The results are in, and nobody is happy. This is the most likely scenario that we face as a nation after the election, and this may be a description of you. After pushing hard for a candidate on social media and persuading your friends about your favorite propositions, you still are met with an unfavorable outcome, and it is depressing. Your frustrations with our country are at an all time high, and you are having trouble accepting the outcome.
I understand. It’s easy to focus on the frustrations, but it’s harder to focus on a response that pleases God. Yet as hard as it may be, it is still possible by the grace of God. Whether the election is in your favor or not, there is a godly way to respond to the results, and I pray that the church will adopt such a posture.
Here are four principles for us to take to heart:
1. Beware of Idolatry. In this season, if you have elevated a party, or a person, to the level of idolatry, it is time to repent. This is a relevant principle in any season. It is tempting to treat any candidate as a pseudo-savior or man-made messiah when that person offers countless promises both to the public and to your tribe. Political idolatry is a sin that believers must aggressively kill, and it will not go away anytime soon. Does your reaction to election represent an idolatry of a candidate or a political party? Are you trusting in a person more than the person of Christ? Are you preaching a party platform or preaching the Gospel? Ask yourself the hard questions, ask other trusted believers to critique you, and evaluate your own heart.
2. Interact with Respect. Both Christians and Non-Christians must be respected. All of humanity is created in the image of God and should be treated that way (James 3:9). Use grace and charity to disagree with those who fall on all sides of the election results. Even fellow Christians may differ with your views on the next president. As a general rule, work to continue the conversations with love, respect, and Gospel unity.
Speak truth, not slander. Slander and malicious speech should never characterize the Christian (Eph 4:25-32), even if they are upset with the results of an election. Be mindful of the words you use and what it says about your heart. It is possible to show honor to whom honor is due (Rom 13:7; 1 Pet 2:17) while simultaneously voicing our concerns in an attitude of humility and hope in the Lord (1 Pet 2:13-14).
3. Preserve the Unity of the Church. Church unity needs extra attention after an election. Help preserve the unity by focusing on our commonality and unity in Christ (Eph 4:1-6). Though we can agree in principle about a certain subject/goal, many times our disagreement is how to accomplish that goal. And that is okay. We can continue these hard conversations and work toward solutions while protecting the peace that exists in the local church. But it will take effort and grace. Our Christian response to the election will be a testimony to the unbelieving world and to the Christians around us. Such responses will also reveal our hearts. Remember, some biblically informed consciences will choose vote a different way than others, but our love and unity in Christ must never change in the midst of these differences.
4. Trust in the Sovereignty of God. If results are unfavorable to us, the great temptation is to grumble and complain. This should not characterize the Christian. Even the most sinful dictators in history have been ordained by Holy God to accomplish His purposes (Pharaoh, Rom 9:17; Babylon, Hab 1:12), God is in the business of bringing out good from evil. Recognize this truth: our governmental leaders are being used for God’s glory even in their wrongdoing and God still remains righteous. God has a purpose for these results, and He is not taken by surprise. It is all part of His sovereign providence. So to grumble against sovereign providence is to resist God and His plan for humanity (Romans 13:1). As life carries on, continue to trust in the Lord and know that He is working to glorify Himself through the results of the election. Work to labor for the Gospel in these politically divisive times, but rest in Christ as God’s work is on full display in the land.