Tonight is election night. Months of ever-increasing debates, campaign speeches, and media ads have finally led us to this day of reckoning in American democracy. When it is over, there will be a substantial part of America who will stand and rejoice while an equally substantial part will shake their heads in sorrow. Hope will either be renewed or dashed against the rocks. It is to this reality that I would humbly offer a few words to fellow Christians because Jesus’ lordship over the civic sphere of your life won’t cease after tonight. It will continue tomorrow. And because it does, how you act toward others on the days following Tuesday should highlight not only who you are but whose you are. In that light, let me encourage a path to walk in the following days as the final ballots are counted and the votes confirmed:
If you like the results, have compassion not comeuppance on those who didn’t.
If your candidate wins, don’t gloat over your friends who didn’t vote the way you did. Remember what Jesus told us about loving our neighbor? We are to do unto them as we would do unto ourselves (cf., Mk. 12:31), treating them as we would want to be treated. Ask yourself, “If my day was upended by the results of the election and I’m left thinking that America has made the wrong choice, how would I like others who saw it differently to treat me?” Surely you would desire to receive compassion from a friend over having them rub it in as your comeuppance. Okay? Sure. Makes sense? Yup. Then, as Jesus said, go and do likewise. Be the one who chooses loving over winning when it comes to your relationships, and take the initiative in doing so. And yes, this includes social media. I promise you that your behavior will stand out from the world’s for the better.
If you don’t like the results, have disappointment but not despair.
If your candidate loses, refrain from lashing out and crying injustice against your neighbors who voted differently. They aren’t less American for choosing other candidates. On the contrary, American democracy is all about times like these. And yet, it’s totally understandable to be upset when the results pan out differently than you wanted. Still, it would be wise to check your heart so your feelings don’t deteriorate from being down to being in despair. If you do, it may be a sign of idolatry in your heart because you’ve tied your ultimate hopes and security to politics, when those important things should only be tethered to the Lord. Psalm 24:1 reminds us that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” Listen, God won’t be any less sovereign on Wednesday morning than he is Tuesday night. Act like it. Chin up.
Remember either way, this nation isn’t your ultimate kingdom.
Win or lose. Up or down. Happy or sad. As a follower of Jesus, you would do well to remind yourself that as much as you may love the United States of America, you have a greater citizenship in a greater country. We are Christians first, everything else comes after that, including our earthly nationalities. May that reality temper your triumph or diminish your disappointment after tonight, knowing that you have brothers and sisters in Christ on the other side of the political aisle who will walk alongside you in the new heavens and earth enjoying together the rule and reign of your True King. It is to Jesus and his kingdom where our ultimate allegiance lies, and any hopes and joys or frustrations and fears we feel in the age after Christ’s first coming should be repositioned in light of his second. If we are overwhelmed in heart, then it would do us well to take that heart and point it to the horizon where it can be warmed by the oncoming rays of the approaching Last Day (cf., Jn. 6:40) when the whole universe will be put to rights. As Rev. 22:4-5 reminds us: “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Christian, this is the kingdom that should ultimately have our heart…and our hopes…now and forevermore!
Finish then thy new creation
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in thee,
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise!
– Charles Wesley, ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’