Elections are hard for the Church. It’s easy to get frustrated with the situation and with each other, but that doesn’t have to be the end of it. No matter who wins this election, the Church’s goal remains the same: share the gospel of Christ that brings healing to this broken world.
No candidate ever seems to be the God-fearing man or woman we’d like them to be, and politics brings out the worst in even the ones who are trying. Unfortunately, this means that the Church gets split right down the middle just like the rest of the country. In what feels like an especially difficult election season, here are a few things we should keep in mind:
1) Republicans and Democrats both go to church.
Largely thanks to the Christian right becoming more active in the Republican Party since the 1970’s, and starting socially conservative organizations such as the Christian Coalition and Focus on the Family, the Republicans have been labeled by some as the real Christian Party, but this is not an entirely fair assessment. Both parties do, in fact, have areas of their platforms with biblical roots (e.g., Democrats caring for the poor and Republicans caring for the unborn).
The point is that it’s plain silly to think that Jesus Christ himself would identify fully with the politics of either party. So why do we expect that from his followers? Many people in both the Republican and Democratic Party go to church, love the Lord, and are trying to follow him as best as they can. How about a little grace for our fellow believers?
2) “American” is not our primary identity.
The problem is not that we’re proud to be Americans; that is arguably a good thing. We should be grateful for this country and our freedoms. The problem begins, though, when we consider “American” to be the most important piece of our identity. We have to be able to recognize the parts of American culture that aren’t holy and be able to separate from that.
First and foremost, we are children of God, members of his Kingdom and followers of his son Jesus Christ. Then, after that, we are Americans. It’s time we learn how to love and be proud of this country without reading the American Dream into God’s Word.
3) God’s Kingdom is not advanced through power or politics.
Jesus did not come to take over political power, even though that’s the type of Messiah the Jewish people were expecting. The prophets in the Old Testament predicted a ruler for God’s kingdom, so that’s who Israel was hoping for. They wanted a King who would overthrow their current government, but instead they got Jesus, a man who pushed for us to love each other better and who never fought back, even when being taken to his death on the cross. If God didn’t use politics then to bring his Kingdom on earth, why are we so convinced that’s what He’ll do now?
We’re not saying that God can’t use those who have political power to advance his Kingdom. We are saying, though, that our job as believers is not simply to elect Christians and hope the world magically becomes good again. We should be on the ground, actively sharing the gospel and allowing God to use us to bring healing and renewal. We don’t have to rely on a political leader for that type of change; that’s the job of the Church.
4) God is in control of all things.
For faithful people, we have an awful lot of fear. We get all up in arms about politics and social issues, claiming that this Supreme Court decision or that political candidate will surely bring destruction on the whole earth.
This level of paranoia and fear seems to imply that all of our hope and faith is in our political system rather than in our God. Either our God is sovereign over all things, including our current political situation, or He’s not who He claims to be. And if He’s not who He claims to be, what are we even doing?
5) All hope is not lost.
We’re frustrated and with good reason. This election has felt extra difficult, but that is not an excuse for us to give up. Trusting that God is in control doesn’t mean we sit by apathetically and watch. Educate yourselves, vote how you believe is best, and leave the rest up to the Lord. The candidates who win, in local elections all the way up to the presidential election, are a part of God’s plan, a plan we’ll never fully understand. So, let’s pray for them and trust that God knows what He’s doing. He is God, after all.
In conclusion, here’s a video by Tony Evans, Senior Pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, in which he uses Humpty Dumpty combined with the story of Joshua to remind us of our roles as Christians in this election. It’s time we truly “represent another king in another kingdom.”