As I have watched this political season (all ten billion years of it) unfold, I have been guilty of getting wrapped up in the debates, the mud-slinging, and the hand-wringing over the candidates, the Supreme Court, and the future of our nation. However, while in a reflective mood this morning after a conversation with friends last night, I concluded that such embroilment is foolish at best and destructive at worst. Not that we shouldn’t be engaged, but that, as Christians, we should be careful in how we engage and to what ends. As important as the political process is, especially in a democratic republic like the U.S., it is not all-encompassing. Here, with encouragement from the Psalms, are three things to remember this election day:
1. Christ’s Sovereignty
No matter who is elected to sit in the White House, Congress, or any other political seat today, Christ is on his throne. Scripture is replete with reminders of this but Psalm 2 is particularly apt:
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
We do not have to fret, we do not have to worry: God has set His King over His Kingdom and nothing that takes place here will ever change that. In fact, the mere suggestion that it might makes God laugh. Christian, do not fear what your Lord laughs at.
2. The Christian’s Hope
We are never told in Scripture to place our hope in political engagement or in political power. Instead, we are reminded time and time again that our hope is in Christ, in God’s plan for the ages, and in his love for his people. Consider Psalm 20:
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
As Christians, we should recognize the absurdity of hoping for eternally significant results from temporally limited processes and people. We can be certain that the hand of God is moving in history, guiding, shepherding, and ultimately accomplishing his goal: the restoration of all things.
3. The Church’s Mission
Many, myself included, have rushed to speak our minds on politics. There’s a place for that. But not at the expense of declaring the gospel to the world. Stumping for a particular candidate, platform, or perspective has served, in large measure, to distract many American Christians from what matters: fulfilling the Great Commission. Just look at God’s vision for his people’s political declarations in Psalm 96:
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods…Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”
We are not called to “say among the nations (our particular political views)” but the good news that “the Lord reigns!” We can engage in political conversation, we can share our views, we can and should vote, but we should not do so at the expense of declaring the gospel. And we should not do so in a way that would harm our declaration of the gospel. Let’s keep first things, first.
After all, it’s just an election.