Presidential elections over the last thirty years have been excruciatingly close. Only one president has garnered more than fifty-0ne percent of the popular vote. Most have squeaked their way into the White House by less than three points. This year promises to be another nail-biter. If so, the results of the election could be litigated for months on end. What is a Christian’s responsibility after the voting is over?
A Nation Divided
Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall” (Luke 11:17)
In 2000, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in what may have been the closest race in presidential history. Bush lost the nation-wide popular vote by 0.5%, but won the electoral college by an even smaller margin. It all came down to Florida, which Bush won by 537 votes out of almost six million votes cast.
After a prolonged and exacerbating recount coupled with a little help from the Supreme Court, Al Gore conceded and Bush was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States. He won the deciding electoral votes by less than 0.01% of Florida’s popular vote.
This year’s election may not be quite as close, but with the added burden of fighting a pandemic and the potential controversy of mail-in ballots, it could be just as difficult to navigate.
In addition, our nation has become even more polarized over the last twenty years, both sides of the aisle crystallizing and seemingly ready to fight to the bitter end should the results be contested.
What should Christians do after we vote? What is the Christian’s role when the nation is screaming in a painful divide?
A Post-Election Christian Response
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:9).
Christians are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God. We view our earthly citizenship as secondary and temporary. Our role on earth is to broker peace between God and fallen humanity. We are ambassadors of an invisible Kingdom sent into the world to preach the Good News of God’s reconciling work in Christ Jesus.
Don’t misunderstand — although our work is grounded in heaven, it has a tremendous impact on the earth. Jesus taught us to pray this way: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
How then can we make a difference in a potentially chaotic post-election world?
The short answer is that we can pray and work for peace and unity in both our words and actions.
Here are three suggestions for how to do that:
1. Pray for peace
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matt. 5:9).
When the angels first announced the birth of Jesus to a startled group of shepherds, this is what they said about the baby: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
Isaiah predicted that Jesus would be called the “prince of peace” (Isa. 9:6).
So, where’s the peace? The answer is that it is found inside of you. You are God’s gift of peace to this world.
The night before his crucifixion, Jesus promised his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
We are the community that works tirelessly for peace over and against hatred, war, and violence.
2. Work towards reconciliation
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).
When I was a kid, I was a Royal Ambassador (Baptist version of Boy Scouts). This was our key verse. We are ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. Wherever we go, we represent Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and the one who is reconciling the world to God.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear when he writes,
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:17-19).
We are the community that brings people together in the name of God’s love.
3. Live for the “Good News” of Jesus Christ.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
The Apostle Paul was sitting in prison, facing a possible death sentence as he awaited his trial before the Roman emperor. Meanwhile, his enemies were leveraging the situation to undermine everything he had worked for in Macedonia and Asia Minor.
“It doesn’t matter,” Paul responded, “It’s not about me. The only thing that matters is Jesus.”
We are the community that lives to share the “Good News” that God loves you and wants to be with you forever.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).
We don’t live for political slogans.
We are the community that lives for Jesus.
God bless you as you pray for peace, work towards reconciliation, and live for Jesus!