SOUDER: The folly of campaign promises – and those who believe them

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Congress isn't really much like heaven.

By Chuck Souder

I ran across the following fictional account some time ago, and though the point it makes can be applied at any time, it seemed especially appropriate now. Here is the story:

While walking down the street one day, a corrupt senator (sorry for the near redundancy) is tragically hit by a car and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

“Welcome to heaven," St. Peter says. "But before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. You see, we seldom see a high official around these parts, so we're not sure what to do with you."
"No problem,” the senator says, “just let me in."
"Well, I'd like to,” Peter says, “but I have my orders. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."
“Well, there’s no need for all of that,” the senator says. “I've already made up my mind. I want to be in heaven."
"I'm sorry, but we have our rules," Peter says. And with that he escorts the senator to the elevator, and he goes down, down, down to hell.

When the doors open, the senator finds himself in the middle of a luscious, green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse, and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him over the years. Everyone is very happy and dressed in their golf-course best. They run to greet him, shake his hand and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and the finest champagne.

Also present is the devil, who is really a very friendly guy who is having a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are all having such a good time that before the senator realizes it, his day in hell is finished and it is time to go. Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.
The elevator goes up, up, up, and the door reopens in heaven, where St. Peter is waiting for him. "Now it's time to visit heaven," he says.

For the next 24 hours the senator joins a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, again, before he realizes it, the day has gone by, and St. Peter returns.
"Well,” Peter says, “you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity."
The senator reflects for a minute, and then answers: "Well, I would never have said it before, and heaven has been delightful and all, but I think I would be better off in hell."

So, without a word, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator, and he goes down, down, down to hell. However, this time as the doors of the elevator open, the senator finds himself in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above. The devil comes over to him, puts his arm around his shoulders, and welcomes him to hell.

"I don't understand," the Senator says. "Yesterday I was here, and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage, and my friends look miserable. What happened?"
The devil smiles at him and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning; today, you voted." 

Now, biblically speaking, this story doesn’t get much right as a preview of heaven, hell, or what happens when we die. The Bible paints heaven as a much better place, and hell a much worse one than does this make-believe account. And the Bible is also clear that once we die. We have already made our decision about where we will spend eternity.

Having given those disclaimers, however, I believe the parable of the senator does speak accurately into our current political and media culture. Politicians regularly make claims that are demonstrably false (often very obviously so), but because much of the media shares their secular-humanist, leftist world views, they don’t call the politicians out.

As a result, the unsuspecting folks who trust the slick-talking politician – or at least trust the media to report things accurately – often vote as the senator in the story above, based on a totally false view of reality. And then, just like the fictional senator, by the time reality sets in, it is too late to do anything about it.

All three of the big items currently in the news fall into this category. Now that the very shaky roll-out of the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) has happened, people slowly are beginning to realize what common sense has been screaming all along – that you can’t get something for nothing, and that all of the pie-in-the-sky promises were simply a campaigner’s lies to fool people until Election Day.

Both the debt-ceiling and partial government shutdown arguments once again show the hypocrisy of those on the left (and some on the right) like Harry Reid and President Obama, who have in past years argued strenuously for the exact opposite position they take today. (For the record, they were right then and wrong now.)

And all three issues highlight for any who can cut through the fog of deceit that no one is exempt from math, that continually flaunting the principles of sound money management that God established will eventually lead to financial ruin.

In this kind of political and cultural climate, some people just throw up their hands and cynically say, “All politicians are the same. No one can be trusted.” They totally disengage from the process. Some even go so far as to apply that same cynicism toward all aspects of their lives and reject any form of authority, including God.

However, neither of these responses is wise.

On the political front, although it seems the old joke – How do you know if a politician is lying? Answer: his lips are moving – applies more often than not, there are still good men and women involved in the process who are trying their best to bring about positive, God-honoring, fiscally responsible change. And though you may have to do your homework to find them (hint: watch what they do, not just what they say), these people need our prayers and our support.

On the spiritual front, turning your back on God because other men prove to be untrustworthy is like refusing to ride in a car because your bike tire is flat. In stark contrast to our political leaders, the Bible says that God cannot lie – not just that he does not lie, but that he cannot.

It is totally against his nature. Over and over again throughout history, God has proven himself faithful, even when men prove not to be. In fact, the more men fail us, the more we must place our trust in God, the righteous judge. His promises are true; his promises are sure; he can be trusted.

The good thing is, God isn’t campaigning for our vote by promising things He has no intention of doing. Instead, he proved his promises are true once and for all when Jesus died for us and rose again.

And that won’t change after Election Day.


Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. He can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org. Find other columns by Souder at www.SentinelNews.com/columns.