I have written two posts about the election that I decided not to post – I have post-election burnout and they haven’t even started counting votes. I can’t wait for it to all be over, except for the reality that we are picking a leader for our nation for the next few years. There’s so much that troubles me about this, but I’ve come to the opinion that further discussion is pointless. There’s more talking than listening going on, more anger than reason, more division than reconciliation, and I’m pretty sure that I’m more likely to give offense than to sway opinions.
My real burden all along has been for the church of Jesus Christ and our walk of grace and holiness in this world. On Wednesday, America will have a new president-elect (probably). It will be someone I do not respect and do not feel is qualified to be president – I won’t be rejoicing whatever happens. I am about 97% convinced Hillary Clinton is going to win this thing – probably easily enough that she will gloat and crow about a mandate. I will be turning the channel when she speaks – I genuinely, viscerally dislike that woman. If Trump pulls off the upset, I might be only slightly less displeased. For me, it is like when the Seattle Seahawks played the New England Communists in the Super Bowl – I’ve got no one to root for.
Our True Citizenship
I’m not trying to pick a fight but to make a point. Tomorrow, America will elect a candidate I don’t like, don’t believe is qualified to be president, don’t believe is an honest person of noble character, and is someone I will not have voted for.
Having said all of that, I want to make a simple point, with some follow-up applications.
In Philippians 3:20, Paul said, “our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a savior from there...” He was not engaging in any kind of ministerial hyperbole. I am a loyal American. I bleed red, white, and blue. But when I was born again, I was called to a higher citizenship, a heavenly citizenship, and that is where my ultimate passion must be. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul reminds us that we are “ambassadors for Christ.” We represent him.
In our patriotic and partisan zeal, we must stay loyal to our ultimate ruler, our King. We must maintain our proper passion for Christ’s kingdom and our proper priority for representing him. Being Republican, Democrat, or something else, even being American, must take a back seat to being Christian, to glorifying Christ in all that we do.
I am not convinced we have always done that well.
Applying The Principle
Here are some biblically-based principles that I am not sure we have always remembered in the church. As the day after the election approaches, and before this becomes a specific and one-sided rebuke, permit me to make a few points.
1. Show some respect.
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. 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:1-2
This has been a problem in the church since the first Clinton go-round. Because the president was pro-abortion, a philanderer, and not on “our side” in most issues, the Christian world declared by our actions and attitudes that these verses not longer applied. Showing respect for authority was not necessary. We were allowed to speak vile words of insult against “Billary” and later against President Obama because, after all, this is America.
Never mind that Paul wrote these admonitions under a government headed by men that make Bill, Hillary, and Barack look like Sunday School teachers. Openly hostile, violent, wicked, depraved – the Romans leaders were the real deal in sin! But every time I have reminded people of the call of Scripture to pray for leaders and to submit to them respectfully, I’ve been told that either our American democracy negates that admonition or the wickedness of the (Democrat) politicians does.
We have an American right to dissent from our government, to disagree with its policies and its laws. We should exercise that right. But withering insult and derogatory, demeaning name-calling are not godly – they are sin. There are lines we should not cross.
I have said some pretty harsh things about both Hillary and Donald on this site and on my personal blog. I can tell you that when one of them gets elected I will honor him or more likely her with my words – or at least with my silence. I may write a post criticizing the policies or actions of the president, but I will not engage in name-calling, rumor-spreading, meme-sharing personal insults against the leader that Romans 13 tells us God has put in place for his purposes.
Side note: For the love of all that is holy, could we stop with the “Killary?” It’s not witty, it’s not helpful, and if she gets elected on Tuesday, it’s disrespectful. We can do better. To honor our Savior, we must.
2. Thou shalt not lie.
Actually, the 8th commandment forbids bearing false witness, but the effect is pretty much the same. We are to be speakers of truth. Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). We should not traffic in the language the enemy speaks.
I hate to break it to you, but most of the “news” that gets passed around the internet is either made up out of whole cloth or so twisted and inflated that it has little relationship to actual events. The internet lies, folks. If you are on social media, you have retweeted, shared, or forwarded a lie. You probably didn’t mean to do it, but you did anyway. When you realize you’ve done it, apologize, correct it, and move on. Remember, even major news organizations have been fooled.
