What an interesting day . . . my birthday and election day. This is not the first time that these two days collide. Forty-four years ago, my father was sitting in the waiting room of the hospital watching the election returns for President Nixon, while my mother was pushing me out down the hall. Remembering what became of that season of American history, I am filled with sadness——It is a sadness that I have felt through this election season as well.
I have watched brother turn against brother in this season, Christians saying all manner of evil against one another, using the extreme soundbites of “heretic” and “apostate” to identify who is “in” and who is “out” due to their political leanings. The claim in both camps being that “God is on our side.”
Today I am wondering some things . . . how will Christians explain if their candidate wins . . . Was God obviously on their side? What if their candidate loses? Is God sovereign or not? Did he elect the “wrong guy?” If God is “in control,” then why should we even vote? (These are rhetorical questions—I’m not looking for someone to send me your theological essay.)
Frankly, I am dreading tonight. Not because I am worried about who will be elected and what it will mean, but I dread the gloating and the depression, the hype and the fear.
Last election I was on the road teaching while the votes were coming in. That night, I had taught about God’s heart for the poor, the vulnerable——about the message of the Gospel to free the oppressed. I was staying in the home of some very nice Christian people, who switched off the television as it became clear that Obama was going to win. They just could not watch as the apocalypse ensued. (I am not exaggerating here…)
I spent the next moments holed up in my host bedroom, listening to Obama’s acceptance speech over my cell phone, as my husband held his phone up to our TV at home. Tears poured down my cheeks as I meditated on the distance we have come since my birth during the Nixon era to electing a black man as our president——while out in the living room I could hear the teenage daughter of my host family wailing, “I don’t want to get up tomorrow morning! I don’t know what the world is going to look like tomorrow!”
Once again, I am on the road on election day, and it just so happens that again tonight I will be teaching about God’s heart for the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, the oppressed. I will be heralding the claims of the Gospel of Jesus to heal the brokenhearted, to give sight to the blind, to give liberty to those who are oppressed and to declare the Year of Jubilee. This is the agenda——the platform——of our King.
I often am accused of being naive (and I am sure this accusation is somewhat true). I know that the issues are many, and complicated, and that LOVE seems to be an oversimplification. But I also know that Jesus (The President of the Kingdom in which we have our citizenship) made his mission——his agenda——clear, very simple.
I am anxious for this day to be over and for us to get on with being about our Father’s business.
Shane says it better than I ever could in this piece: