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How to Keep Faith During the 2024 Presidential Race
Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 03, 2024 4:40pm

President Biden will meet with Democratic governors later today as he attempts to solidify support among his party’s top leaders after last week’s debate. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas has become the first Democrat in Congress to publicly call for Mr. Biden to withdraw as his party’s nominee for president.

Politico reports that at least a half-dozen current or former Democratic members of Congress have openly acknowledged their skepticism about his campaign as well. New York Times writer Thomas Friedman, said to be one of Mr. Biden’s favorite columnists, has also published a second article appealing to the president to step aside. However, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the president’s “tight inner circle” is “counseling him to ignore critics and stay in the race.”

In other political news, former President Trump’s criminal sentencing has been delayed until September 18. This is in response to a request from his legal team after the Supreme Court’s decision on presidential immunity. His sentencing was previously scheduled for July 11.

If you’re tired of all this political turmoil, you’re not alone: 65 percent of Americans say they always or often feel exhausted when thinking about politics. Their number may only escalate as the fall elections approach.

Is there a way forward?

The “soul” of a nation
Yesterday marked the anniversary of the shooting of James Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States. Garfield was a preacher, attorney, Civil War general, and nine-term House of Representatives member before becoming the only sitting member of the House to be elected president. He was shot in 1881 by a disillusioned office-seeker and died eighty days later.

Learning about him, I was struck by this statement:

“Territory is but the body of a nation. The people who inhabit its hills and valleys are its soul, its spirit, its life.”

Here we find a paradoxical reason I’m grateful to be an American. I agree with Mr. Garfield: our national “soul” is not our territory or those who govern it. We are not the presidents or other elected officials who serve us. Our nation is defined by its culture—“its soul, its spirit, its life.”

And, while you and I can do very little to change our leaders or resolve the political turmoil of these days, we can contribute directly to our national “soul.”

“Cultures were religious in character”
Yesterday we noted the statement by the brilliant sociologist James Davison Hunter that “all healthy societies are bound together, not by the power of a state and its military, but by the power of a culture.” He added, “Through most of history, cultures were religious in character.”

In his new book, Democracy and Solidarity, Hunter explains why. Citing the work of sociologist Émile Durkheim, he notes that “pre-contractual” understandings and obligations bind us together. These were “found in a shared moral code, often oriented around the sacred, the shared rituals that enacted those shared beliefs, and the trust that all of these interactions generated.”

He laments that these sources “have largely unraveled,” taking our cultural cohesion with them. Accordingly:

If there is little or no common political ground today, it is because there are few if any common assumptions about the nature of a good society that underwrite a shared political life. If we cannot find a way beyond our political stalemates, it is because we cannot find the cultural sources of common hopes in ways that transcend those impasses and lead us beyond them.

This is an urgent moment: the ideals and practices of democracy that “possess the inherent potential for self-correction” themselves depend upon “a modicum of solidarity because common goods depend upon at least some common understandings, common loves, or common purposes.” The more this solidarity fractures, the more our common future is imperiled.

“Let no man lose the faith”
Dr. Hunter’s analysis offers eloquent commentary on the ancient question, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). Here’s the good news: if we draw closer to Christ, we draw closer to each other. If you place a chair in the center of the room and everyone moves toward the chair, they move toward one another.

The key is therefore as simple as it is transforming: love your Lord and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39). The more you do the former, the more you’ll do the latter.

Here’s the problem: we cannot make ourselves love someone, not even our Lord, much less our neighbor. You can choose to like or respect a person, but you cannot choose to love them. The same is true of Jesus, as Oswald Chambers noted:

To be a disciple is to be a devoted love-slave of the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not devoted to Jesus Christ. No man on earth has this passionate love to the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Ghost has imparted it to him. We may admire him, we may respect him and reverence him, but we cannot love him. The only Lover of the Lord Jesus is the Holy Ghost, and sheds abroad the very love of God in our hearts.

In response, let’s take three biblical steps today:

o Since love is a “fruit” of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), ask him to impart a genuine love for Christ in your heart, then spend time worshiping your Lord as his Spirit guides you.
o Since feelings follow actions, seek ways to serve your neighbors and thus eventually to love them (John 13:35).
o Since people change culture, renew your hope for America as you become the change we need to see (Matthew 5:13–16).

In a devotional urging us to believe that God can use each of us, the statesman and pastor Paul Powell quoted Martin Luther: “Let no man lose the faith that God wills to do a great work through him.”

Do you have such faith today?


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