not one” (Psalm 14:2,3).
This does not mean we should not bother to exercise wisdom in choosing the best leaders we can. We ought to seek the Lord for wisdom and guidance and vote accordingly, taking comfort that it is ultimately the Lord who “removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:21). But in the end, the human longing for “something better” cannot be satisfied by any political party or politician. Alexander Pope wrote,
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come
An Essay on Man, Epistle I
Pope’s poetry describes how the soul yearns for something, someone yet to come. This eternal hope is not in a leader we can elect; He chooses us to be His followers. And He invites us to celebrate at His victory rally. The Apostle John recorded his amazing glimpse into this greatest “convention.” First of all, there is the nomination of our future leader:
Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as though it had been slain.… Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…”
John then describes all the “delegates” as they celebrate the nomination of this great leader:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Instead of straw hats, buttons and balloons, conventioneers will be wearing white robes and waving palm branches. There will be no boring speeches and no yawning! All will be shouting ecstatic praise to God and to the Lamb, reveling in the hope of the future He has promised. And why shouldn’t they be excited? Check out the platform for those elected to serve and follow this leader:
They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Because Jesus the Lamb paid for our sin with His own blood, He is the only One who can provide genuine solutions to the deepest human predicaments. No other leader is a redeemer. Because Jesus purchased our salvation, His leadership will succeed where all others fail. He is our ultimate and rightful Ruler. Our souls will remain uneasy until we find our home in Him who died and rose again.
With Jesus, all of the promises that address our deepest longings will come true. The Bible is not just political rhetoric; it is the future as promised by the only One able to make it happen. His is not conventional wisdom, but the greater wisdom of the Creator and Redeemer of all humanity. I am so grateful to God for choosing you and me to be delegates. Aren’t you?