But you have a responsibility to the truth, my redeemed friend. No matter how juicy that tidbit is about Hillary, no matter how much it feeds into your beliefs about her evil heart, it is wrong to share lies, to pass on false rumors, gossip, and conspiracies. And the sad fact is that right wing news sites have become hotbeds of disinformation. The same is true of left-wing sites. They subject truth to their agenda.
We must not tell lies.
Before you post, repost, share, or forward something, you are responsible to check it out to see that it is true and that it fairly represents the facts. There are sites that help with fact checking, but until you KNOW something is true, don’t share it. Assume that “news reports” that give information you LIKE are as biased as the ones that give information that you DON’T LIKE.
Speak the truth in love, even on social media.
3. The world is watching.
It is tempting, when I’m angry about something, to pop on social media and let ‘er rip. Most people know that I joke around a lot and much of what I write is meant in jest. But some people don’t get it. I was rebuked recently by a pastor who doesn’t know me for something I said on Facebook. Another time, a lady questioned my faith because I expressed disdain for the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team. Many people who read your posts won’t understand your humor, won’t get that you were joking.
We’ve got to ask ourselves whether what we post honors Christ.
Remember, the world is watching what you post. Yes, most of your friends are Christians, but many are not. When you post vicious and vile words about Hillary, or about Democrats, engage in name-calling and character assassination, it does not convince them of your point, but only feeds their prejudices about Christians.
If our primary concern is the kingdom of God then we will wash our words through a spiritual screen to make sure they represent the love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness of the Spirit, not the works of the flesh. Can we express our opinions? I think so. We should. But we must avoid the kind of rhetoric that has all too often marked the church.
Remember, the world is watching. And judging.
4. Walk the Walk.
We walk by faith and not by sight. Our sight tells us the world is going to h-e-double-hockey-sticks in a handbasket, but the word tells us that God is sovereign and is working out his plan. It seems like Satan is winning the day, but the word tells us that he has lost and that Jesus will stand supreme.
We must walk by faith, not by sight, and show the world what a peace that passes understanding really is. We need to show the world we still believe Psalm 27:1.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
Stop acting like Hillary winning is the end of the world. And if it is, Maranatha!
5. Group hug.
This election stands unique in recent memory. The conservative Christian world has always united around a candidate with a few mavericks going a different direction. But this year there has been a sharp conflict between those who have rallied behind Donald Trump and those who refuse to do so. Being a NeverTrumper, I’ve seen the vile slander, the accusations, the harassment, and the personal insults lodged against those on our side by those who support Donald Trump – firsthand. I should have saved my own personal “Hall of Fame” of insulting comments directed against me. But Trump supporters tell me they feel equally insulted by those of us who feel voting for Trump is an act contrary to biblical values.
On Wednesday, it is not only the nation that will be divided but the church.
We need to find a way to come together. We need to cover offense with grace. I’m not sure we will ever come to an agreement over who fired the first shot, who was more guilty, who did what to whom, but we can agree that grace is greater than our sins. We can agree that love covers a multitude of sins. And we can join hands together with all the redeemed, regardless of political stance, to serve God.
There are some political differences that must be worked out because they touch on who we are in Christ. We must decide how we are going to treat the strangers and refugees among us. There’s little argument as to whether abortion is right or wrong, but there is disagreement over whether it is the only issue that matters. Some say abortion trumps every other issue. Others believe that racism, injustice, and other sins stain the church and the nation in the same way abortion does. We have a host of differences.
But we have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism; one God and Father of us all.
The days ahead are going to be tough. If the church of Jesus Christ in America continues its fracturing, things will only get tougher. It is time for us to come together, put this election behind us, and renew our commitment to the work of Christ.
And whatever comes tomorrow, let’s behave personally and publicly as if we actually believe the words of Scripture that God is in control and that he is working all things for the good of those who love him. Let’s walk by faith and not by sight.
Let’s show the world our faith, not our dismay.