Really Quick-Blog #7: Post-Election Blues and Celebrations

Welp, Obama won. Depending on which one of my friends and family you ask, this was either a catastrophe or a brilliant victory. I have my leanings in one direction, but that’s neither here nor there. Last night, as the results were pouring in, I had a bit of realization. I was on facebook, of course, and I was seeing both the dismay or the jubilation on full display in updates of varying maturity and I decided to start a post.

It was a post I still believe in, one telling people that no matter who won, the call was still the same, to pray for him and show him honor. (1 Tim 2:1-2) It was basically a rehash of one point in my post on what people should be doing on election day. It was at that point though, that a wonderful loved one, who shall remain nameless, called me out on my crap. See, in my haste to recover from my youthful, political semi-idolatry and my pastoral instinct to call people back to trust in Christ no matter what circumstance, I had forgotten some things: people are human and elections do matter.

What do I mean by that? I mean, people are human. They have human reactions like fear, joy, heartache, delight, hope, and dismay. These emotions are okay to have in measure. Yes, Jesus is still king, on the throne, ruling, reigning, and bringing all things to a glorious end, and yes, I believe that this election was part of his sovereign lordship of history. Still, some are legitimately sad, worried, and frustrated because of convictions about life, religious freedom, and economic decisions that will affect the jobs of people they know and love. And, yes, some are legitimately happy because of convictions in largely the same areas in the opposite direction. This isn’t to say they’re equally right. They’re not. Truth isn’t like that.

Still, it is to say that while eternal realities are to be our ground, our hope, our life, it’s okay to have reactions to human, historical ones–Jesus did too. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He was angered at the money-changers in the Temple. He was delighted by children. He was joyful at the faith of the Centurion. These were human, historical realities, none of which was a surprise to the sovereign God, but at which Jesus rejoiced and grieved.

Where am I going with this? Well, first, I’m saying that last night I was very close to being a sanctimonious ass (in the donkey sense). Me posting what I was going to would have been just a dumb, insensitive, holier-than-thou move. (Not saying anything about other posts of the same vein. Just mine.) I am also saying that it’s okay to grieve for a bit. It’s okay to celebrate too. It’s human and history does matter.

If I may still speak something into the situation, I would just encourage you to consider how you do those things.

To the jubilant, the rejoicing, those who believe that Obama is the right man for the job, and that his economic, moral, and social policies (or at least some of them), are what this country needs right now, it’s okay to be happy, but be careful who you boast in and how you boast.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23-24)

Again, all righteousness, truth, justice that you think this President will usher in, the ultimate source is the LORD. Thank him, and don’t rub it in the face of those who’ve lost.

To the broken, the anxious, the grieving, those who believe that Romney would have been better, and that his economic, moral, and social policies (or at least some of them), are what this country needs right now, it’s okay to grieve, but I would remind you that in all the situations in which Christians should rightly grieve, Paul tells us that you don’t have to “grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thes 4:13)  In the context, Paul is talking about the death of loved ones and resurrection, but for the God who is sovereign over death, nothing is too small, not even American history. You can trust and hope in him.

Well, hopefully I managed to get that out with a minimum of sanctimoniousness. If I didn’t, well, this blog is Reformedish–He’s still working on me.

Soli Deo Gloria

Ps. If you are looking to pray for the President, Kevin DeYoung has written out a simple, faithful prayer as a model to use.

Quick-Blog #6 – Some Things to Do on Election Day

Aside from some silly, live, Facebook commentary on the debates, I haven’t spoken much about the election this year. I had a few reasons for this:

  1. My job makes it so that people automatically connect my personal judgments with an endorsement by my church and I don’t want to do that. I am sick to death of people conflating the Gospel with some particular political program. If I hear one more pastor, or church perverting the good news by making it about some lordship other than Christ’s, I’m going to snap.
  2. I am a recovering political junkie, so I decided to take this election off.  (I am still voting, though. More on that below.)
  3. Let’s be honest, I’m too busy otherwise.

Still, I figured it’d be appropriate to very quickly jot down some things you might try this Tuesday:

1. Calm down and remember that no matter who wins, Christ remains Lord.

Seriously, this is not some cheesy “Oh, God is still in control” shtick that doesn’t acknowledge the real, political implications of these elections. I get it, there are serious issues at stake. Still, at the heart of the Gospel is the acknowledgement that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.”(Rom 1:4) This is what you confess in order to be saved: that Christ is the risen Lord. (Rom 10:9) The good news is that he is risen and reigning over all things in heaven and on earth, even now, no matter who wins. Michael Horton reminds us that, “United to Christ, we should be the most responsible and the least fearful people at the polls on November 6, 2012, because our King already achieved his landslide victory in Jerusalem during Passover, AD 33.” So, no matter who wins on Tuesday, keep your head, Christ is Lord.

2. Pray for your leaders like the Bible tells you to.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”(1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Paul instructs Timothy to makes sure the congregation at Ephesus was praying for “kings and all who are in high positions.” If you’re going to claim to take the Bible seriously, then pray for your leaders no matter who they are. Paul was writing this about the Roman Emperors, not godly, Christian kings, but pagans who were persecuting Christians. Peter similarly tells Christians to “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.“(1 Peter 2:17)  In the context of great persecution, Peter tells them to “honor the emperor.”

Instead of freaking out and bemoaning the election, or re-election, of “that guy”, pray for him. If you’re really interested in being a witness in our culture, lay off of the conspiracy-theory emails about a take-over of the country by “them”, whatever that group consists of in your mind, and pray that God would give wisdom, grace, and salvation to whomever comes into, or remains, in office. Remember, we are to lead a “peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way”, not a panic-stricken and hysterical one.

3. Vote.

I’ve got a buddy who’s got some decent reasons for casting a blank ballot this Tuesday. I hear him and respect a position like his. Still, I do think that part of our responsibilities in being a good neighbor is voting for the common good, seeking the welfare of the city. (Jer. 29:7) We don’t do this to give our allegiance to the candidates because, in the end, our ultimate allegiance is to Christ alone, the living Lord of the universe. We do this in obedience to Christ, for the same reason we pay taxes, in order to live quiet, peaceable lives, giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. (1 Tim 2:2; Mark 12:17; Rom. 13:7)

4. Ask Forgiveness, Repent, and remember the Body of Christ.

Let’s be honest, too much of the American church has jacked up on this election. Far too many of us have been quick to tear apart the unity of the body of Christ for the sake of a political program. Christ made us one in himself. This was his prayer for us (John 17:21), and instead of living out that unity, we’ve been quick to vilify, reject, oppose, and refuse to recognize the Christian identity of those we disagree with politically. Echoing Paul, Brian Zahnd asks, “Is Christ divided? Was Obama crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Romney?” No. Christ is the only one who has done these things. He is the hope of the world. He is the light in the darkness. His kingdom is the one that will never fail and has no end. His reign is the reality on which our lives depend. His life is the one that draws us together, in himself, and made us citizens of a better country. (Heb. 11:16)

So, after you vote, or before, or maybe even today, take some time consider this truth. Stop, ask yourself if, in the heat of the election, you’ve forgotten that, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4:4-6)

If so, you need to stop, repent, and ask forgiveness. Remember that in Christ you all are one, no matter how you vote–so ACT LIKE IT. Love each other. Treat each other with respect. You know–act like you believe the Gospel.

Bottom-line is this: don’t forget the Gospel this Tuesday.

Soli Deo Gloria