So Donald Trump won. (I can’t believe I just typed that.) Maybe you voted one way. Maybe the other. What now, Christian?
To you who voted Republican, I would say, make good on your commitment to life. Fight for the unborn. Fight for the minority. Fight for all who are oppressed and abused. Fight for whatever is true, right, and admirable.
To you who voted Democratic or third party, your fear is understandable. No one but God knows what the next four years hold. While believers trust that authorities have been instituted by God, we must hold those authorities accountable to do justice for all. Remember your Christian brothers and sisters around the world, under better and worse administrations, and know that God is on his throne no less today than yesterday for them or for you.
One thing, I think, is probably clear to everyone after yesterday’s unexpected results: America is a divided country. Even more regrettably, some of that division characterizes our churches. Do you understand why some of your fellow saints are feeling numb right now? I pray so.
Where the Real Political Action Is
More than anybody, then, it’s high time for Christians and churches to turn our heads from the national news and focus our attention back to where the real political action occurs. It’s not in Washington, and it’s not through a quadrennial affair. No, no. It’s a weekly affair—and it occurs in and through our churches. Every week, our congregations gather as embassies of heaven. Every week, our pastors make a political speech, and we go out as ambassadors with a political message. “The King offers pardon for every rebel who would repent!” Every week—and all week—our churches should exemplify for the nations divine righteousness, justice, and love.
A local church is a model body politic for the world. It’s the most political of assemblies since it represents the One with final judgment over presidents and prime ministers. Together we confront, condemn, and call nations with the light of our King’s words and the saltiness of our lives.
A church is an embassy of heaven . . . a model body politic for the world. It’s the most political of assemblies since it represents the One with final judgment over presidents. Each week, our pastors make a political speech, and we go out as ambassadors with a political message.
Paul asked the Jews of his day, “You who preach against stealing, do you steal?”
I’ve got a few questions of my own. You who call for immigration reform, do you practice hospitality with strangers?
You who vote for family values, do you honor your parents and love your spouse self-sacrificially?
You who speak against abortion, do you physically and emotionally defraud your girlfriend? Let worldly ambition delay having children? Never make it home in time for the soccer game? Quietly acquiesce to abortion itself when push comes to shove? Or do you embrace and assist the single mothers in your church? Do you encourage adoption?
You who talk about welfare reform, do you give to the needy in your congregation?
You who proclaim that all lives matter, who are your friends? Do they all look like you?
You who rightly lament structural injustices, do you work against them in your own congregation? Do you rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep?
You who fight for traditional marriage, do you submit to your husband, or love your wife, cherishing her as you would your own body and washing her with the water of the Word?
You who are concerned about the economy and the job market, do you obey your boss with a sincere heart, not as a people pleaser but as you would obey Christ?
You who care about corporate tax rates, how do you treat your employees? Do you threaten them, forgetting that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him?
You who opine on social media, do you gladly share the Lord’s Supper with the church member who disagrees? Do you pray for their spiritual good?
All Politics Is Local
“All politics is local,” said former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill. He spoke better than he knew.
My church, which gathers six blocks from the U.S. Capitol, is filled with young people who moved to D.C. wanting to make a difference by working in various spheres of government. And their work matters. And yesterday’s vote matters. And people are right to rejoice or grieve over any given election. After all, good governments are prerequisites to the rest of life, including the life of the church.
But as a pastor, I often have to remind our Hill staffers and K Street lobbyists and military officers that the prerequisite isn’t the ultimate. The ultimate political action occurs in our church gatherings, since any political impact our fellow members make in and through the church will last forever.
The ultimate political action occurs in our church gatherings, for any political impact our fellow members make in and through the church will last forever.
It’s fine to play with sand castles, but don’t you want to build a castle that will last forever? Isn’t that where the real action is? If you prioritize a prerequisite politics over the ultimate politics you don’t understand politics.
Just and Lasting Peace
Abraham Lincoln, at the beginning of his second administration, called on the nation to strive to “achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
My question for you, Christian, is this: Where should we expect to achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations? Won’t it come from the One who is not elected and whose term has no limits? From the One who has commissioned us to go to all nations with a message of peace? Won’t this lasting peace happen among the people who, with Holy Spirit power, beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks? Won’t Lincoln’s hope ultimately be realized in our local churches?
Here’s a start: Put away the verbal swords you might be tempted to wield against those who voted differently than you.
I love how Mark Dever put it: “Before and after America, there was and will be the church. The nation is an experiment. The church is a certainty.”