November 07, 2012

Post-Election Perspective

Written By Cary Schmidt

Psalm 31:24, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”

Needless to say, last night didn’t go the way most Christians were hoping it would go. In fact, many Christians are flat discouraged or depressed about the situation. After months of campaign rhetoric and apocalyptic language, it would be easy to turn this election into “the end of the world as we know it.” And our kids are even more susceptible to this. They’ve heard adults and Fox News tossing around lingo that is nothing less than catastrophic, and their hearts contexualize it all with fear and despair. It can leave one feeling hopeless, if our hope was (in any measure) in men.

But honestly, it’s not so bad. Really. I know that sounds like denial. But really it’s all about perspective. So, explore with me for a few moments and ask the Lord to lift your eyes back up to Him and His truth. Maybe by the end of this you’ll agree with me—with the worst of presidents in American history, and the worst of times economically—we have still been immeasurably blessed.

Here are some biblical, post-election perspectives we all need to keep in mind…

First, Jesus Is Our True Hope—Psalm 31:24, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”

Our hope as Christians is not in politics, government, democracy, or even freedom. Our hope in Jesus Christ. Our hope is in God’s word and God’s promises—all of which rise above and supremely endure regardless of who is president. I’ve lived long enough to see Republican presidents let us down and Democratic presidents let us down. I’ve lived through enough election cycles to know that each one was “the end of America” as we know it. And lived long enough afterward to see that God is sovereign in these matters, and He cares for His children, no matter who is in office.

Believe me—if your guy had won, he still would have let you down. He wasn’t the savior that his campaign advisors wanted you to believe he was. God wasn’t wringing His hands with anxiety over electoral votes last night.

No—your Hope is built upon a strong foundation! Your Hope is permanently in office. Your Hope is never “out of touch” with His people. Your Hope is never up for re-election. He wins every debate. He always has your best interest in mind. He controls both houses. He doesn’t need spin doctors to make Him look good. He keeps every one of His campaign promises. And He doesn’t need a bus, an airplane, or a limo to get to where you are. He’s always with you in every moment of every day!

(See also: Lamentations 3:21–26, Hebrews 6:19, 1 Peter 1:3, 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 1:21)

Second, God Is Sovereign Over Earthly Authorities—Psalm 75:6–7, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”

Over and over in scripture, God tells us that all power belongs to Him and He ordains earthly power for His purposes. He never promises us that we always get to choose our own leaders. He never expects us to look to earthly powers for hope. He is working on His own eternal time table for His own eternal purposes—and always has your absolute best interest in mind. He is always GOOD, and always bringing about the highest possible GOOD for you, in you, and through you. This is what He does and what He promises.

What does this mean? It means His purposes of good cannot be thwarted even one degree by some little election. It means that even the election with all of its outcomes are held within His hand, unfolding according to His purposes, and even HELPING His ultimate will to unfold! Wow—how cool is that! God can use the evil agenda of wicked men to ultimately bring about His best. Now that’s some kind of power! Aren’t you glad you belong to HIM?!

Think of the great Bible character Daniel. Do you remember the horrible political climate Daniel faced? Daniel never got to cast a vote for president. He was forced to work on staff for a pagan king. By American standards, Daniel’s situation was dire. Imagine it playing out on Fox News. Can’t you see Brit Hume sitting there, glasses on the bridge of his nose, with that rich broadcaster’s voice: “We’re getting reports of a disturbance in Israel. It seems that King Nebuchadnezzar has sent an army into downtown Jerusalem, scooped up all the Ivy League students, and put ’em in a transport plane back to Babylon—along with their religious artifacts.”

No votes. Just “Come with us.” No debates. Just “Because we said so… or you can die if you would rather.” No red, white, and blue motion graphics. Just motion swords and chariots. No electoral college. Just a new college in the king’s house, along with a new language, new name, and new future. No battleground states. Just battleground. No exit polls. Just mass exodus.

