You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged in a while. You also may remember Joe and I have been holed up in a pea-sized apartment since last March, as we await the construction of our next home. This scenario is a sure recipe for non-productive blogging. I’m one of those people who needs to be alone to study. I need space. I can’t focus if it isn’t pin-dropping quiet. The libraries aren’t open. All of my resource material is in storage. Enough said about that.
I realize this blog post is a lengthy one, however, I feel the need to write this as a warning for us to be on alert. We’re quickly coming up on an important presidential election. Someone will win and someone will lose, even if it may take awhile to confirm the results. I’m assuming you’ll vote. I’m also assuming you’ll be happy if your candidate wins, or you’ll be disappointed if your candidate loses. That’s understandable and human. So, what’s my warning to believers all about? Three things:
1. ) The degree to which we may be happy or sad about the outcome.
2.) Our unbiblical responses to the degree of loss or winning, and how it can affect our relationships.
3.) What our response may say about our faith, trust, and hope.
1. The Degree to Which We May Be Happy or Sad About the Outcome
As believers, our outlook on life should be characterized by a fairly static perspective…..no huge mood swings. When something doesn’t happen as we wish, manytimes we may find ourselves tempted to sink down into a dark quagmire of hopeless victimhood. Or, if something happens which we’ve longingly hoped for, it may send us into a euphoric, cloud-nine state of thinking ‘finally life is good!’ In light of this, I want you to think about how you may find yourself responding to the upcoming presidential election results.
I’m hearing a lot of doom and gloom lately. In fact, I have often found myself going down the road of fear and anxiety should my candidate lose….to the degree of saying, “We’ll move out of the country if the other person wins.” When I find myself thinking about the loss to that degree, sadly, it speaks of my misplaced hope and lack of trust in the sovereign will of God. More about that later.
On the other hand, if my candidate should win, I’m tempted to foolishly think all will be well, and I’ll rest a lot easier about my future. This perspective sets the stage for a false sense of security, as though I believe the people in government can cure the ills of a society run by broken, sinful people. Again, misplaced hope and trust.
Yes, certain conditions under different presidents can improve or worsen, depending on your view, but bottom line is that in both cases, the individuals at hand are humans, deceived by their own hearts, and don’t have the ability to understand all things with wisdom. If we react to the election results by becoming hopelessly depressed about it, or eccstaticly euphoric, then we’d best examine what we really believe about who holds our future. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21) Let your degree of response to this upcoming election be an opportunity to inform your broken soul of misplaced treasure. Turn Around and see that Christ is our only true Hope.
2.) An Unbiblical Response to the Degree of Loss or Winning, and How It May Affect Our Relationships.
Post-election, how will you relate to those whose candidate won or lost? I see a lot of pre-election ugliness right now among believing people, not to mention the general population. I hear of splits in families, distancing among former friends, cold shoulders toward people who would vote for “the other candidate”. I’m hearing hate speech, doomsday prophets and character assassinations. It’s gotten to the point where conversations aren’t open for lively debate anymore, but rather occasions to prove the other person wrong, and to stubbornly insist that we’re right. This is a prescription for relational sabotage.
Remember, a vote is merely someone’s preference….not a sin. It’s an expression of the way someone chooses to do something. A preference to vote for one’s candidate of choice is a right of our citizenship. I have close family members who actively support the other guy, and I have to admit that I think they need their head examined. I start to judge, I let their preference get under my skin, and it begins to affect the way I relate to them. Why? They haven’t sinned against me merely by voting for someone I don’t want to win. Why does their preference personally offend me? I actually feel angry about it sometimes. So, what am I supposed to do with that? Have you experienced a break or strain in a relationship because of the upcoming election? Has someone, who has opposing views, offended you by their speech or actions? Sometimes others’ preferences can become controversial issues which intentionally strike out at us in a hurtful way, or we can be just as blind to the fact that we often impose our unwanted views upon others. These often silent attacks cut just as deeply. In either case, be forewarned that this upcoming election will most probably challenge us to think about how we are called to relate to others whose views and opinions differ from ours. In light of this, what if I don’t feel like continuing to pursue in love, or even want to? Why even bother? It’s more obvious than ever that I don’t share the same political or possibly, the same social views as some of my family and friends. This situation challenges the very essence of the gospel…. reconciliation. Am I willing to pursue those with whom I’ve disagreed about the recent political or social situation?
