Without question the greatest trend going on in the American political landscape today is the rapidly growing idea that we can create a heaven on earth without God. The greatest spokesman for this rapidly advancing idea is Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. Recent primary election results from Nevada, and around the nation, have turned the self-proclaimed "socialist' Senator from Vermont into a political "rock star". Enthusiastic crowds fill his political meetings like they are at an Elvis concert. If you watch the faces and cheers for Senator Sander's coming from his supporters one must wonder why people are so excited. Have we all missed something? Is it a new drug or way to get high? What explains this growing political euphoria that seems to be spreading like wildfire and may be leading us one day toward a new view of America we have never seen before?
Now the answer to all these questions is somehow rooted in the basic idea that no human being can live without hope. The Lord has hardwired all of us to look for hope in our lives and everyone is looking for it one way or another. And so it turns out that Senator Sanders has tapped into people's need for hope by presenting himself as an American, political "savior", a person who can help fulfill that longing for hope inside us. The Senator has promised to create a sort of heaven on earth for his followers with his visionary plan to change America into a socialistic paradise. So, it seems that anyone who can create such powerful feelings in their audience is not only going to be very popular but may even be President one day. For now, that someone appears to be Senator Sanders, a possible savior for millions of people.
However, the main problem with being a savior figure is that you must be able to deliver on your promises and really save people sooner or later. And that is where things get a little tough for Senator Sanders because reality tends to be tough on saviors. Much of Senator Sander's popularity is based around the idea that someone else is going to pay for everything he is promising people. Someone else is going to pay for free college, forgiving student loan debt, Medicare for all, radical environmental plans, healthcare for illegal aliens and a host of other budget busting promises that conservative estimates say would bankrupt the nation many times over. Unfortunately for Senator Sanders, the money for such promises never existed and never will. Some have estimated that Senator Sander's spending promises would cost over 90 trillion dollars, which is more money than all the assets held by every American. So if all the rich people in America, whoever they might be, gave of all of their wealth many times over to Senator Sander's voters there still wouldn't be enough money to go around. Broke is broke, whatever political label you place on it. To quote a famous line from the late, former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher,
Socialism is a wonderful idea until you eventually run out of other people's money.
You see, the kind of socialism Senator Sanders wants to bring to America has never worked anywhere in history. And yet its illusion still remains as powerful as ever to millions of the hopeful. Socialism has only brought financial ruin and chaos everywhere else it has been tried, a fact easily proven that Senator Sanders doesn't really want to debate in a careful or thoughtful way. Instead, you will notice that whenever these issues come up, you rarely, if ever, hear too many facts and numbers about it. What you do hear is vague and soaring promises and hopes for the future that people will virtually never check out with a pencil and a calculator. Such encounters with reality tend to blur and challenge the hopefulness of the audience. As long as things remain fuzzy and vague the rallies can and will remain powerful. When challenged on such things, Senator Sanders often answers his critics by saying they don't understand his version of socialism or he tries to suggest that his system is like the one used in the Scandinavian counties like Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The problem with these comparisons, however, is that his system has little in common with those nations and it turns out to be an example of comparing apples to elephants, not other apples. Such facts only confuse the feelings and emotional euphoria of hope about a future utopia in his audience.
It turns out that this political charade is being fueled by the powerful addiction of needing to feel good that is craved and needed by both him and his potential voters. Somehow, they are meeting some sort of deep need in one another. The relationship Senator Sanders has with his supporters is something spiritual in nature and not easily understood by outsiders. That is why if you ever try to sit down with people caught up in this growing socialistic illusion and reason with them you won't get anywhere. Facts, truth, reality and common sense are not important at all to this discussion. Such conversations or even arguments end up leading nowhere. It is as though people living in this world are in an altered state of consciousness or living in another world. Facts don't matter here because they cannot forsake the warm and fuzzy feelings of hope for a utopian future. Those feelings always seem to carry the day because they are spiritual in nature.
What we have just described in this brief analysis of the rise of socialist thinking in America is a counterfeit attempt of the human heart to find the Lord and His heaven. There is a real God and a real heaven, but it is not Senator Sanders and his socialistic deception. That is true because there can only be one God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord is the only One that can meet our deepest needs for hope, salvation and a future heaven. Any other leader or individual that tries to bring such things to people in any way is a counterfeit of our Lord and his plans for us. Our Lord commented on this exact issue in John 10:7-10 where we hear,
Therefore Jesus said again, "Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
In addition to giving us a hope for heaven, our Lord is the only One with the power to make His promises about it come to pass. At the heart of those promises was His love for us that led Him to freely pay for all of our debts on a cross. Our Lord didn't force people to give Him their money for their misguided utopian plans for a heaven that didn't exist. Only our Lord had the resources to take care of the monumental costs that sin created, far more than any exploding national debt or what all the rich people in the world had to give.
Hence, the major difference between our Lord Jesus and all other political leaders throughout history is that they make empty promises to people that they could never deliver. The only real heaven that ever existed is the one our Lord came to give his people that is yet to come. That is perhaps the greatest way to discern between truth and error, between a false heaven and the real one. Our Lord told us that the heaven we all long for was not going to be experienced right now because of sin. The heaven our Lord promised us is something that begins in our hearts now as we trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our true Savior. It is that relationship that allows us to long for a future heaven when we pray in Matthew 6:9-10,
This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...."
So, when anyone has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives they begin to experience a new hope for the future that will one day lead to the real heaven that was always there. It is this new relationship with the Lord that gives us a feeling of joy like nothing else in the world because it is real and everlasting. No politician or human promise can duplicate that feeling. Every time we hear from the Lord through his Word or think about Him in our hearts we enter into true worship and praise. That is the relationship we were designed for, not a political counterfeit with some candidate that will end with this life.
As this election year unfolds, it is going to be full of politicians and their many promises to gain our support. And yet, all of their promises at best can only be a shadow of the true and real promises our Lord has made and kept for us that will never be broken. It turns out that human beings were never meant to create heaven on earth or anywhere else for that matter. Heaven is the Lord's work and a gift that he delights in giving to his people in Christ. As a result, may we never allow anyone to distract us from our wonderful Lord and his eternal plan for us. He alone is worthy of our heartfelt worship, love and commitment in this world and the next. To Him alone be glory and honor forever. Amen.