Our Work Hasn't Changed: Christians and the Election
We find ourselves in a time of waiting. As we watch people across the nation celebrating Biden’s victory and others arguing it’s not over yet, as we wait for one president to leave the White House and another to transition in, it’s hard to live in this political space. But here’s something to remember, our work has not changed. What’s required of us right now?
I've been having the best time this semester teaching ethics to college juniors and seniors, and if there's anything the Bible is clear about when it comes to ethics, it's that our lives should mirror Christ's. The way we think, talk, act, and engage should be modeled after Christ's example - politics included. That means we're going to be faced with humility, suffering, and weakness more often than cultural power, prestige, and ascendency. Let's not forget that Jesus said, "If the world hates you, understand that it hated me first" (John 15:18). He wasn't always the most popular person in Jerusalem.
There's a profound tension in Jesus' example of how to conquer the powers of sin and death. It was by sacrificial love that he freed us from our sins and reconciled us to him. In less biblical language, you might call it “winning by losing.” Jesus was willing to lose in the sight of those who only valued worldly power to accomplish the task his father had given him.
This is the kind of misunderstanding we have to be okay with as we follow Christ. Let me be clear about some things, though, this does not mean that we have to bow out of cultural engagement, it does not mean we give up on our civic duty, it does not mean we don’t take advantage of the opportunities we have, it does not mean we don’t do what’s in our best interest, it does not mean we don’t stand up for our rights, it doesn’t mean we don’t vote our consciences, it doesn’t mean we don’t use the power we have to do what’s right. What it does mean is that we use all of our cultural power and all of our political engagement to further the ends of the kingdom. We don’t fight for our own benefit, but because we’ve been given a mission from God - for the good of all people and the hope of the world.
So how do we follow this path in the meantime? In the immediate future, we must seek the truth. That means we should advocate that every vote cast legally should be counted. We have nothing to oppose in a fair election. We have nothing to oppose in legal court battles. Our highest loyalty is not to a political candidate, but to the truth.
When the time comes that the votes have been counted and certified, we accept the results and thank God we live in a Democracy where we get to vote for our leaders. During the Biden administration, we ally ourselves with the things that are good and true and we oppose things that are false and detrimental, no matter which party they come from. Our commitment is to follow the truth wherever it goes.
Second, we must pray for our leaders. In 1 Tim. 2:1-3, Paul reminds us to pray for our leaders, whether they are good or evil, our choice or not. And let’s not forget that the leaders Paul was referring to were far worse and far more oppressive than we can even imagine in the United States.
Begin each day by praying for Trump and Biden, Harris and Pence. Ask God for wisdom, humility, foresight, and protection. Pray that they will all come to know or continue to know and follow God and love him with their whole hearts. Pray for repentance across our nation and for strength for churches and believers in the coming days. Thank God that we live in such a wonderful country and ask him for the courage to continue to do his will no matter the circumstances.
Third, we must love our neighbors. We all know people who voted differently than we did, many who didn’t vote at all. We know those who are willing to write us off for what we believe and others who are frustrated we don’t share their point of view. Take opportunities to talk about what’s going on but don’t lose your cool, and certainly not your friendships, over it. The biggest temptation in the coming days will be to pit truth and love against each other. As Christians, we don’t have that option. We remain faithful to the truth and we speak it in love. Each one of us has the opportunity to make a difference in the way we love our neighbors, and also our enemies, in the coming days.
Finally, we must stay on mission. Our work hasn’t changed. As Christians, we have a mission that is bigger and better than politics. We’ve been called to serve the God of the universe in fulfilling the Great Commission. We are agents of his kingdom here on earth and we know that at some point, on earth or in the new heavens and the new earth, he will reign in perfect justice and goodness. That’s our role and our hope.
As I wrote last week, voting is a tactic. We vote for whoever enables us to fulfill our mission, but the mission never changes. We don’t need any particular person in the Oval Office to accomplish it. Whether we’re fighting different battles or working with different teammates now than we were a year ago, our goals are the same. Our hope isn’t found in the West Wing, but at the foot of the cross. We don’t trust in an occupant of the Oval Office, but in an empty tomb outside of Jerusalem.
We go into 2021 with the assurance that the Kingdom of God will never fail. Opponents, forces of darkness, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. This frees us to engage politically, to fight for justice, and to pursue the goals God has given us using whatever means necessary. That doesn’t minimize the setbacks we might face but gives us the hope, courage, and endurance we need to continue living and serving in a heavenly kingdom that can never be shaken.
Cole Feix is the founder and president of So We Speak. Follow him on Twitter, @cfeix7.