As I write this, we are still not really close to deciding this year’s presidential election, even though it’s been a few days since the final votes were cast. Many of us were hoping that if we could just get through Tuesday, life could back to “normal,” whatever that means. But it looks like this is when the real adventure is going to begin, with accusations of voter fraud and challenges to election results that could stretch on for months. And because of that, many of the people I have talked to this week seem to have the “post-election blues.”
I, for one, can’t wait for this election cycle that seems to have been going on for more than two years to finally be over. The never-ending news cycle and the constant barrage of highly-charged political posts on social media– with a little pandemic thrown in for good measure–has brought a new level of negativity and divisiveness to American politics.
I don’t know if these numbers have changed, but I found interesting what pollster Frank Luntz discovered prior to the 2016 election, from 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.
As you probably expected, I have a couple of thoughts on this matter:
First, politics have simply become too important in our country. They were never intended to drive all that we do, especially for those of us who follow Christ. We have allowed politics to consume us, and divide us, and we have put too much stock–and hope–into what we think politicians can do for us. Which in the end is really not much.
Secondly, whether your candidate wins or loses…this too shall pass. That’s one of the lessons learned from growing old, which I am. When you’ve been through this a few times, you come to understand that it’s really not nearly as big of a deal as you thought it was. I remember some past elections from decades ago when I was so distraught when my candidate didn’t win, and I bought the idea that the whole world was going to change. It didn’t, for the most part. And it won’t this time around, as much as we have been told otherwise. 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.”
And finally, I guess we should be grateful that we have the privilege of living in a country that allows us as citizens to participate in the political process. Throughout human history, and even around the world right now, this is more than the exception than the rule. You sure can’t find any precedent for it in Scripture. 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.
Ultimately, as many have pointed out, the last few elections in particular have 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 continue to pray for my nation, and I hope that when the dust clears from the chaos of this election 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, in 2020, and in the years ahead, until He returns. I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.