The past 48 hours has been a whirlwind for most of us. If you haven’t heard, there was an election here in the US…and it was kind of a big deal. The one thing most of us have in common is being surprised by the result. Beyond that, we’re all dealing with the polarized emotions of a divided electorate. For some, Mr. Trump’s win leaves you discouraged, sad, even angry. For others, there’s varying degrees of celebration because their “side” won. That’s the nature of our system…and likely those feelings have never been more divided. Perhaps the only other universal emotion is relief – this thing is FINALLY over!
I’ve been processing through this, wondering if it’s even worthwhile to address in some concrete way. I think it is…but not with my words. Consider this from Paul, in a letter written in turbulent political times:
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ…I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God…
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then…I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News…
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Then…[agree] wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others better than yourselves. Don’t look out for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had…
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life…
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and think Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Paul, letter to the Philippians (abridged))
At a very minimum, Paul offers us a little perspective. It’s so easy to get distracted from what matters by flashpoints in our culture. This flashpoint was and is significant – but whether you’re encouraged or disappointed by what’s happened in our political system, the reality is a political system was never meant to provide all that the world really needs. Only God can do that. And if we listen to Paul’s instructions, He will often do that through us.
See, here’s the big-picture: political systems and leaders come and go. (Paul wrote these words sitting in a Roman prison, brought up on charges of sedition under a despotic and brutal Emperor). Our hope must not get tied up in things that are temporary. If you belong to Jesus, you may live here, but you are a citizen of heaven. That means you’ve bought into a different source for hope and life, one that’s not subject to elections or party platforms. Jesus is your model, and He is your hope.
So let’s stand as people of hope – not in political systems or candidates, but in this Good News that we know and believe. Let’s be people of joy. When things are turbulent, we hold firmly to the word that offers life. Only then can we offer stability and peace to a world struggling to find it.
The world is hungry for a real Church that points to a real Jesus who can offer real hope. Let’s go BE that kind of church!