Some Post-Election Thoughts

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded,
set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1:13, ESV)

The dust from Election Day is settling, and there is a President Elect.  While praying for a peaceful transition of power, I also recognize that there is a lot of pain, disappointment, heartache, and grief.  Of course, some are rejoicing that their candidate won, and others are dejected because their candidate lost.  And then you have those who liked neither of the two leading candidates, and while they may be happy that one candidate lost, they can’t quite be happy that the other candidate won.  It’s a really strange time. I didn’t get my sticker for having  voted, but had I a choice, I would have picked this one:

cried

The Social-Media platforms are on fire today with flaming arrows coming from either side.  There are two basic comments being made. Those whose candidate lost are lamenting how these uneducated, unsophisticated, basket of deplorable troglodytes could actually come together to pull off this upset vote.  Those whose candidate won are acting as if the world is finally right again, that Utopia is finally within reach, and that the losing side are finally getting their due.  The thing is, what I’ve just written could have been said regardless of who had won the election, and it will be the reaction every time there is an election of this magnitude.

With this in mind, I thought I’d offer a Pastoral word on avoiding this Post-Election Division and Dysphoria.  These are in no particular order, and since I was up pretty late awaiting the election returns, I simply pray they make some sense to you and are helpful in these coming days.

  1. We need to repent.  Both sides of the ticket.  We have calumniated those we disagree with, assumed they have the worst intentions, and harbored hatred in our hearts.  If you think you haven’t done this, ask yourself, “When did I honestly and sincerely pray for the candidate of the opposing party?”  We tend to objectify those who differ from us politically, and refer to them as “They” or “Them,” and feel no compunction of saying the most vile things about them.  Is this how a Christian should speak of others?  Let us repent, and commit to pray for and support our elected officials, regardless of whether we voted for them.
  2. Avoid two tendencies that are sides of the same coin.  The first is the tendency to vilify the other.  As I mentioned above, this is an easy trap to fall into.  Let us rise above this, for the sake of the grace that has been given to us in Christ Jesus.  Paul writes in Romans 12:14-18, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:14–18).
    The other tendency is to idolize the victor.  Our candidate is the only one who can fix the economy, stop global warming, ensure our liberty, bring and end to war and usher in a season of peace; Our candidate will save the world!  That may seem extreme when all crammed together, but individually, they have all been said at one point or another.  If you’re walking away from the election results thinking that finally the dark clouds have passed and we’re about to enter 4 years of unprecedented growth, peace, and prosperity, then perhaps you’ve put your hopes in the wrong place.
    Let us remember Psalm 146 –
    “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free;” (Psalm 146:3–7, ESV)
  3. Finally, let us not take our eyes off our goal, Jesus Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith.  I’d never survive if my hopes and fears were answered by the 2-year/4-year cycles of political elections.  All the promises made and broken, all the mud-slinging and campaigning – it gets to be too much. I heard someone today (the day after the election!) say something about the next presidential campaign starting a year from now.  Lord help us!
    Rather than ride these waves of the political storm, let us fix our eyes on Jesus.  Let us be the righteous ones who are like tree planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:3): firm, fixed, unwavering, unmovable.  Let us pursue the righteousness of Christ, that we may shine like the brightness of the sky above… like the stars forever and ever.  Let us grow in maturity in Christ, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14).

Knowing that Christ is our Lord and King, and that all these earthly kingdoms will rise and fall, let us walk in faith and obedience before him, loving Him by loving one another.  His reign is forever, and His power is great.  Therefore, keep calm, and carry on in faith!

Grace and peace,

SDG

Facing the Reality of Evil

“Then the dragon became furious with the woman
and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring,
on those who keep the commandments of God
and hold to the testimony of Jesus”
(Revelation 12:17)

October 1, 2015 brought us another school shooting; this time, at a community college in Oregon.  The shooter in this horrific tragedy reportedly asked his victims if they were Christian, and shot those who answered “Yes.” In all, 9 were killed, and 9 others wounded.

Setting aside all the political debate that has arisen from this, what we can say for certain is this: we are witnessing evil in this world, and our hearts are crying out for an answer. Politicians will debate this to try to find the best policy (either to fix the problem or get them re-elected); that’s what politicians do.  As I wrote in my previous post, it is the role of the pastor to stand in the middle of such senselessness and point to the end of the story, and the One who has written it.

I’m currently in the middle of reading a rather long commentary on Revelation. I realize that doesn’t sound like the most exciting reading. In the light of recent events, however, Revelation and the commentary speak powerfully to our lives today.  Consider this:

The victory won through Christ’s blood must be the basis, not only for the saints’ earthly victory, but also for Michael’s triumph in heaven. V 11 summarizes the purpose of the whole chapter and especially of vv 7-12. The single intent… is to assure those who meet satanic evil on earth that it is really a defeated power, however contrary it might seem to human experience. Christians can be assured that the serpent begins to battle against their bodies only after he has lost the battle over their souls. This expresses one of the major themes of the book: the suffering of Christians is a sign, not of Satan’s victory, but of the saints’ victory over Satan because of their belief in the triumph of the cross, with which their suffering identifies them.

If the devil’s accusations had been effective with God, then all of God’s people would have been cast from his presence and would have begun to experience the anguish of the final judgment, which would be consummated at the Last Day. Instead, the devil was cast out from heaven, because his charges had become groundless. The saints’ status in heaven has been legitimized finally by Christ’s suffering on the cross. All believers, past, present, and future, have overcome the devil because of the blood of the Lamb.

How have they overcome the devil? Through Christ’s death they have been declared not guilty of the accusations launched against them. Therefore they are exempt from the ultimate punishment. Satan’s accusations are unable to unleash the infliction of the “second death.”

Beale, G.K., The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation. (Eerdmans Pub Co, Grand Rapids MI, 1999) Pg663-4.

What you’ll hear from the politician is this shooting is evidence that we need better gun-control, better health-care, better control of such “toxic-masculinity” (whatever that is).  What we need, they’ll tell you, is for the government to fix this; we need a stronger, more powerful, state.

The reality is, Satan has been cast down, and he is raging against the church until he is finally conquered by Christ (Revelation 12). As the old hymn goes:

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure…

This is the reality of the evil we face today, but is also the reality of our conquering King Jesus the Christ.  This evil will continue to rage against His rule until the very end, and our only hope in the face of such evil is found in Christ our King, the one who died and is alive forevermore.  You won’t hear that from your politicians.