As the 2012 presidential election campaign races toward its November 6 climax, the spirit of America is quite different from four years ago. How things have changed! Back in 2008 this nation was also in a big mess, but hope was in the air. “Together we can change the world!” then-candidate Barack Obama promised. Adoring crowds responded, “Yes we can!” Four years older and wiser, we now realize that no, we can’t.

The solution is not electing new government leaders. Republicans are just as helpless to effect fundamental change as Democrats are. Human beings cannot transform the world—we can’t even fix ourselves and our fragmenting families.

Despite the sound-bitten rhetoric of both political parties, America cannot vote its way out of the mess we are in. We can’t elect anyone who will make terrorists less determined to revisit New York City or bomb your local shopping mall. Amid global financial doldrums, we can’t just vote everybody back to work. We can’t restore ruined relationships at the ballot box or reverse the obesity epidemic. We can’t vote away our addictions and evil tendencies.

Contrary to secular social theory, society’s problem is not poverty to be resolved through equal distribution of wealth. Communism tried that and failed. The problem is the greedy, proud, selfish human heart—yours! (and mine).

Only God can forgive us and thus induce us to forgive one another, becoming generous with each other since Christ has lavished His grace upon us. Only God can give power over the temptations of corrupted technology. Only God can heal our homes and our hearts. The “blessed hope” of Christ’s soon return will inspire us to excel passionately yet unselfishly in our responsibilities and relationships.

As good citizens we can seek to civilize our schools and beautify our neighborhoods. And yes, we can and should vote for the best people and propositions that can help us make the best of life, such as it is here and now. But we can’t make everything nice and new by electing magical new leaders.

For that, we need the Creator of the universe to visit us again. Indeed He has promised to recreate this polluted, worn out planet: “Behold,” God says, “I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). This will happen after Jesus comes. His celestial trumpet will sound and suddenly everything will get a whole lot better for a long, long time.

Meanwhile, with America increasingly disillusioned about the political process, the church has a new opportunity to give change a chance. Are we up for the challenge?

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus said (Matthew 5:9). Are we willing to experience His love day by day and then share it, even with enemies? Amid the world’s worsening miseries, He can make us beacons of hope and change. When empowered together—not as politicians but as Spirit-filled believers—we can make a big difference in our little circle of influence. “Yes we can!”