Yesterday at the Highland Church of Christ, I shared this brief word of encouragement for how Jesus followers might enter this election week. I hope this breathes a fresh word of peace into our lives. May we not be fearful.
Henry Kissinger used to walk into the Oval Office and begin the meeting of the Presidential Cabinent by telling the people gathered, “Today, we will make decisions that will impact the course of human history!”
And they believed him. They felt the weight of the world on their shoulders.
And then Watergate happened. It was the scandal that rocked the nation, and a few of the gentlemen who were in that room, the ones who were making decisions that would change the course of history, went to prison. One of those people was Charles Colson, and it was in prison that Jesus found Charles Colson. He became a part of a thriving jail ministry, and after he was released Colson kept serving in a prison ministry where he saw thousands of people become followers of Jesus.
Decades later, Colson would make a trip to Rome, where he would walk around the great historic city and it’s cites. And he said as he walked around the ruins of the once great Rome, it slowly dawned on him that the Roman Senators probably started off their days with someone telling them “The decisions that we made today will change to course of human history.”
And the late Charles Colson realized that “Today that Rome is just a pile of rocks, but the Kingdom of God just keeps going on.”
A couple of weeks ago Rubel Shelley wrote an article in the Tennessean where he pointed out that each election year people say that this is the worst, most negative one yet. But it probably isn’t. Rubel pointed back to the election of 1800, when John Adams (the sitting President) was fighting for re-election against Thomas Jefferson (the sitting Vice-President!)
President Adams’ camp called Jefferson an atheist, a libertine and a coward; they stumped with the claim that the election offered a choice between “God and a religious president, or Jefferson and no God!” Which sounds like a familiar stump speech. The rumor was that Jefferson would gather and burn all the Bibles upon his second inauguration. And Vice President Jefferson was just as hateful. They started a smear campaign calling Adams “hideous with hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”
Politics are ugly.
What’s crazy, is that these guys were friends, and after the election they became buddies again. The Godless Jefferson and the he/she Adams.
Every election it seems like my immediate world goes crazy, my Facebook feed is filled with people who say some pretty hateful bitter, fearful things, to and about other Jesus followers who don’t agree with them on the direction of America, and about who should lead them there. And the common thing for every election I can remember is the idea that “this is the most important one yet.”
We have the weight of the world on our shoulders, we feel as if the decision we make on Tuesday will affect the course of human history. We are nervous and angry and fearful. But fear is often the result of misplaced hope. And so I’d like to offer 2 words for you in the middle of what will surely be an anxiety filled week for some of us. Here they are:
Don’t know who that is?
He was the 21st president. It was a tense, ugly fear-filled election. Back then, everyone was sure that this was the most important election we would ever see, and today most of us have no idea who he even was.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t vote, or care about America. I’m very thankful that we live in a place where every four years we have a peaceful transfer of power, without tanks or guns. I’m very glad to be a part of the American experiment. America is a very good thing.
But idols are very rarely bad things, in fact, they almost always good things. But they are secondary things that we’ve made primary things. This is a word of caution against making secondary things the primary things. If you are a Jesus-follower than my prayer for you this week is that you would be a good resident of the nation that you live in, but be reminded that you are primarily a citizen of the Kingdom of God. After all, the word Christian means people of the King.
In other words, you’ve already voted.
The Kingdom of God is secure, and it suffers no losses, it goes from era to era, passing nations and rulers and ideologies. The Kingdom of God persists as towers and statues turn to ruins and rubble. It will be standing through the next 4 years, as well as the next 4000. No matter what the results of the elections on Tuesday, Jesus still sits on his throne and the church will continue to live into this reality on Wednesday, and every day after.
So may God breathe into us the peace of Christ.
May we be the peaceful presence of Jesus in a chaotic, anxiety filled world.
May we speak well of and with people who disagree with us.
May our hope in God’s future override any joy or anxiety of short term political wins or losses.
May we not be afraid.
May we be secure in the unshakable Kingdom of God.
Grace and Peace,