A few words now that the polls are closed
I am writing this on Monday morning, the day before the election. I don’t know how this is going to go. Looking at the polls today, it really could go either way. I won’t lie, I am certain that tomorrow night, when this post is scheduled to publish I will be sitting in front of the TV watching reporters call states, throwing them back and forth, guessing every few minutes at who won how many electoral votes. I also find it interesting when they call a state one way and then reverse themselves! Ok, I’ll admit maybe I’m looking forward to this a little too much.
It’s a fascinating process. It’s entertaining. It’s suspenseful and exciting.
Fellow Americans, we live in a country that offers us the opportunity to express our preferences! That’s a great thing! And as frustrating as the electoral college process can be, it does help to prevent mob rule. The people that set up this system may not have been perfect, but believe me, they deeply understood how flawed humanity can be. Knowing this, they tried to give us something that would protect us from ourselves.
As our country has grown more sharply divided over the last couple of decades, that seems to have been a wise move.
I hope you had the opportunity to express your opinion. Whether you voted for one of the two major candidates, a third party, a write in, or even if your voice was to abstain for reasons of principle, you participated in the process.
I also hope you spent some time looking at the local issues and local candidates, because believe it or not, those things typically make a greater difference in our society than who sits in the oval office.
Now it’s over. You have expressed yourself. As the news cycle turns away from the fighting and backbiting, I hope you will enjoy the next steps in the process and respect the outcome.
And now to the Church, this has been an extremely divisive issue. I know there are many who have felt they could not vote for one of the major parties, there are others who felt that not to vote for one the major parties was to choose the OTHER one, there are some who sought throughout this ordeal to stress the importance of the “Christian vote” and either to imply or outright state what that Christian vote should be.
So, now that that’s over, we need to heal.
If your candidate wins you will be tempted to be prideful toward your brothers and sisters whom you suspect did not vote the way you did.
If your candidate loses you will be tempted to blame those you suspect did not vote with you.
There is a small chance that no one has gotten the 270 electoral votes required. If that happens you will be tempted to spend the next couple of months in the same sort of anxiety and fighting that we’ve spent the last several months.
That’s all over now. Our choices have been made. We have used the voice we have. It is no longer in our hands.
For the last few months, you have heard the words “Pray and vote.” Finally, that’s over. The only thing left is pray.
Let me suggest some ways you can do that. And I will admit that some of this is plagiarized from Jesus who told his disciples how to pray, but I figure he knows better than me anyway so here goes.
1) pray for God’s kingdom to come
Certainly you must realize that no earthly kingdom (or republic) is “God’s Kingdom.” Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this earth.” Our hope is not in princes, chariots, or supreme court Justices. Our hope is in the Living God who restores all broken things. Our hope is in the one who died and rose again. The one who promises to bring about a new kingdom. That kingdom begins inside of us as we live it out in this world. Which is why you should pray for these other things too.
2) pray that you can forgive you brothers and Sisters
When Jesus said “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” his disciples understood that he was challenging to them to forgive others. While I would argue that no person’s vote is a sin, least of all a sin against you, you may very well be tempted to think of it that way. Especially if you are extremely passionate about politics (which is not a bad thing).
If you perceive animosity or anger in your heart toward others, pray that God will deal with that. Instead of pondering the political failures of your brothers and sisters, maybe you should ponder the offenses God has forgiven you at the cross of Jesus Christ. Sometimes when we realize exactly what we’ve ben forgiven of, it makes it a whole lot harder to hold a ballot choice against another American Christian.
3) pray that we would be protected from the temptation to disrespect our leaders
Seriously, I’ve watched some of you for the last eight years, this is a problem.
Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome. You need to understand that Rome was not especially friendly to the Church. They had a limited freedom of religion, given they were willing to kneel and say the words “There is no God but Caesar” or “Caesar is Lord.”
These sayings sound familiar to us because the early church co-opted them and defied them. They argued that this statement was false and that actually, “Jesus is Lord.”
This defiance of imperial rule got many Christians in Rome killed, tortured, eaten by lions, etc. You get the idea. And yet, Paul wrote to those Christians in Rome saying,
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Now, hold up… Paul just said the governing authorities that exist, the ones killing Christians, have been put here by God. How could he say that? Because for Paul, his ultimate hope was that Jesus would come back for his people.
When I was a college student, I was thinking about spending a year in Eastern Europe. That sounded hard until someone told me, “you can do anything for a year.” You know why a college student can do anything for year? Because in the middle of it they are aware that there is so much more ahead of them. Let me remind you that whatever may happen in this life and in this society, we believe that there is much more ahead. Keep reading Paul’s words,
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
I know that many of us (not only Christians but all of America) struggles to show honor and respect toward the leading candidates. This has not been a pretty election. We have seen legal investigations take place, there have been words uttered that caused us to mute our television sets, there has been suspicion of murder and thievery, accusations of racism, and more. Much of this has made some of us just a little sick of the whole thing from time to time.
But whoever wins this process does so under the sovereign hand of God.
God is not sitting on his throne in heaven wondering how in the world this person got so many electoral votes.
This is not a surprise to him.
And something else you should know, this doesn’t upset him. This election does not change God’s plans for you, for me, for his church or for the world. Sure, we voted to make this happen, but make no mistake, God chose the winner of the 2016 election before any of us were born.
And God calls you and I to respect the leaders over us. By January 20th, you really need to quit it with the B word and stop using words like the Killery, womanizer, murderer, agent orange, hilldebeast, hitlery, sexist, or Trumpenstein to refer to the President elect.
More than likely one of these people will be our next president. And they deserve our respect and our honor. Some of you will say that they actually don’t deserve it, that she did this, or that he said that. Well, I remember once upon a time when people believed the office deserved respect regardless of the person who held it. In fact, I think that general sentiment among the population is one of the things that has helped this Republic survive as long as it has. Now that the die is cast, the church needs to repent of not doing better at this. Based on what I’ve seen, no matter which way this goes, we get to spend the next four years learning to show respect to someone many of us didn’t want in that chair.
If they try to prevent us from worshipping King Jesus we will do what the early church did, we will respectfully and politely remind them that Jesus is Lord. If they try to keep the church from loving the broken, we will respectfully and politely say I am sorry, but my first allegiance is to King Jesus, and we will live out our calling as citizens of another Kingdom who happen to be spending a short time here in a America.
After you have prayed these things. After you have prayed for God’s kingdom to come, for healing among your brothers and sisters, and to battle against the temptation toward the sin of disrespecting our leaders, there is one thing left.
Remind yourself who really controls the affairs of men with the last words. Let them calm you, let them bring you back to what matters, let them bring us together as citizens of heaven.
…for Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever! (Amen)