Election 2012 – How should Christians respond?
It is Election Day 2012. Today as I write this, there is a long line of people entering my church to vote. Even in the safe confines of my office I can feel the tension oozing through the crack under the door. Many Americans are nervous. I have heard more than a few describe this as one of the, if not the most critical moments in U.S. History. Though I think that is a bit of an overstatement, I want to ask a question that I think carries far more eternal significance. Is this one of the most significant moments for American Christians? I think the answer is equal parts yes and no.
Why it is not
Many are saying that America is at a crossroads. There are numerous key issues that are at stake. The next four years could set America on a permanent course. The sanctity of marriage, the security of our economy, the safety of our nation, and the list goes on and on of issues that will be permanently altered for the future of our children. Have you heard these kinds of statements? The problem is, they are completely and 100% false.
That was a bold statement, I know. Please take a couple of moments to digest what I said. The sanctity of marriage, financial security, the safety of our nation, all of these things supposedly hang in the balance on a ballot to elect a fellow human being. Correct me if I am wrong, but the Savior of the World is not up for reelection. I am pretty sure that the Office of the Creator of the Universe is more permanently filled than the Supreme Court seats that may or may not come open during the next Presidential term.
Who determines the sanctity of marriage? Is it really a guy in a really nice suit sitting in the Oval Office? No. God alone has the power to bless the institution of marriage that, again, I’m pretty sure He created to begin with.
Financial security? Since when were we supposed to find security in money? Isn’t it all God’s to give and take away as He pleases? Isn’t the Christian supposed to find security in the One not in the dollar?
Safety of our Nation? Who is our Great Protector? The U.S. Military? Don’t get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for those in uniform. They may protect my shores, but they do not protect my life. My life is not my own. I am free in Christ, but my life no longer belongs to me.
What I am driving at here is that no matter what happens in the polls today, God is and will always be still on the Throne. No candidate can boast the power to die for my sins and come back to life three days later.
Vote. Be a good citizen of our great nation. But do not fear. Let me finish this section by allowing you to hear Hope spoken in Truth in God’s Word.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39
Why it is
Now that I have established that fear is not a Christian response to this election, I want to share why this is a critical moment for Christians. My answer is simple. The world is watching. I don’t mean “the world” as in “outside of America” but as in those outside of the Body of Christ. We are being watched. To steal a concept from Michael Spencer, there are non-Christians looking at us and making up their minds whether God even exists. If your words and actions during this election season are all they have to go on, what would the verdict be?
I find it tremendously challenging that Jesus makes it pretty clear how the world will know we are His disciples. It isn’t by how we vote, what we “take a stand for”, how loudly we proclaim our denominations interpretation of the truth. The defining characteristic outlined in John 13 is how we love one another. Love defines us, not hot-button issues.
Now, I will fully acknowledge that this kind of love is not a sloppy “I’m fine with whatever” lazy kind of love. Love means speaking truth, even if it hurts. But love is always love.
- Love builds up, it does not destroy.
- Love brings freedom not chains.
- Love places the needs of others first.
- Love is sacrifice.
- Love is spending more time on your knees in prayer than on soapboxes.
Love is the central force that drives Jesus’ summation of God’s Law found in Mark 12:29-30.
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. ’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
It’s amazing how much easier the second commandment is when the first commandment is followed. My advice for Christians is simple: Love God with an all-consuming love. Do that, and it’s pretty easy to love that other candidate (or that person who argues angrily in his defense).
Let’s say that the worst predictions are true and the “other” candidate leads our country into tremendous persecution of Christians and Biblical values. What is our response then? Exactly the same as if the “your guy” won. We love our neighbor as ourselves. That includes our enemies, by the way. In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus spoke about that one too.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. – Matthew 5:44-45
If pre-election polls are accurate, tomorrow nearly 50% of America is going to wake up to find out that their candidate of choice did not get elected. This country is nearly divided in half over this election. What will be your response as a Christian? Fear? Anger? Slander? Joy? Peace? Patience? Will your actions prove to the lost that Jesus is alive and loves them enough to die in their place?