By Daryl Crouch
“Elections have consequences.”
That’s a fact. Leaders and the decisions they make, the policies they implement, and the laws they pass affect people at a deep personal level.
Several cultural issues should be enough motivate every Christian to care about elections, to cast our ballot, and to live as salt and light in the public square.
But every time I hear the phrase, “Elections have consequences,” I feel a tug toward anxiety and fear. What if my candidates lose? If they lose, what will I lose? What will my children lose?
After today’s presidential election concludes, about half us will be on the “losing side.” When the results are known, many of our family, friends, and neighbors will reel from the sting of defeat.
On the other hand, about half of us will be on the “winning side” of this presidential election. Our candidate will have prevailed allowing us to dodge the fearful consequences of loss. We will rest easier knowing that a win for our candidate means a win for us.
Despite this conventional wisdom, however, gospel people know that just because our candidate wins, all isn’t well; and just because our candidate loses, all isn’t lost. We know an Electoral College map doesn’t tell the whole story.
How then should we live with one another in light of the wins and losses of Election Day? Consider leading your church through these three practices for your post-Election Day blues—or reds.
1. Deepen your faith in the Lord
Most arguments I have with my wife only erupt after a long bout with unchecked inner anxiety. What comes out in the open was already raging within.
Much of the incivility and discord in the public square—even among evangelicals—comes from a place of fear not faith.
When Jesus and His disciples were in a boat being swamped by the wind and waves, the disciples woke Jesus up and rebuked him because they were afraid of losing their lives.
He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm (Matthew 8:26).
Drowning is a real and present danger, but Jesus knew the greater threat was not his disciples dying at sea, but rather surviving the storm without learning to trust in him.
Today’s election calls us from little faith marked by anxiety and anger to greater faith marked by confidence in Jesus who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17).
As the redeemed people of God, this is our moment to turn away from every temptation to doubt His faithfulness and to deepen our trust in him.
This is our moment, win or lose, to stop our fighting and know that the Lord is God and that he will be exalted among the nations. He will be exalted throughout the earth (Psalms 46:10).
2. Use words to build the kingdom
“Toxicity” used to be a word that described a poison or pollutant that caused harm when ingested. Now it describes the way we talk to one another.
James warns us:
“With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way” (James 3:9-10).
Notice that James appeals to both the glory of God and the worth of our fellow human beings. We cannot honor the Lord and yet despise those who bear His image. One is an affront against the other.
So as the election results come in and the next presidential administration takes shape, many people will be taking their verbal shots to disparage the character and motives of winners and losers, to stir up trouble and to divide people, or just to vent personal frustrations.
In contrast, believers have a unique responsibility to use our words in at least four ways:
- We promote an eternal kingdom where Jesus is already the reigning King.
- We use gracious language that honors and highly esteems every person created by God.
- We speak biblical truth with both conviction and compassion.
- We have a divine mandate from Jesus himself to use our words to promote unity among God’s people that bears tangible evidence of the Good News that God sent His only Son to save sinners.
3. Live as an ambassador for Jesus Christ.
Ambassadors, like missionaries, reside in a country that isn’t their permanent home. It’s a temporary but incredibly important assignment.
The ambassador doesn’t gain influence by disguising herself as a citizen, but by serving as a representative from a different nation or kingdom. It’s her foreign status that enlarges her influence in her temporary country of residence.
In the fog of an election season, it’s not difficult for believers to forget why we’re here. The United States is an exceptional nation, blessed by God, and endowed with opportunities few nations have possessed.
One of those divine opportunities is to give a wide berth for gospel people to seek Jesus’ kingdom first and to build a platform for the greatest missionary movement in the history of the world.
Because our permanent citizenship is in heaven, distinct from our earthly citizenship, our current assignment is clear:
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God.’ He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).
If we have any responsibility at all in this moment, Christians have been called to be ministers of reconciliation.
By His grace, God calls us to live as temporary residents as we proclaim a message of reconciliation, peace with God through Jesus Christ.
So we don’t attempt to blend into this temporary kingdom. We don’t segregate ourselves according to political tribes.
Instead, we live with Christian distinction as we plead, beg, and passionately invite all kinds of people from every corner of our community, from across every political aisle, and from every people group to new life in Christ.
Elections do have consequences. On January 20, 2021 a president will begin his term and his policies will affect millions of people and impact generations to come.
We should care deeply about the outcome and advocate for what will honor the Lord and serve our neighbors well.
There will never be an election that holds the gospel hostage. No election result steals our peace, upends our calling in Christ, or changes our kingdom citizenship.
But every election is yet another occasion to deepen our faith, speak life to our neighbors, and live with holy distinction here and now for kingdom still to come.
DARYL CROUCH (@darylcrouch) is senior pastor of Green Hill Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.