As the time of our election draws near, even those of us who have been at the margins of this presidential election conversation are being drawn into the fray. The temperature for many Christians is reaching a fever pitch as we enter this last month before Election Day. In that vein, here are a couple of things that I have been thinking as Election Day approaches:
Consider the example of the early church
We have to value the example of the New Testament Church as we reflect on our situation. Recently at Lifeline, we have studied through 1 Peter as a staff. The churches that Peter wrote to were established because their members fled Rome under the intense persecution of Nero. They had lost everything because the government was against them and had poisoned the minds of society against them. Sound familiar?
So what did Peter counsel the believers to do? He reminded them that their citizenship was in heaven and challenged them to act like it.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. - 1 Peter 2:8
Perhaps the most troubling thing in this election cycle for me is seeing the number of "conservative" Christians, especially pastors, who by all appearances are treating this election like it will sway the balance of power in the Kingdom of God. It should not be a newsflash for us to be reminded that it will not.
God will still be in His throne on November 10 regardless of the outcome of this election. The mission of the Church to make disciples of all nations, and it will still be our prime directive no matter who our president is. The blood of Jesus will still be effacious. The Holy Spirit will still comfort the hearts of those who are in Christ. And, we will still (and maybe more intensely) anticipate the imminent return of Jesus to establish the fullness of His Kingdom. We have it on good authority that we will prevail ultimately even if we suffer currently.
I must admit that I do not want to suffer. It's scary, but I also have to realize that my flesh betrays me in that fear. I have to remember and rest in what Paul wrote to the Roman church:
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. - Romans 8:15-18
Our adoption is secure regardless of our circumstances. Our inheiritance is guaranteed by the work of Jesus, and if we suffer because our country falls apart morally under the weight of morally bankrupt leadership then we can and will endure for Jesus' sake.
Consider our difference from the early church
A striking difference that we enjoy, in contrast to the early church, is that we participate in our own governance. They lived under the hand of Rome and had no voice. On the other hand, we as American Christians have a loud and powerful voice in the politics of our nation. The question is for what are we using that voice?
I am afraid that we are losing our voice and our credibility by selling out to fear and by supporting candidates that are morally reprehensible. In doing so, we are telling the world that we are mere pragmatists whose hope is in this world. Pastors far and wide have become evangelists for candidates whose lives reflect a disdain for Christ and have marginalized their ability to stand before the world and point to the gospel by clinging only to the hope found in Christ.
I agree this election is pivotal for Christians in America, but I am not sure it is because of who we will elect. It may well be because of Whom we are failing to represent, and no win or loss of a mere election is worth that.