November 9, 2016


Well, Tuesday came and went. I guess that, to be fair, it extended well into Wednesday. Whether you were surprised or not, whether you breathed a sigh of relief or despair, time will march on. Perhaps the biggest revelation this election cycle wasn’t the particular candidate who won, but the seemingly ever-deepening divides in our nation. Your social media feed will push to simplify things, but it’s pretty complex and pervasive.

Urban vs. Rural.

White vs. Minorities

Men vs. Women

Class vs. Class

Maybe the biggest takeaway is that partisan politics can’t unite us. The idea of reaching across the aisle feels distant and antiquated, a West Wing ideal as we pine for a president like Jed Bartlet. But no. This is real life. As James Hunter says, “politics is always a crude simplification of public life, and the common good is always more than its political expression.”[1] That crude simplification will make it unthinkable that anyone could land in a different place than we do, because our political engagement will be destined to reflect the advance of “us” while proclaiming the evils of “them”.

Some of you celebrated this morning. Some of you are genuinely scared. Some of you are cautiously hopeful. Some of you are angry. One thing this election hasn’t brought a lot of is apathy. That makes it intensely difficult to love those who are on the “other” side.

 

To my non-Christian friends –

I am devastated at the hijacking of the word “evangelical” that came to its fullness in this election. Theologically, that term has simply meant a kind of Christianity that is centered on the good news of Jesus Christ. In American history, that term was initially a movement that rejected fundamentalist separationism and brought Christian faith into life – with a high regard for the Bible, an outward social activism, the centrality of Jesus’ saving work for us, and a desire to see others join God’s family. The term no longer indicates those things. “Evangelical” has come to have a very narrow connotation both politically and racially, essentially meaning “white conservative” and probably a male. Because of that, I will identify as a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian, but I cannot outwardly embrace the word “evangelical” because of the divisiveness is has come to embody.

I want you to know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is better news than politics can offer us. Jesus life was for all people. His death offers atonement for all people. His resurrection gives hope for all people. I want you to know that the church is designed by God to be a place that is filled with a great diversity of people. It is in greater diversity that the tapestry of God’s work is made more beautiful. That includes politics, socio-economics, race, gender, and any other wall that divides us (Galatians 3:26-28). The ground is level at the foot of the cross, and we can come together in unity and love in Jesus. I hope you are able to experience that side of Christianity. I hope you have Christians in your life who show that kind of love and hope and peace. It’s the real thing.

 

To my Christian friends –

Remember that there is only one King. Jesus is not up for election, nor is His reign impacted by a vote. Rest in His sovereignty. Be sure to take a posture of listening and learning from those who are hurt and broken. Defending a political platform at the expense of gospel witness is a terrible, awful loss (Psalm 146:3-4). Please don’t begin to pretend that any candidate is the only Christian option. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of finding justification in political victory, moralizing against people’s fears in defeat, or falling into total despair. But do take some time to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-6), for President-elect Trump, for those who won races in the House and Senate. And remember that God appoints the rulers of this world (Romans 13:1-7), and He is sovereign.

As Pastor John Piper said, “The greatness of Christian exiles is not success but service. Whether we win or lose, we witness to the way of truth and beauty and joy. We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ.” It’s a good reminder, whatever side you have found yourself on.

 

For those in Redemption Hill –

We knew that whoever won this election would bring an administration change. That means that many of your lives were impacted by the election last night. For many of you it was the races in the House and Senate that had the greatest impact. I prayed for you throughout the past week and throughout last night. You are uniquely positioned to do good work that will impact our nation. What a great opportunity! What a great responsibility.

It also means that our city is about to have an influx of people. Let’s remember that God has determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26-27). That means that we are uniquely placed here to bear the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to love people across the divides and brokenness in this world. Let’s keep our focus together.

 

 

 

[1] James Davison Hunter, To Change the World, 185.