In the following passage, God tells His people what’s going to happen. He prepares them. And then in the next passage, He promises to be with them and care for those that are faithful to Him. Read it in light of your view of national politics:

The Bad News—Jeremiah 27:4–8, “And command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say unto your masters; I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.”

The Good News—Jeremiah 24:5–7, “Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”

More Good News—Jeremiah 29:10–13, “For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

God used the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar for His purposes. And yes, God uses Democratic presidents for His purposes. Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

Third, God Commands Us to Pray for and Be Subject to Earthly Authorities—Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

God’s will for us it not to despair, but to pray for, honor, and respect earthly authorities. Think about the higher powers, the kings, the authorities about which the New Testament writers were writing! Put the worst of American presidential candidates in an election lineup against the pagan, persecuting kings and authorities of the first century, and put a ballot in the hands of first-century Christians, and YES, the WORST of our options would have had their vote for office. In their day, voting would have revolved around “Who is least likely to set us on fire or feed us to lions?” How shocked they would be at the things we make a big deal out of.

Can’t you imagine a conversation with a first-century martyr—“So, you actually get to choose your leader?” (That would make them speechless right there.) “And, how do your leaders in the 21st-century persecute you? Do they flog with whips? Do they still crucify, or do they lean toward beheading? How many times have you been imprisoned for your faith?”

Point is—the worst of our authorities and leaders are pretty mild compared to the Roman government. God sure has blessed us!

(See also: 1 Peter 2:13–17, 1 Timothy 2:1–2, Titus 3:1)

Fourth, God Has Given 21st-Century American Christianity an Unprecedented Political Climate—Acts 11:19, “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”

All over the world tonight, Christians are still being scattered and persecuted. History would recount that Christianity has never had as favorable a political climate as it has in America right now. The history of Christianity is bloody. It’s a trail of martyrdom, persecution, and imprisonment. Think about the things listed in Hebrews 11:36–40 that early Christians bravely faced by those in political power, and compare that to the freedoms and liberties that we have in America for the gospel of Christ:

Hebrews 11:36–40, “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

Fifth, Christianity Can Thrive Regardless of Political Climate—Earlier in the same passage, the writer of Hebrews recounts how that people of faith made a massive difference regardless of kings, powers, authorities, and kingdoms. They brought about change—radical, world-shaping change—not by voting or nationalism. They brought about eternal, life-altering, culture-shaping, kingdom-rattling change—not by might nor by power, but BY HIS SPIRIT. They did it through FAITH!

Hebrews 11:32–35, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:”

These people of God didn’t have freedom or democracy or a representative republic. They didn’t have campaigns and voting booths and conservative talk radio. They had faith. They had the power of God. They had God’s hand of favor and blessing. And that’s all they needed.

Finally—Even the Worst-Case Scenario Is Not to Be Feared by Christians—Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”

The “end of the world as we know it” is at worst, the beginning of a Heavenly eternity far better than we could ever imagine! As the song states, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin” through!”

I hope you weren’t watching last night’s election results with your hope fastened to the outcome. If so, you’ve had a pretty hard day, most likely. Our identity is bigger than the word “American.” Our identity in Christ is unchanging, eternal—of another kingdom, another world, and another King. Our identity is unshakeable, and our destiny eternal in the Heavens. I hope you were watching last night’s election like you would watch a football game from the grandstands, as a spectator. You hope your team wins, but if they lose, you’re still heading home and tomorrow’s another day.

Our hope is not to be anchored in the choices of man, the course of a nation, or the winds of political climate. Our hope is not to be anchored in conservatism, economic prosperity, or a democratic republic. Our hope is not in governments of men or party platform. Our hope in Jesus Christ. Our identity is in Him. We are Christians.

Hebrews 6:19, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;”

The American dream may be diminishing, but the gospel dream is ALIVE and well! God never promised the American dream—He promised a Heavenly dream! And that dream is ROCK SOLID!

Place your hope in Him! And enjoy the view from the grandstands until He calls us HOME FOREVER!