How Do We Respond?
As I write, it is early morning, Wednesday, November 9. The American people have elected Donald J. Trump to be the 45th President of the United States of America.
We have just experienced an election that has astounded and confounded. There were surprises and scandals, investigations and intrigue, leaks and lambasting. It was a campaign that wore us down, but perhaps not as unique as we might think. Presidential elections have been difficult since 1796 when John Adams succeeded George Washington, and especially since 1800 when Thomas Jefferson succeeded John Adams. In that election season, Jefferson was denounced as a spendthrift and libertine, a coward and a godless man who mocked the Christian faith. Adams was denounced as a monarchist, old, addled, toothless, and possibly insane.* We long for a different tone and texture to our elections, but in modern presidential politics we reap the bitter fruit of seeds sown long ago.
With that perspective in mind, how do we who are followers of Jesus respond to this election (or, for that matter, to any election)? I suggest four ways.
1) Have empathy and humility. Remember that in the divided electorate of 2016 the popular vote was split almost evenly. Those who cheer the results will be matched almost equally by those who are disappointed. Remember the admonition of the Apostle Paul given in Romans 12:15-16: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty.”
2) Model a more excellent way. Whether you are celebrating or lamenting, elevate your own discourse. How we speak reveals much about our character. As Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
3) Pray for our elected leaders, especially the president. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for…all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Note that this call to prayer does not say “only if your candidate won.” Remember that all presidents, whether we voted for them or not, carry extraordinary burdens. Pray for their safety and health. Pray that God would give wisdom and compassion. Pray that they would be surrounded by competent advisers. Pray for their marriage and for their family.
4) Fear not. The Christmas angel declares what we can never tire of hearing: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Our ultimate hope is not in presidents, whether we voted for them or not. Our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the compelling words of the Nicene Creed, it is he “who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.” Now that is something to celebrate! Amen. Hallelujah!
David Lenz, Lead Pastor
*I highly recommend David McCullough’s biography John Adams (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001). See pages 535-550.