Election day. The past few months have been leading up to this moment, so much so that our Facebook newsfeeds carry all the same headlines as the major news outlets. So much passion, so many hopes, so much skepticism, so much disagreement, so much slander—all coming to a head today.
And depending on when you’re reading this, all of the critical decisions of Election Day 2012 will either be done soon or are already settled. So how should a Christian respond to a finished election? Here are a few thoughts.
Be ready for disappointment. Keep in mind that I’m writing this before the election, so I don’t have a clue about who will be the next president or which ballot issues won the day. But I’m insightful enough to know that all of us are going to be disappointed in some way. Maybe your guy will lose the presidential election. Maybe the ballot initiatives you feel strongest about will go the wrong way.
But even if the election goes your way in every respect, you should still be ready for disappointment. Your choice for president will let you down. Our best ballot measures will always stop short of solving society’s problems.
Elections offer us a unique opportunity to share in the direction and development of our nation. In many ways, we are never more powerful than we are on an election day. When else does the government ask you what they ought to do? Voting gives us an opportunity to give input into matters that are typically far above our pay grade.
But then again, we are also relatively powerless on an election day. Think about it. How much will your solitary vote accomplish? Sure, the government asks for your input on this one day, but are they really hearing you over all of the shouting voices?
So we follow our conscience on Election Day and say what needs to be said. But once that is over, we have to decide how to respond.
Will Jesus remain on his throne? Count on it. Is he still sovereign over human governments and social issues? Of course. Are we still called to pray for our leaders, whether we like them or not? 1 Timothy 2:1–4 says that we must.
So on November 7, no matter what has been decided or which candidate has to figure out if he can actually keep any of the promises he made to the American people, we continue to submit to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1–7), we continue to pray for our leaders (1 Tim. 2:1–4), and we continue to labor to see God’s will done on earth (Matt. 6:10).
Voting is one way to work towards seeing God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven, but in reality, we are far more effective in this regard in our everyday lives than we are in a voting booth. Sure, our vote goes toward something much broader than we typically take on, but in our smaller spheres of influence we have much more power to actually make changes.
I am one impersonal voice among millions when I vote on the abortion issue, but I carry a lot of relational weight when I comfort a young woman who is wrestling with how to handle her unplanned pregnancy. I can fill in a ballot in an attempt to influence healthcare, but I am far more powerful on a smaller scale when I join with my church in caring for the needy in our community.
The point is, regardless of what happens with this election, we must still feel a sense of calling and confidence in working to see God’s will done in the smaller spheres of influence which he has entrusted to us. Let the election be what it will be, we still have work to do for the kingdom.