Election 2016- Faith, Hope, Love
Last week we began a series that cover the 2016 election. We are considering how the three characteristics of faith, hope and love should look like for those who are involved in voting. Today we will be discussing what Christian hope should look like in this presidential season.
As was mentioned last week, believers should resist the temptation to respond to things in the same way that others in our society might. We are not called to despair when the election doesn’t go our way, nor are we to be overly triumphalistic if the candidate we support wins. When we do this, it shows that we believe a certain story. The story goes something like, if candidate x wins, then we will enter a season of peace and prosperity, or if candidate y wins, then we will enter a time of decline and hardship. While this may be true in a temporary sense, it should not be understood in an ultimate sense. When Christians do this, it is an indication that the believer is actually following a story the world gives us.
I’m not saying is that elections don’t matter. Elections do matter and effect real people. And Christians are called to seek for the good of their neighbor. But what we are called to watch out for is to put elections on par with the ultimate story. Christians are called to believe a story line that differs from the story the world tells. Often the story the world tells does not take God into consideration. Or even if it does, it is a token appreciation that is meant to galvanize a certain group of people to one candidate. But for the Christian, God is front and center. Psalm 146:3-4 reminds us, Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Scripture reminds us to limit our hope in people. We are called to put our ultimate hope in God.
This election is a different experience than previous elections. Some elections galvanize people with promises of hope. Others elections run by pointing out the things that is wrong with the world. Each election cycle tells a story. Each person running for a position tells a story they think will galvanize people to vote for them. This year, it feels as if the election has left many saddened and shaking their heads. If our hope was based off of who won an election, it would certainly feel as if we were on a boat in the middle of the ocean during a storm, tossed to and fro without an anchor, and without hope.
But we do have hope. Our hope is that God is working all things for our good and His glory. We have confidence that God is working good in our lives because that is what Christ came to do. Christ came to reconcile us to the Father. Our fate is not at the mercy of electoral colleges or popular opinion. Our hope and our confidence is in the One who conquered sin and death.
In light of our true hope, here are a few suggestions how we can respond:
First we should vote confidently that God is in control and that God is good. Christ loved you that he came to pay for your sin with his death on the cross. If you have placed your faith in Christ, God promises that he will not abandon you. Whether you vote democrat or republican, trust that God is faithful to you.
Second, we should vote with realistic expectations, but avoid cynicism. Cynicism is the attitude of skepticism mixed with hopelessness. A cynical person never stops questioning the motives of people and questions the purpose of doing anything. It is actually a characteristic of many here in the Northeast. Christians are never called to cynicism. We are called to be real, but to be hopeful that one day Christ will bring justice and peace to this world.
Third, we are to pray for our leaders and the country no matter who is elected. Paul instructs Timothy in how the people are to relate with their government officials. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Our hope as Christians is not dependent on who occupies the Oval office. Christians have lived under tyrants, dictators, and even those who have persecuted them. Our hope asChristians goes beyond any despair we can face in this lifetime. This election season let us not succumb to the same fear or cynicism of the world. This is not just idle talk or idealistic talk. We do not succumb to fear because we have a Savior who is the ruler of the universe. He has defeated sin and death and has removed the sting of sin from our lives.