When we make god out of our political leaders -- or money, love, fame and comfort -- we gain this world and risk losing the next
He brought me forth into freedom. He saved me because he loved me. —Psalm 18:20
For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? — Mark 8:36
Supreme Court nominees will not save you. National security advisers will not save you. An Ivy League education will not save you. A quarterback who’s cool under pressure will not save you. Tax breaks will not save you. The love of Mr. Right will not save you. A traditional priest will not save you. A progressive priest will not save you. This pope will not save you. A different pope will not save you.
If there’s any heresy the internet encourages, it’s the passionate conviction that “all we need is….” All we need is a Republican president or a more compassionate bishop or a baby who sleeps through the night or a diet that actually works or a higher minimum wage or better paternity leave or free rein to go after ISIS or a new iPhone or a good harvest and then we’ll be happy.
No. All you need is Jesus.
We all seem to know, Christian or not, that we’re in desperate need of a savior. Every four years, we find that savior in a political candidate, appalling as he or she may be. In between, our savior might be an ecclesial movement or a dear friend or a cup of coffee. They’re not bad things until they’re everything and then they’re idols just as much as any golden calf or statue of Bel.
Perhaps it ought to go without saying, but many of us need the reminder right now: the world already has a savior. And it’s not you. It’s not a political platform or an economic boom or anything else but the One who is King above all kings.
Maybe you’re not buying into any of our candidates (and I say any because there are more than two presidential candidates and more races than just the presidential race). Maybe you’re with me, standing morosely by prophesying doomsday. Because, like me, you’ve forgotten that the cry “Lord, have mercy” isn’t just a declaration of woe but a plea to a God who will always provide.
It’s not just politics, of course. We look to money and love and fame and comfort to save us just as much as we do to our political leaders—more. We make them our gods, confident that what we need is a raise or a faithful spouse or a vacation or more reliable internet provider and then we’ll be okay.
Those things might be nice. Or they might be bricks building up into a wall of self-sufficiency, good things that blind us to our need for a savior. And without making a single deal with the devil or even skipping a single Mass we suffer the loss of our souls because we have installed created things in the place set aside for the creator.
The freedom we have in Christ isn’t a freedom from hunger or poverty or fear. It’s a freedom from saving ourselves or finding our own saviors. It’s a freedom to know that whatever atrocious or mildly unpleasant thing is happening in our lives, that ugliness is not the end. He has saved you because he loves you and he will continue to save you because he will always love you. He will always love your family. He will always love this country, though we none of us deserve it. But if we continue to seek salvation in false gods, though we gain this whole world we may forfeit the next.
It is only God who saves. He is the only hope for our nation, our families, our souls. So fight for justice. Buy American. Boycott whatever you like. Work hard and get a good job. But pray. And remember that nothing this world has to offer will ever bring about true peace or joy. Because when we forget who the savior is, we run the risk of losing our souls.