I can assure you reconciliation is Holy Spirit work. We more than likely won’t feel like doing it, we won’t think it’s fair, and we most likely will think, Why do I have to do all the work? Haven’t they been just as contentious? We’ll be challenged to remember that we’ve been called to move toward people who may be difficult to love, because Christ has done the same for us. He was God, yet He humbled Himself and became a servant, although we didn’t deserve it. I’m not saying it’ll be easy. This is an occasion for us to demonstrate grace to others, and that won’t happen unless humility is present on our part.
A sore loser is someone who cannot accept their loss. They continue to hold grudges, and barely tolerate those who have opposed them. If your candidate is handed a loss, will you be so angry that you’ll forget that our God is the One who really places rulers in their position? Will you be so fearful that you’ll forget who really holds your future?
Or, on the contrary, a boastful winner is someone who gloats over their successes. They love saying, “I told you so.” They delight in their position of winning superiority. If you’re handed a win, will you rub your opponents faces in the proverbial mud? Will you boast of your perceived correct insight?
Whether we win or lose, we need to exhibit humility, and be willing to give free-flowing grace to others in order to foster loving relationships. Humility doesn’t live in the boastful….and giving grace to others doesn’t flow from an angry heart. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:8-9) Even though someone’s vote isn’t a sin, possibly you’ve experienced personal pain because of sinful attitudes or words from them. Turn Around and remember…..the tenor of our relationships speak loudly to the reputation of Christ.
3.) What Does Our Reaction About the Election Outcome, and How We Relate To Others, Say About Our Faith?
The degree to which we’re disappointed or elated about something we hope for speaks to how tightly we’ve held onto that hope. Do I believe that if I get what I want, I’ll be able to sleep more soundly? Yes. If my candidate wins, will I be more content about what my future may hold? Yes. On the other hand, if my guy loses, will I initially think all is lost? Probably. It sounds extreme, doesn’t it? However, this is the way we broken people think, and will react, if we let our hope rest in the wrong place. Just listen to your thoughts or feelings when there’s a possibility of not getting something you want. You get angry, frustrated, impatient, fearful, vindictive, resentful, etc. Those are natural human feelings,….and this election may give you an unwanted outcome. How will you respond? More importantly, how will you carry on relationships that feel strained, or have been damaged, due to political or social opposition? If we no longer feel the need to mend those damaged relationships, then we seriously need to think deeply about our level of intensity toward the hopeful success of our candidate. Have we let the political choice of another person determine the course of the relationship? If so, then it isn’t biblical. Governments, rulers and authorities are temporary, even if it may be difficult to submit to their governance. How I pursue others with Christlike love has an eternal impact for the Kingdom. If our faith doesn’t express itself through love, then we consciously withhold opportunities to illustrate to others who Jesus is.
To be clear, I’m the first one who needs to be transformed by what I’ve written as much as anyone who reads this. I’m affected daily, and sadly become fearful whenever I pass a yard sign, read a billboard, or hear an ad which reminds me of the importance attached to the upcoming election as it portends the future direction of our country. I vacillate between anxiety and anger. These reactions, if held onto for any prolonged period of time, expose my lack of trust in God’s sovereignty. Change won’t be possible unless I pray the words written in the Confession of Sin in my church’s bulletin last Sunday morning:
[Almighty God], By your Spirit, grant me faith to trust Your providence, Your provision, Your rule, Your love, and Your redemption. Merciful God, give me the joy in the assurance that You are God, and that I am Yours through Christ our Lord. Amen