Post-election Thoughts

The Bible doesn’t really say much about politics, at least not politics as such.

That’s not saying we shouldn’t care, only that there’s a conspicuous silence in the New Testament concerning approval or disapproval of Rome’s fiscal and foreign policies.

That brings up a question concerning what we ought to do in our post-election lives.

I believe the answer is the same as it would’ve been had this week’s presidential election turned out differently.

In the part of Paul’s writings where he got closer to talking politics than he did anywhere, he had some interesting things to say about how we ought to live.

He was writing in a time when Christians were viewed unfavorably by the ruling powers and persecution was increasing.

Should believers throw up their hands in despair?

Not quite.

Paul simply told them to be Christians.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:14-21).

Twenty-first-century America and first-century Rome are dissimilar in many ways, so we should be careful when drawing parallels.

But perhaps there’s a principle that transcends culture and applies to any country that’s pre-Christian, post-Christian, or anti-Christian.

What should we do when the prevailing ideology seems stacked against us?

Paul’s answer is simple to understand, if not always easy to practice.

Bless . . . Sympathize with others . . . Live peacefully . . . Treat everyone—including our enemies, especially our enemies—compassionately.

The values of our political leaders will usually be quite inconsistent with our own, but that’s always been true.

Our obligation is to live right, follow Jesus, and reflect his love to the world around us.

That’s what God told us to do, and that’s what the world needs.

One thing the election won’t determine

There’s always some anxiety and anticipation with elections, I suppose, but it seems like there’s been more angst about this one than any I remember.

Who will America’s next president be?

I have no idea.

The polls seem to agree on only one thing: it will be close.

All we know is that sometime tonight, barring a repeat of the 2000 election, we’ll know who will lead our country for the next four years.

On the human side, that is.

President Obama or President-elect Romney will take his oath of office in January and commit himself to upholding the constitution.

He’ll sit on America’s executive “throne,” so to speak.

But he won’t sit on the most important Throne, of course, and he won’t replace the reigning King.

Daniel’s words from many years ago are still relevant:

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Daniel 2:20-21).

And then Paul’s words:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1).

When governments are run by people whose values are different from God’s (which they normally are), this proverb comforts me:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1).

We’ve had our prayer meetings and written our articles and posted our views on various social media sites.

Today we’ll vote, and then we’ll pray some more.

At some point tonight we’ll know. Depending on the outcome and our perspective, we’ll either be elated or dejected.

But whatever happens today, let’s remember that our citizenship is in heaven, our King is Jesus, and our God is sovereign.

The boxes Americans check today won’t change that.

Something everyone can do

I’ve heard of people who have led thousands to Christ in their lives—through preaching to huge audiences or writing widely-read books or tracts.

That’ll never happen for most of us.

Paul established dozens of churches, and Peter preached to enormous crowds. Both of them wrote letters about Jesus that have been read by hundreds of millions.

My circle of influence is considerably smaller than that.

Once we’ve realized that, we’ve got two options.

We can resent our situation, and envy the Peters and Pauls of the world.

Or we can do what we can where we are.

Isn’t the right path obvious? The vast majority of us won’t turn a village upside down for Christ, but God can use us right where we are.

Andrew—one of the relatively unknown apostles—is the perfect example here.

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus (John 1:40-42).

And that’s about all we know of Andrew. I’m guessing he lived most of his life in his famous brother’s shadow.

Didn’t write a New Testament letter.

Didn’t preach a Pentecost sermon.

Didn’t get invited to the Jerusalem Conference in Acts 15.

So what did he do?

He introduced people to Jesus.

Will you do that?

Invite someone to church. Introduce someone to Jesus. Lead someone to Christ.

Studies show that there are millions of Americans who will visit church with a friend.

Here’s the catch: they’re not going to visit until they’re invited by someone they know.

Will you invite? Will you be an Andrew?

Thinking about the northeastern U.S.

I’m sure you’ve been saddened the last few days by the images coming out of the northeastern United States. Nature’s destructive power is incredible, and many are suffering.

Questions concerning why God allows things like this to happen—from hurricanes to tsunamis to earthquakes—are sometimes tough to answer, and they’re certainly beyond the scope of these short devotional thoughts.

But I know one reason why God allows them, and that’s so that people might come to know him who otherwise never would.

In your devotional time today, please do two things:

  1. Pray for everyone who’s being affected by this storm. Pray that God will minimize their suffering and ease their pain. Pray for the workers who are searching, rescuing, and healing. And pray that Christians will have the opportunity to reflect Jesus’ love to people who may have never seen real-life examples of it.
  2. Consider helping. Some of you may be planning to travel to that part of the country to help on-site. Most of you won’t be able to do that, but perhaps some of you can give. There are many worthy relief organizations in our country, but one that I recommend is the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort. They’re well-organized, and they have an excellent system by which they work through local churches to extend relief to hurting people. They also seek to direct all praise to Jesus and his church.
I think disasters like this ought to remind us again of the fallenness of our world. “This world is not my home,” we sometimes sing, and this week is another reminder of that.

But we live here for now, and we ought to do as much as we can in the name of Christ to bring healing to those who desperately need it.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! (Psalm 57:1-3)