What is the appropriate Christian response to the disappointing outcome of the presidential election? I spent a lot of time yesterday wondering just that. I felt much more upset than I thought I would, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. I found some political reasons for the loss, which helped in thinking that we can figure out a way next time around (some particularly interesting ideas are mentioned here).
I also observed the Christian response: I saw a lot of Facebook statuses and articles proclaiming that Jesus is still King. That is true. Some said God is sovereign over the election results; that nothing comes to us that has not passed through His loving hands. This is also true.
But these truths by themselves still left me feeling discouraged, until I read this (warning: there are some very controversial topics in this article which are outside the defense and scope of this blog post). I realized that my discouragement was stemming from the fact that these declarations of God’s sovereignty, though right and true and partially encouraging, do not give us a full picture of what is going on in our country, even from a spiritual perspective.
The reason these answers weren’t enough is that they seemed to be glossing over a glaring issue: God has always been sovereign over his creation. What god would be worth worshipping if he were powerful enough to create a universe yet wielded none of that influence to help his creatures? God was sovereign over the reigns of Nero, Hitler, Stalin, etc. These were unspeakably horrific times. So Jesus being the King of Kings doesn’t mean that sunny, breezy days are ahead. God allowed many evil dictators to take over the Israelites, even to exile them. Why did He allow this? He wanted the hearts of his people to turn back to him. He knew that true joy and purpose would never be found in the idols His people were worshipping. When repentance came, God stayed His hand.
So the solution to our political nightmare (some will think I’m being dramatic, but the likelihood of two Supreme Court Justices being appointed by Obama is fairly nightmarish) is not in political re-configuring or in searching high and low for a really, really charismatic candidate who can withstand the media tsunami. Even if Romney had prevailed, he would not have been our savior. The solution is in repentance. And repentance happens in the hearts of individuals. One at a time.
And therein lies the problem: I would rather read every article I can find on political strategy than tell fellow sinners that they have a problem they will die from if they don’t tell God they’re sorry and plead for the blood of Jesus to atone for them. Some people are gifted in talking like this. I am not one of them. I don’t like making people uncomfortable. More honestly, I don’t like people to think of me as someone who makes them uncomfortable.
I am eager to defend the unborn (50 million abortions and counting) in a public forum or to write about it. But I don’t want to speak to people face-to-face. I don’t want to tell them that God thinks abortion is the unjust taking of innocent life and that He has some strong opinions about that. What if they stop listening before I can tell them about God’s full grace and forgiveness for those who’ve committed the murder of abortion? What if they think I’m being hyperbolic when I say that I have committed murder a thousand times in my heart and that this equally qualifies me for death, except for the love and sacrifice of Jesus? What if they don’t care what God thinks about abortion? I clearly have issues with discussing repentance-y issues with others.
But even in my desire to be about repentance, I have it backwards. I should’ve started with my own repentance: I’m prideful and easily irritated. In practice, I care more what people think of me than I do about obeying God or about others’ salvation. I give myself the benefit of the doubt every time, but to others, I give full-on doubt. I could go on and on. After examining my heart, I also feel the need to repent on behalf of our nation, standing in the gap for those who “know not what they do.” Forgive us, Lord. Forgive me, Lord.
Though I’m not about to start preaching from a literal soapbox or to start cornering my friends with copies of the Ten Commandments, I am going to take repentance more seriously, my own and others’. I’m praying that over the next four years God will work in the hearts of our nation’s people and that the next election will result in the blessing of a godly president. I pray that at that time, our once-divided nation will be happy to be under the good and sovereign hand of God.