[This post was originally written in 2012. I’ve tweaked just a few words, but it’s just as true today as it was 4 years ago!]
I already know the results of tomorrow’s election. Call it divine clarity. Call it a spiritual gift of prophetic vision. I actually don’t care what you call it, but the fact remains: I know the outcome of the election, and I know I’m right.
Here it is: Wednesday morning, millions of Americans will wake up fearful, sad and even angry.
Of course, if you have been engaged with year’s election at all (and it’s been hard to avoid it!), you know how contentious things have been. In my 42 years of living, spanning 13 presidential elections (including eight that I remember, seven that I remember moderately well) I have never seen one being so filled with animosity. The anger, condemnation and verbal beatings exchanged online, in businesses and over office water coolers has been unprecedented. And because of that, I’m confident of this: The “losing” team will not be happy come Wednesday morning.
So what are we supposed to do Wednesday morning? Here are a few commitments each of us should make, regardless of our party affiliations.
- Pray for your leaders: Nothing is simpler, yet has more power to create change, than praying for leaders. For some reason we only employ this tactic when our candidate doesn’t win, basically praying prayers for God to remove the other guy at the next election. Paul reminds us that prayers are to be offered for everyone in authority, all the time: “our guy (or gal!)” or not! On Wednesday, whatever the outcome, commit to pray. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -- for kings and all those in authority...” (1 Timothy 2:1).
- Respect those in leadership: It’s Peter that reminds us to “show proper respect to everyone” (1 Peter 2:17), yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something like this on facebook: “I know I’m supposed to respect the president, but....” But? There is no “but” clause in 1 Peter 2:17, or in Romans 13:7 where we are commanded to respect and honor those in authority. The point is this: Don’t “but” your way out of obedience. President Trump or President Clinton, it doesn’t matter, we owe them respect and honor. You don’t have to like their politics or policies, but you don’t have permission to badmouth them to coworkers, social media audiences or family members. Show respect to your leaders for the position they hold, even if you didn’t vote them there. I think we have a duty to fight for the right leaders (see also: #1 above), to converse (strongly), debate (graciously) and vote our conscience in light of Scripture. We don’t have the right to tear down God-appointed leaders. You don’t have to like him (or her), but you do have to respect them.
- Live for Jesus, not for a political party: I sometimes worry that believers on both sides of the political spectrum put more faith in the political process than they do the life-changing process of Christ. Your party may have won the White House this week, but only Jesus can win/change the hearts of people. (Romans 2:29, 6:17, Ephesians 1:18) Don’t get lost in celebrating or mourning Tuesday’s election results, believing that hearts will move toward (or away!) from God and His standard because of who is sitting in the Oval Office. Yes, some politicians and policies can create an environment that frees or loosens the public expression of the Gospel, but none of them can contain, limit or strengthen the work of God! Live for Jesus and promote the Gospel, don’t live for your politics to promote a party unless it allows you a better position to share Jesus.
- Make joy your daily habit: If your party wins on Tuesday, joy will be a whole easier on Wednesday. But it shouldn’t be. Joy should be your daily habit, whether your guy or gal is president or not. Why? Because Jesus is your king! Paul told us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) Win or lose on Tuesday, make joy your response on Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday... Jesus will still be king. In the midst of the political storms, joy could be your greatest witnessing tool.
Will you make these four commitments on Wednesday morning? Will you continue them on Thursday, regardless of the outcome of this year’s election? Politics is serious business, and the election (appointment) of the president of the United Sates (or whatever country/official rules in your home land) is not to be taken lightly. I'm voting my conscience tomorrow on a number of offices and issues, and I hope you are, too. But I'm putting my trust in the God who changes hearts whether my candidate wins or loses.
Put your name in the comments if you will commit to prayer, respect, life and joy.
So go ahead, take the plunge, life–including politics–is always better on the water!