Faithful Political Engagement: Post-Election Unity
It’s difficult to be non-partisan; it’s downright impossible to do so immediately following an election. As the dust of November 6th settles, what can we – as rational Christians from every piece of the political spectrum – agree on?
Everyone should support President Obama.
Regardless of what your ticket looked like a few days ago, this election is finished. Despite the horribly divisive campaigns run by both major party candidates, now is the time to file that rhetoric into the same mental slot that Gangnam Style will land in by Christmas. As disasters of all types (natural, economic, foreign affairs, and more) loom ever nearer, this is hardly the time that we can be stuck lobbing outdated arguments and insults at each other that, at this point, serve only to stoke a dying flame of frustration. We cannot afford to be a country divided.
If you voted for Gov. Romney, take this one opportunity to follow his lead: respect the process, the office, and the humanity of the man who has been re-elected (for example, it was a model of class to stream the President’s victory speech on Romney’s campaign website). The POTUS has, arguably, the most difficult job on the planet and needs all the prayer and support he can get (this should be doubly affirmed from the perspective of a citizen who did not vote for him). This does not mean we must always agree with President Obama, but we should approach every debate “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
God is sovereign.
While it is not surprising to many that President Obama won another term, it is certainly no surprise to the omniscient God we worship.
We can pick our favorite proof-texts here about how good Christians are to be subject to the authorities placed above us (Romans 13:1 is a popular one, as is Mark 12:17 or Titus 3:1-2), but allow me to suggest something different to give everyone (especially would-be Romney supporters) hope: Isaiah 45:1. A remarkably specific prophecy, this passage foretells of the Persian king Cyrus who would be called “God’s anointed” (a.k.a. “messiah”) for his willful role in bringing about God’s purposes on Earth. Cyrus was hardly a believer in the One True God, but he was still positioned in a place of political authority such that he could work out God’s plans in a definite way.
President Obama (and every other elected official, for that matter) has been placed in a position of authority; if Cyrus is any indication, then the personal beliefs of a leader need not necessarily align with truth in order for them to still bring about God’s will. (And please don’t misunderstand: this is certainly not to suggest that President Obama is a “messiah” any more than any other person called by God to serve a particular purpose is!) Even if you find it hard to trust the President, you should trust that God knows what He’s (and he’s) doing.
Jesus is King.
Leading up to Tuesday, there was a considerable amount of Christian rhetoric criticizing the political process in its entirety because “Jesus is the Only True King.” To be clear: this statement is not wrong. However, last week this was frequently proclaimed as a justification for disengaging from the election on the grounds that participation would somehow dilute one’s primary allegiance to the Sovereign Christ. That conclusion is less clear. We have, as citizens of a secular nation, simply done what is necessary to keep this country moving – not because we believe that America is the final hope of the world, but because we like living here and wanted to have our Christian voices heard. This is the essence of faithful political engagement: diligently operating within a culture to move that culture closer to God.
What has been done (or not done) with our ballots is settled and we have in no way committed ourselves to valuing the this-worldly concerns of an artifact of the Fall (imperfect leadership) over those things that are transcendent. Throughout the election, Jesus’ ultimate supremacy (Col. 1:18) has never been challenged – but He was never running for President. The authority of Christ was not decided by a democratically-flavored process and is not in question. True change – genuine working for the Common Good – will certainly come from His Body, not the State. There is only one person before whom we will all one day make an account of ourselves (2 Cor. 5:10) and His house is not white – it’s golden.
Now is not the time to stop praying. If anything, we should do harder than ever.
God is in control. We must remember where our allegiance truly lies. There is work to be done.