Today as I was voting, I gazed back eight years to that 2000 election. The world in 2000 had twin towers hovering over Manhattan and Saddam Hussein ruthlessly ruling over Iraq. 2000 had a stock market climbing up and unemployment going down. 2000 did not have an “Inconvenient Truth,” but with cheaper gasoline, big SUV’s were all the rage, truthfully being more convenient on the pocketbook.
Sure, we had another presidential election only four years ago, but it served as mere prelude to the epic road to Pennsylvania Avenue that culminates today. Swift boats have been replaced by swing states. People named “Joe” have become Political mainstays (Joe “the Plumber”, Joe “Six Pack”, Joe Biden). Political personalities have triumphed over experience on both tickets and both sides are calling for change, even if they cannot articulate what that change is.
In the midst of all this, like me, you are probably watching the results of this election closely. Like me, if you voted today, you have already picked your “side” in this national argument. Contrary to the claims of some, you can be a born again Christian and vote for either side without “leaving Jesus out of the voting booth” or walking into sin. I know godly men and women who have voted on either side of this election. Believe it or not, Ephesians 2:8-9 does not say in the original Greek, “For it is by grace (and your voting record) that you are saved through faith.” Some look at McCain’s stance on abortion and traditional marriage and based on his policies in this category vote for him to be our next President. Others look at Obama’s plans to help the underprivileged and struggling in the U.S. and our position in foreign policy and on that basis, vote for him. In both cases, they are voting on the “issues,” just different issues … and Christ has something to say about both. Sure, you can disagree with the effectiveness of the plans for either candidate. Some who choose not to make the abortion issue their voting litmus test look to the fact that for 23 of the 35 years that abortion has been legal in this country, a Republican has sat in the Oval Office… and still we have abortion. They would argue that perhaps there is a better way to effect change in this area beyond the White House. Some who choose to not buy Obama’s entitlements, point to the failure of similar policies in the past and the overall price tag of such programs. These are good discussions about the issues, and I know solid believers who fall on either side.
I think at some point in the last 20 years, evangelical Christians in the U.S. have tried to marry their religion to a party or a candidate. This rarely ever works out. Remember the Mel Gibson controversy that surrounded the release of the “Passion of the Christ”? Christians were so excited to have “one of us” making a big budget Hollywood film about the most significant man who ever lived, that many blindly rushed to his defense upon claims that he was anti-semitic. Now, claims that he was anti-semitic based on the film were not truthful, but time (and a subsequent arrest) have shown that Mr. Gibson does in fact struggle with anti-semitic patterns and behavior. Similar things can happen with politicians. It is dangerous to attach ourselves to a politician from either party and assume that they are always speaking gospel truth. In reality, they are flawed men and women and God’s Word, not party rhetoric should always be our final source for truth.
As the election results pour in tonight, I have two prayers:
1) That Christians in this country would not tear each other apart over this election, whoever wins. As a member of the “Facebook” social networking web site, I have seen countless people jib and jab each other over politics the past few months. The sad thing is, some of the jibbing and jabbing (and name calling) has come from one Christian to the next. Surely the blood of Christ can provide more unity than the electoral college! Whoever wins, I pray that the Body of Christ would be a model for unity in this increasingly divided country.
2) That Christians across our nation will not read too much into this election. Our Rock is secure no matter who wins. Regardless of how you determine the “good guys” and the “bad guys” in this election, remember the church has always flourished amidst different government types. In fact, in the early days of the church in the Roman Empire, the church continued to grow numerically under evil rulers like Nero (the leader who was over the government in Rome when Paul wrote Romans 13 about submitting to your government), but began to stagnate and head into the “Dark Ages” when Christianity was legalized and mandated by the newly converted Constantine. Sure, the persecutions stopped under Constantine, but it can be debated about which environment was “better” for the church to grow in. So however, the election ends tonight (whether your “Constantine” wins or your “Nero” wins), remember, God is not defeated or stifled by either. Tomorrow morning, God is still God, the church is still the church, and our mission is still the same. Upon these things, no recount is necessary.