“Can you believe this election? It’s crazy! I’m so glad that God is in control.”
“Absolutely. I am a huge fan of the sovereignty of God.”
“You’re not one of those Calvinists, are you?”
“Yeaaaahh… I try not to throw it around. I know not everyone here is.”
“It’s okay, I don’t mind. I understand why you are.”
Exhibit A: the first conversation I had about the election.
“I wish a third party vote was reasonable. I really do. But it’s simply not going to change anything. You have to choose between the two candidates we have. You can’t waste your vote.”
“I’m not wasting my vote. I’m going to place my vote with a candidate that I can truly get behind. If everyone on both sides who was truly disgruntled about having ‘only two choices’ took a chance on the third party vote, it would shake the very core of this election.”
“I’m sorry, but that’s not going to happen. It’s a fantasy to believe that a third party vote will change anything.”
Exhibit B: differing views on the third party vote.
“Oh that hits home. Very comforting to me.”
“What did he say?”
“Obey your leaders but obeying doesn’t mean you support or condone them. Ultimately the president is my boss. If they give an order, everyone that applies has to follow. Even if they disagree.”
“Right. We have to respect the leaders placed above us. God has placed them there, and we must obey them.”
“And there are cases where it’s better to disobey. We have to be discerning. At the end of the day God is in control.”
Exhibit C: discussion of a recent sermon at a local church
Here I am. Composing that promised blog post about the election. As soon as I mentioned it to a person who knows me personally (and knows I run this account) he chuckled. “Ah, so now you’re going to finally tell the world why [you’re voting the way you’re voting].” I balked, realizing the expectation I had suddenly placed upon myself. “Who says I’m going to say who people should vote for?”
If that is what you were expecting – a piece on why the person I’ll vote for on November 8th, 2016 is the best candidate – I apologize, but you’re about to be disappointed. I hope you won’t stay disappointed though. I’m not going to tell you who I think you should vote for. Not because I don’t have an opinion, but because I do. We all have opinions. Every time we log onto Facebook or Twitter we see opinions. Long essays, short quips, memes, outrages, and pleas appear before our eyes the minute we open social media. I don’t know about you, but lately it’s all made me quite weary. I open Facebook searching for life updates and anecdotes about the children of my mom friends (I live vicariously through their stories until I can share stories of my own). But lately the life updates and anecdotes and pictures of sunsets and food have all been replaced by political outburst. Posts insisting that if I, the reader of each post, do not vote for a particular candidate, I should be ashamed or maybe I should delete them from my friend list or unfollow them or maybe I need to search my heart and make sure I truly love God or that I truly care about marriage/the unborn/the fate of our country/etc.
Any time I log onto social media, it’s like stepping into a room where everyone is bickering, everyone has something to say, but no one wants to listen. Everyone is disgusted with everyone else, everyone is sick and tired of all of this, and no one wants to concede. We’re scared and we don’t want to admit it. And every single one of us – I include myself in this statement – has been forgetting something that changes everything about how we view this election.
That something is the sovereignty of God.
Maybe in our underlying fear and concern for what is about to happen to this country we’ve missed the point entirely. Maybe the point isn’t whether Trump or Clinton or a third party candidate will win. Maybe our focus shouldn’t be on all the chaos and corruption surrounding us and the year 2016.
What if we – the church – refocused our concerns? What if we stopped fighting and debating over this candidate and that and who is wasting who’s vote and shifted our gaze? What if we stopped asking people who they’re voting for and started asking them how we can pray for them? What if instead of thinking that we have any semblance of control over November 8th’s results we surrendered ourselves to fully trusting the sovereign plan of God?
I’ve been there. I’m still there all too often. I watch the news and read the articles and want to scream and cry at the injustice of it all. At the injustice of living in a world where people intending to lead our country get away with lies, theft, inhumanity, murder, mistreatment of fellow humans, treason, and immorality. We watch the news and cry out, “Where is the justice? Why does this go unpunished?? Doesn’t God know what’s going on down here?!”
Yes He does.
Our God is at this very moment present in this world. He knows exactly what is going on with this election and with the United States of America.
Not only does He know, He cares. He cares about what is going on.
Not only is He present, not only does He know, not only does He care.
He has planned this all from before the foundation of the world.
Our sovereign, all-knowing, all-caring, ever-present God has meticulously planned every detail of every event this world has known, is knowing, and will ever know. He knew the end of this election long before the beginning. When the Founding Fathers drew up our Constitution, God knew exactly which day that this “more perfect union” would become much, much less than perfect because it was all part of His sovereign plan.
This. This is freedom. In that our God set into motion at the beginning of the world a plan that will never ever be foiled nor will it ever go wrong. The whims and wills of man will do nothing to upset what God has foreordained before any of us were even born.
The implications of this truth are liberating. As we prayerfully make our choices tomorrow, we don’t have to be afraid of what will come of our choices. We are free to vote as we choose, knowing that God already has the results in hand. In fact, He determined them. We can trust that our choices are part of God’s sovereign plan and nothing we do will put us outside that plan.
On Wednesday morning, we’re going to wake up to a new America. From a human standpoint, this week is a turning point. Everything is about to change in ways we could have never predicted.
And that’s okay. Because our God has each and every one of us in His sovereign, loving hands.
This world is not it. It is not conclusion. It is not the end. One day, ultimate justice will be served. The bullies, the murderers, the liars, the deceivers, and the criminals of this world will have their punishment. They may prosper in this weary world, but it will not last forever.
And better yet, those of us who are in Christ will get the opposite of what we deserve. How quickly we forget that key phrase in 1 Corinthians 6 that changes everything: “Such were some of you.” We were once no better than they are. Without the blood of Christ, we are no better than they are. The only reason we can stand up and be considered righteous is because Jesus took His righteousness and swapped it out for ours. He took our dirty, nasty, sin-stained robes and exchanged them for his perfect, spotless garment. If we know and believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died so that we could live we have received a gift that is the very opposite of fair and it is beautiful.
Remember that as you approach the polls tomorrow. Remember that as you ask your friends and neighbors and Christian brothers and sisters who they voted for. Remember that as you watch the results and as you wake up Wednesday morning to a man or woman who will lead our country for the next four to eight years. And as you remember the gift that has been lavishly bestowed on you – for it is one you do not deserve and did nothing to earn – let that grace and mercy flow out of you. Use this election, the vote, the results, as a Gospel opportunity. Instead of turning on a brother or sister in Christ because of who they voted for stand with them. Encourage them. Love them.
Instead of scoffing at those who do not know our Savior and blaming them for the demise of our country (no matter how subtly you do it), take the opportunity to share Jesus with them. Take the time to show them that our hope is not in politics but rather in the sovereign God of the universe, who knew this day would come long before the world began.
And instead of spending the next four to eight years finding ways to tear down or mock our president, pray for him or her. Remember our sovereign God. Ask Him to change your heart. Ask Him to help you truly love our president and sincerely pray for his or her salvation.
And remember Daniel 2:21-23:
“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells with Him.
To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,
For You have given me wisdom and power;
Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s matter.”