When the Circus Is Over…

Just think, in just a few more days, this whole presidential election circus will be over, and we can all get back to “normal,” whatever that means. Or maybe that’s when the real adventure is going to begin, with accusations of voter fraud and challenges to election results that could stretch on for months. Eventually January will come around, we’ll inaugurate a new president, and we’ll start a whole new circus.

I, for one, am glad that this election cycle that seems to have been going on for more than two years is finally going to be over. This has been the craziest election ever, as we have traveled further and further down the ol’ rabbit home into Alice’s upside-down world. The never-ending news cycle and the constant barrage of highly-charged political posts on social media has brought a new level of negativity and divisiveness to American politics. Of course, those pesky emails and hidden recordings haven’t helped much either.
I found interesting what pollster Frank Luntz discovered in some recent surveys of people on Facebook. He found that 94% of Republicans, 92% of Democrats and 85% of Independents say they’ve never been swayed by a political post on Facebook. But obviously, that doesn’t keep people from posting their opinions, memes, accusations and “end of the world as we know it” proclamations if one or the other candidates are elected. And most of us are just sick of it all.
A few people have asked me, as pastor, what I think of the election and who a Christian should vote for, especially in a world where we must choose “the lesser of two evils.” I realize there are bigger issues at play other than the personalities at the top of the ticket, and that there is no such thing as a perfect candidate, especially in a day when a 24/7 news cycle exposes everyone’s flaws on a daily basis. But I am appalled at the glaring demonstrations of bad character by the two primary candidates, and I have to wonder if this is the best our country has to offer.
What does God’s word say about who we should vote for? Not much, really. The closest parallel to a vote in the Old Testament was when Israel demanded a king, and God finally relented and gave them what they wanted, and they got Saul. And that didn’t work out so well. In the New Testament, there never was even a consideration that anyone would have a voice or a vote in a democratic political process. I can only imagine Jesus campaigning for His followers to vote out Herod, or Peter or Paul, facing Roman persecution under Nero, suggesting that Christians should vote for the outsider candidate for emperor.
Instead, Jesus taught that we should render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and Peter and Paul both wrote of the Christian’s responsibility to submit to governing authorities, because God in His sovereignty uses human governments to maintain order. And neither of those apostles added asterisks when they wrote, just in case you don’t agree with the politics of those in charge. Of course, there is the argument for civil disobedience from Acts 4, when the disciples were told to stop preaching about Jesus, and their answer was, “We must obey God rather than man.” But I don’t know that we’re there quite yet, especially as it pertains to the election.
The truth is, nowhere in Scripture do we find a prescription for the proper Christian vote. Certainly there are some values to which we as believers hold that should be reflected in how we cast our vote, and we certainly are called to be “salt and light” and bring Christian influence on our culture. But as I heard someone say at a Promise Keepers conference a couple of decades ago, when Jesus comes back He won’t be riding an elephant or a donkey. And we would all do well not to hitch our commitment to Christ to any particular political party.
For that matter, I wish the people of our country would stand up to both parties and hold them accountable for the direction they are taking our country with them. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard about “wasting your vote” if you don’t get in line and vote for one of the two main-party candidates. If everyone who said that they hate having to choose between two evils didn’t, then we could all realize than none of us have to after all.
Ultimately, as many have pointed out, this election has revealed the bigger issues in our nation, and for that I am grateful. The problems are not political, as big of a mess our politics may be. They are clearly spiritual. And the candidates aren’t the problem, they’re just a mirror that reflects the state and soul of our nation. Sometimes I think that, in the same way that God used the Assyrians and the Babylonians as instruments of judgment on His people, so too these candidates are His means of discipline on us as a nation. And perhaps, this may be a good thing, if it brings us to our knees and we turn and seek Him again.
I have been saying for a while that I think this is the most pivotal election of my lifetime, but I am coming to the conclusion that it might not be so. Maybe, just maybe, Tuesday’s election won’t make that big of a difference after all, no matter who wins. Maybe, our fate does not rest so much in politicians or governments as in a Sovereign God who at last check has not yet descended His throne. As John Piper has said, “One day America and all of its presidents will be a footnote in history, but the kingdom of Jesus will never end.”
I will pray for my nation, and I will vote my conscience on Tuesday, as I hope you will also. And then I hope we as God’s people will get back to our Father’s business of living out the gospel to our community and our world, with Christ-like compassion, no matter who is elected. For no matter who our president is, Jesus will still be our King.
May He reign over your life, today and even after the circus is over. I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
–Ken Letson