It is political convention season and the campaign slogans are flying. They all seem to boil down to one of two ideas: “I can make your life better” and “The other guy can’t cut it.” Four years ago, the Obama-Biden campaign clearly struck a nerve with its expression of the former in the slogan “Hope and Change.” I’ll leave it to the pundits to decide how well the administration has done delivering on the promise of that slogan.
I’ve given a lot of thought to the resonance of those two words, “hope” and “change,” for people across the political spectrum. Ultimately, aren’t we all looking for hope and change?
In my 40 years as a pastor, I have heard the desire for hope and change expressed in many different ways. For some, it is the desire for a new job. For others, it is the desire for a spouse or a child. For so many more, it is a deep longing that can’t be named but is so real that it seems to consume the soul. My answers vary but they all boil down to one thing: God is our only hope for change.
Don’t get me wrong, elections matter and have consequences for the wellbeing of the nation. There is certainly a place for godly men and women in public office. I believe voting is a privilege and duty for all who value freedom. But whoever is in the White House or the state house or the court house, God is ultimately on the throne. We can and should hold our elected officials to account for their job performance. But we are foolish if we think that they have the power to meet all our needs or fulfill our deepest desires. Politics and politicians are not now and never will be the ultimate solution to our country’s needs.
I have had the opportunity to travel around the world and visit many countries. Some have been truly great nations I would be happy to visit again. Other nations have been places I would go back to if called there but I’d just as soon leave off my itinerary. Through it all, I have become more convinced than ever that the United States of America is still the greatest country on the face of the earth. I have always believed that—in spite of our problems and in spite of the fact that many in our nation have turned away from the God of our fathers.
In the first prayer ever uttered in the Continental Congress, the Rev. Jacob Duché prayed:
“O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee.”
How far we’ve come from a dependence wholly on God. As we have wrested the reigns of control out of the hands of God and handed them over to politicians, we have placed a burden on the shoulders of men and women that they were never meant to—or were equipped to—bear. We can blame the politicians all we want, but the responsibility is ours.
We’ve been looking to the wrong person to bring us hope and change.
I look forward to voting this November and I have definite opinions about the candidates and their ability to lead our nation. But when the confetti has stopped falling, the last dance at the inaugural ball has ended, we can be sure that whoever is sitting in the Oval Office will be unequipped to bring us the ultimate hope and change we so desire. Fortunately, we have an ultimate power source who is able to “do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or desire” if we will only entrust our lives and our nation to Him.
Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif. and Harvest Orange County in Irvine, Calif. He is also organizer and principalspeaker at large-scale public evangelistic events called Harvest crusades; on Aug. 26., Harvest America was hosted at 2,399 simulcast locations across the United States.