Originally Published November 2016
Just over a week ago, millions of Americans cast their vote for the next President of the United States. The result was both shocking and divisive. On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States – to the joyous shouts of some, and the vehement disdain of others. After all, the path to this point was not an easy one for our nation. The ugly banter that often follows political discourse spiraled into a firestorm of insult and judgement. With social media and other news outlets fueling the fire, some experts suggest that this election cycle was the most tumultuous the country has ever seen. Yet after January 20, Americans, either happily or angrily, will go back to their familiar routine.
Political commentators are already beginning to speculate as to what the end results of this election will be. Will the policies expressed so passionately throughout the campaign actually come to fruition? Will promises, either good or bad, be upheld? What will be the ultimate result? What are we to think of this election?
However, as Christians, what if the truly ultimate result is not what happens in our country, but what happens in us? We must view events and opportunities in the world not as things in and of themselves, but as part of a larger narrative. God is growing us and teaching us through the happenings of our lives – and our country. As unique individuals, the lessons that we acquire will not always be the same, nor should they be. In fact, it is part of God’s design that we learn from each other, broadening our perspective and appreciation for His character and glory.
With this in mind, here are 3 lessons that God has taught me through this election:
- Christians are Diverse – This election has been unusually divisive for Christians. With the beginning of the #NeverTrump movement, many outspokenly questioned GOP candidate Donald Trump’s personal character and qualifications for the presidency. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s investigation by the FBI and reports of corruption also left her facing massive criticism from evangelical Christian voters. Still other Christians questioned how you could not vote for one of the two major party candidates. The arguments by people who held each of these views were often logical and well-thought-out. Most genuinely sought not only the betterment of the country, but also the glory of God. With so many nuances, complicated issues, and personal experiences involved in politics, it would be wrong to question one’s faith due to their vote. Although Christians may disagree, even vehemently, we also must recognize our diversity.
- Morality is Meaningful – Many assert that this year’s Republican and Democrat nominees for president are the most morally flawed in recent history. Donald Trump has been labeled a racist, sexist, adulterer, and sexual predator. Hillary Clinton has been called a liar, cheater, and killer. Almost all Americans have pointed out the immorality in one or both of the candidates. Whether these accusations are true or not, they remind us that morality has not vanished. We are concerned about morality because we are moral beings created in the image of a God who holds the moral standard. As a result, we cannot help but be abhorred by some of these things and rightfully call for justice. It is not that we simply want these flaws removed from our presidential candidates – we want them removed from our society. Isn’t that where the rhetoric ultimately points? Yet upon reflection, we also must realize that these sins we so desire to rid our society of also exist in us. We may not be “adulterers” or “killers,” but we have certainly lusted and been angry. It is the root – the heart – in all of us that must be dealt with…and the only remedy is Jesus.
- Politics are Important, Not Preeminent – There are often two extreme tendencies among Christians in regard to politics, both of which were intensified during this election. The first extreme is to become so wrapped up in political issues and apocalyptic narratives that politics are given ultimate importance. This is often expressed through constant arguments and social media posts that do virtually nothing to change the opinion of others. Consequently, observers perceive that these people have little to no hope beyond a political victory. The second extreme is to avoid politics altogether and brush it away as meaningless nonsense. However, this position also is faulty because policy has a direct effect on the lives of individuals. As Christians, we are called to do God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). As Americans, we have the ability to shape policy in a way that we believe glorifies God and is beneficial to our fellow citizens. God is sovereign – He can work both in politics and in spite of politics. This difficult election reveals that we must do a better job of balancing and communicating these two very important truths.
As we continue to engage with each other and wrestle through this election, it is my prayer that we seek God in the midst of it. It is easy to assert His sovereignty over the election – but He is also much more personal than that. God wants to work something in our lives through it. He wants to teach us and grow us. What lessons have you learned?