The Gospel, Stupid
By this time, most people have read about the Clinton war room for the 1992 election, where then Governor Clinton’s senior strategists, James Carville and Paul Begala, posted the statement on a whiteboard, “The Economy, Stupid.” This was the first time I had heard the terminology, “talking points,” and probably you heard it by now, but instruction for a winning campaign—“Stay on message.” There was actually a haiku of three phrases on Carville’s whiteboard: Change vs. More of the Same, The Economy Stupid, Don’t Forget Health Care. As much as people make a gigantic deal about the success of these Clinton talking points, some people fail to remember Ross Perot got 17% of the votes out of that election and Clinton himself received way less than 50%. Perhaps they should have written, Ross Perot Stupid, on that board. Them were no geniuses.
We need our own war room and our message wouldn’t be that much different actually. I’d leave out only the third phrase of the Carville Mantra. The strategists drilled into Clinton the importance of repeating the talking points and staying on message. We should do the same. You already know that we won’t change the nation through political issues and elections. We need change and not more of the same. But how will change happen? It isn’t the economy. Although that’s what most Americans think. It is the gospel, stupid.
I’m not calling you stupid. Carville wasn’t calling Clinton, stupid. He was saying, “You’re stupid if you forget this talking point.” I’m saying, put The Gospel on your whiteboard. We’re all stupid if we forget it. We’re stupid when we even start forgetting the gospel. If Obama wins this election, the answer is the gospel, stupid. If McCain wins, it’s the gospel, stupid. Sometimes it takes an Obama to remember the gospel, stupid. When I catch myself thinking too much about Obama, Ayers, Wright, and Acorn, I need to remember the gospel, stupid. Do you think in a given week that we’re better off thinking and talking and writing more about this election than we do the gospel, stupid? It’s worth some time, just like bodily exercise is worth some time. But it “profiteth little.” The gospel profiteth much.
I believe that Jesus was talking about this election in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. People worry about the economy. They worry about their own physical needs. The Lord said in verse twenty-five, “Take no thought” of these things. Don’t make those your thinking or talking points. God will take care of you. He’ll meet your needs. Instead, make this your haiku, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” The economy and anything else God wants you to have will be added unto you.
Things Stupid about an Election
- It can’t take away sin, which is man’s real problem.
- It can’t make people do what they’re supposed to do.
- It can’t reconcile man with God.
- It can’t stop people’s greed.
- It can’t create honest leaders.
- It can’t stop men from dying.
- It can’t get anyone to heaven.
- It can’t eliminate the chief reason for crime and war.
- It can’t produce genuine love between people.
- It can’t cause human government to succeed.
- It can’t be the kingdom of God on earth.
- It gives people a false hope and a false sense of security about the future.
Things Stupid about not Elevating the Gospel above Elections
- We can persuade people to vote for our candidate, but they’ll still go to hell.
- When we’re talking about our candidate, we’re not talking about Jesus Christ.
- Even if our candidate does win the election, without preaching the gospel, the numbers of a right type of voter will still shrink.
- Someone for whom we vote will not bring in the kingdom of God on earth, but Jesus will.
- Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead,” so surely an election is below following Him.
- Other people might get the idea that elections are more important than gospel preaching.
- While we are spending time on the election, people will not be hearing the gospel.
- God commanded us to preach the gospel and He said nothing about elections.
- The gospel has the power to save someone forever and a politician or the election itself doesn’t have close to that power.
- The change of the gospel is eternal and the change wrought by an election winner is temporal.
- The gospel can transform someone on the inside and an election can’t.
- God’s Word says a lot about the gospel and it says very little about human government.
The election seems like big time. The news media talks about it. For a little bit of time, we share an opinion with millions of other Americans. Maybe we even feel some strength in numbers. But it’s not the way that God chooses to change the world. He chooses the weak things of the world to confound the strength of the mighty. He didn’t choose elections as His way for men to align themselves with Him. He did choose the preaching of the gospel. Let’s not be stupid.