Truth be told, that title might be a little misleading. The fact is there are innumerable ways in which this election cycle has seriously aggravated me. Nevertheless, because I acknowledge God’s sovereignty over even the worst of seasons in American society and politics, I am compelled to consider how the course of events leading up to and including tomorrow’s election have been “for the good of those who love him” (Rom. 8:29). And for that reason, here are 4 ways this election encourages me, and hopefully they will do the same for you.
1) This election demonstrates to me that putting inordinate trust in human governors/government is a fool’s errand.
Now, there is nothing wrong with supporting a candidate and/or trusting him or her to execute the duties of the office. But as Americans we often put more stock in our politicians than we ought by naively placing our hopes, dreams, and livelihoods on their backs. And in the church, especially among the so-called ‘Religious Right’, this is exacerbated, since we are prone to seek political power for spiritual purposes, thinking that the kingdom of God will come via the kingdom of ‘Merica. We, therefore, end up crafting our political leaders into messiah-like figures (or anti-messiah-like figures, as the case may be), upon whom our own success or failure in life depends – not to mention the vitality of the church and even the end of the world.
Thus, Psalm 146:3-4 has a very important message for us, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breathe departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” The psalmist – who happened to live under a monarch, not a democratically-elected president – warns the people of God to not put inordinate trust in a political leader, outlining 4 reasons why: 1) he is just a man, 2) he cannot save, 3) he is mortal, and 4) his plans are temporary. For these reasons it is foolish to wed our hope and trust with a political candidate. In contrast, the psalmist says, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (146:5).
So, whether you’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or someone else, be aware of the degree of trust you’re putting in this person. Can he or she really deliver on the promises they’ve made, or fulfill the hope you’re placing in him or her? The psalmist’s exhortation – along with the testimony of the people of God, who for millennia have endured under secular, tyrannical, and occasionally just governments – encourages me that my ultimate hope and faith is best put not in a human governor, but in the only one who will never step down from his throne (146:10), the Lord our God.
2) This election shows me that Jesus is a true and better president (or king, to be more precise).
One of the leading story lines throughout this election has been the character (or temperament) of the major party candidates. On either side of the aisle there is a mountain-sized dung hill of distrust and dislike towards the other party’s candidate. And considering that the unfavorable ratings of these two are historically high, it’s quite clear that many American’s don’t like one, or the other, or both of them ‘big-league’ (or is it ‘bigly’?).
As some have put it, America has a choice between corrupt and crude. Morally speaking, neither so-called ‘Crooked Hillary’ nor ‘Dangerous Donald’ is a perfect candidate, but out of the nearly two dozen Democratic and Republican primary candidates (somehow) these are the last two standing. So, do you prefer a dishonest Washington elite or a billionaire celebrity playboy?
The abysmal choice before us highlights the greatness of Jesus Christ, the promised Davidic king, whose kingdom will never end. He will never be impeached, and his character never impugned. He sympathizes with the suffering and is kind to all. He encourages the faint-hearted and has compassion on the destitute. He is gracious and forgiving, but will by no means clear the guilty. His wisdom is like no other, and his judgments are right and true. And though you and I didn’t vote for him, he’s the best representative we will ever have.
3) This election reminds me that when Jesus returns perfect justice will be done and everlasting peace will ensue.
Life in America has been pretty crazy the last few years. In many ways our country appears to be tearing apart at the seams. For instance, all things race-related are at a boiling point, and criminal justice and law enforcement seem like constant sources of strife. Whether its Ferguson, Atlanta, or Dallas, things ain’t right. Police are killing citizens, and citizens are killing police. #blacklivesmatter supporters protest and riot, and #alllivesmatter supporters taunt in return. The slightest offenses are blown up as major attacks, and serious problems are shrunk down as minor infractions. Like our father Adam, all of us are quick to pass blame, rather than taking responsibility. Others social issues such as sexuality and marriage equality also remain contentious and seem increasingly inflammatory. Terrorism as well continues to be an ever-present threat. And who could forget the tensions over immigration?
Needless to say, justice and peace seem like elusive ideals these days. We can’t even manage to get two noble and respectable presidential nominees without fighting about it. Whether it’s on Twitter or at a Trump rally, punches are thrown. The lines have been drawn, the choices are clear, and the rhetorical hand grenades black out the sun as they pass over your head and land in your lap, rarely demolishing arguments but frequently rearming emotional supporters. And anyone in ‘no man’s land’ might as well be dead, because the middle is fast-disappearing turf; since, as far as either side is concerned, you’re on the opposing side.
Such times force me to consider the bigger picture and the end of the story. They remind me that Jesus is making all things new. He will right every wrong. He will punish the wicked and reward the righteous. In his kingdom there will be no more tears, crying, or pain; no more death, division, or debts. Shalom will be restored. Come, Lord Jesus.
4) This election convinces me that, as American culture drifts further from God’s designs and society becomes a more diverse and complex terrain to navigate, the church will have increasing opportunities to display a better, albeit maligned, way of living; that is, a Christian way of living.
As we endure November 8th and wake up November 9th, in some ways our national nightmare (that is, the 2016 presidential election) will be over, and in some ways it will be just beginning. But whatever happens, God will still be God, the church will still be the church, and America will still be America. Therefore, let us not be either discouraged or enraged by a displaced nostalgia of bygone years in the U.S.A. Let us not begrudge the social and political hardships that may lie ahead of us. Let us not shrink back from situations we may face that are fraught with moral ambiguities and moral absolutes. Let us not presume Christianity will triumph through legislation or accept a defeatist mentality, thinking no good can come of our standing for righteousness and love for God and neighbor.
Though our way of life – in the shadow of the cross, in the light of the resurrection, under the authority of Scripture, and submitted to God – will be seen as folly by some and as a stumbling block by others, let us resolve to be a light to the nations, even if that includes our own, the United States of America.