What Shall We Learn? [Reflections on Election 2016]

 In Blog, Charles Cavanaugh

Three months after the election of 2016, it seems that cooler heads are not necessarily prevailing. We have had time to see our first glimpses of the Trump presidency, hear words of adulation from some, and screams of anger from others. It seems every general election (the ones in which we elect a President) brings new cries and claims from left and right that this is the most important election of our time. While these claims may elicit from us yawns and criticisms of overstatement, it does seem that we live in an era in which every four years brings us the challenge that this election is indeed the most significant yet. Perhaps this is because we are witnessing a culture “civil war” with major battles occurring at the ballot booth. The deep cultural and moral divide only deepens as the stakes escalate. We watch and wait with varying degrees of optimism. As evangelical Christians we hope and pray that our God will have mercy on us, not giving us what we deserve but what we are convinced we need.

I have been among those who have hoped and prayed for certain results in local, state, and national election. I believe there is Biblical warrant to pray for political leaders before as well as after they are elected. As returns have come in I have had the experience of gratitude and even elation. I have also experienced deep disappointment and concern.

This election brought to me a mixed bag of concerns, convictions, and confused and convoluted feelings. I have reminded myself and others that our hope is not in worldly leaders and their agendas. I have recalled this: “For promotion does not come from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: He puts down one, and raises up another”(Ps. 75:6,7). “My hope(whether here or in eternity) is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” My head is not in the sand however. I voted prayerfully, conscientiously, and convictionally. When Joshua was about to enter the Promised Land with the children of Israel, he had an incredible experience. He was confronted by a man with his sword drawn. On the cusp of warfare, Joshua naturally wondered if the man was friend or foe, and he voiced his concern. The man identified himself, then in the words of a well-known preacher of the recent past said;”I’m not here to take sides. I’m here to take charge.” We who call ourselves evangelical Christians are submitted to and trusting in the “Commander of the Lord’s army”. He is in charge. We are beholden to no man or party. The purposes of our Lord are sure and will come to pass. We must not fret because of evil doers or find unbiblical comfort in those who appear to be on our side. I am, I think, a patriot. But my patriotism is not primary. I am prone to be far too attached to this world and far too satisfied with what it offers. That is why I remind myself that my “citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself. Therefore my brothers(and sisters),… stand fast in the Lord,…”(Phil. 3:20-4:1). Thank God this is not all there is. Let us not therefore think and live as though it is. Let us attempt to live every moment to the glory of God, make every decision with eternity in view, “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,…”

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