The Election: From Disregard, to Disappointed, to Doing Something
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:9-18
I’ll start with confession. I am not much into politics. The whole thing sort of makes me throw up in my mouth a little. I’m not saying this is good or ok, just being honest. I didn’t even want to write this because I feel as though it just gets thrown out into the wasteland of social media and isn’t helpful.
For many elections, the posture of my heart was disregard. Sure, I would go vote (except once when I did not have enough confidence or trust in either candidate that I couldn’t in good conscience vote for either), but my posture was one of the pharisee and the tax collector. Me being the pharisee who stood far off and looked down on the people and I would think, “I’m glad I’m not like those people. Wasting so much time and energy on politics when all you have is one vote. I’m glad I’m not like those people, being so mean and vial and unloving towards people who they simply disagree with on how to solve problems in our country.” Again, not saying it was good or ok, just being honest.
I know politics are important and God has given us leaders and we need to pray for them and voting is ONE way to seek the good of our community. So this time I tried to be more engaged, which honestly has just left me disappointed. I tried to watch the first debate and had to turn it off within 15 minutes – disappointed. I’ve tried to have one on one conversations discussing a Biblical perspective of loving people and outdoing one another with honor (see passage above) only to see christians treat the other side just as someone who doesn’t believe the above passage would – disappointed. I’ve tried to preach and show our hope, trust and guide is Jesus and not a party, and see people put their hope, trust and be guided by political pundits – disappointed. I’ve felt like I haven’t had the energy to speak into having a biblical perspective on politics so I feel like I’ve fallen short as a pastor – disappointed.
With that, I want to leave us with one thing – how we can respond AFTER the election. What should we do as Christians TOMORROW (or who knows, next year when this thing finally gets figured out). I thought these were wise words from the Gospel Coalition which I have adapted – you can read the full version here:
1. Pray for our new authorities. Paul tells us to make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings” for “kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). After the election there will be dozens of people who will be in “high positions” for the first time. Let’s take the time to learn their names and pray for them directly, asking that God will give them courage and wisdom.
2. Heal partisan-inflicted wounds. Throughout our country’s history, there has always been a partisan divide among Americans. But over the past few years the rift has been growing wider and deeper. If your partisanship has wounded others, whether intentionally or inadvertently, take some time this week to apologize and make amends. You don’t have to agree with your conspiracy-minded uncle who thinks Congress has been taken over by interstellar lizards in people suits. But you can do your part to follow Paul’s admonition that, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).
3. Trade in the pundits for the prophets. Scripture makes us wise, while the news makes us dumb. So why not reverse the time we spend on each? For instance, this post-election season is an opportune time to trade in Sean Hannity, Don Lemon, and Rachel Maddow for Isaiah, Jonah, and Daniel. You’ll learn more about the state of the world from ten minutes with the prophets than you will an hour watching cable news.
4. Prepare for future action. Our obligations as citizens don’t stop in the voting booth. We cast our ballot to help determine who will represent us. But we also need to let those leaders know how to represent us.
5. Then take a break from partisan activities. Take a break from partisan activities and channel your political energy into your family, your church, and your community. Seek the welfare of the city (Jer. 29:7) in ways that are more direct and more practical. Find ways to serve your neighbor that require more sacrifice and less opining on Twitter.
As Christians and Americans we have dual citizenship, and dual obligations. We are exiles, strangers in a strange land, who have duties to both our country and also our Lord’s kingdom. By taking a temporary sabbatical from partisanship we can free up time and attention that can be spent learning from God’s Word and from God’s people. By taking a break to refocus and realign our priorities we can ultimately become both better partisans and better ambassadors of Christ.