After today we will see no more campaign ads. The election will be over. It will be a time to breathe a sigh of relief. It has been a divisive election for the country; it has been a divisive election for those of us in the church. I have been saddened to see the harsh, vitriolic rhetoric of the candidates spilling into discussions between those in the church. “You can’t be a Christian and vote for ________” (insert the name of the major candidate you are not voting for here) is one of the headlines I have seen again and again. Let’s face it, those statements are divisive and guilt mongering. In truth, no candidate is worthy of my vote as a Christian. Of course, no person is worthy of God’s vote to receive grace, and yet He voted for me and I was elected – unanimously. I have not told anyone who I am voting for because to me it would be a shameful confession that is between me and God, and my wife. Nevertheless, someone will be elected and we as Christians will have one major responsibility: pray for that person.
No matter who is elected, though, we need to remember that the church will survive. We (the Church) survived Nero. We survived many different Roman emperors who sought to eradicate us. We have survived those who would meld the Church with the State. We have survived persecutions, purges, and inquisitions. There is only one thing that will cause the Church to disintegrate and fall apart: lack of love. “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.” (2 John 5)
This is why the caustic nature of this election is so heart-breaking. I have seen and experienced too many instances of people placing their political choice in front of their love for other Christians. Instead of saying, “Oh, you’re voting for the candidate that I don’t like, that’s interesting. We still have the love of Jesus together, right?” we attack by saying things like, “How can you vote for the anti-Christ? When did you lose your faith?” Let me repeat more specifically, when I look at the morals and the positions of the candidates, I find no one who can claim the mantle as the Christian choice. I think most followers of Christ realize that, and when they latch onto a candidate instead of explaining why their candidate is the best choice for a Christian to vote for, they attack the other candidate and their supporters because no Christian in their right mind ought to be able to claim to follow Christ and vote for that candidate.
Yet in this election, I see hope. The hope of Christians in this, and any election, is our own election to receive the grace of God in Jesus Christ. The hope following the election is that we still have the privilege and responsibility of sharing the good news and the hope of Jesus Christ to a hopeless world. We have the hope that as we pray for our new president, whoever he or she may be, that God will continue to work in our world – not because of who our President is, but because of His great love for all people. That hope can only be fulfilled when we, as God’s people, continue to love each other. It was said in the early centuries of the church about Christians in a derogatory manner, “Those Christians, they love each other before they know each other.” Today, and in the days to come, may it be that this would be the worst thing those outside the church could say about each of us as followers of Christ. It is the command we have had from the beginning of the Church.
Lord God, we have an election today. I pray for our candidates. I pray that You take control of their hearts and that You will guide and lead them today and in years to come. I pray that whoever is elected would sense Your presence and guidance and follow You. I pray for Your church, also. Help us to love each other no matter what happens in the world around us, especially in this election.