In a matter of days, our country will face an important decision: Americans everywhere will cast their votes to decide who our next president will be. Like many of you, I’ve followed the campaigns somewhat closely, because I want to be informed well enough so I can make a good decision on Tuesday. That’s just being a good citizen.
However, we’ve got to be careful we don’t place undue weight on this election. I’m always alarmed to see the anxiety, fear, and hopelessness verbalized by Christians who are prepared to panic if their man doesn’t get into the White House.
I remember listening to a talk radio show a while back. One woman called in to the program. She identified herself as a Christian, and began crying almost uncontrollably; she could barely even speak. When the host of the program asked her what was wrong, she said, “I’m terrified! I’m terrified of what will happen to our country if my candidate loses this election!”
Frankly, this is not only an immature perspective; it’s a sinful one. As Christians. we must guard against being worrywarts. Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV). Allowing our hope to rise on fall based on how well one man (or group of men) can improve our situation in the here and now says to the world, “I know I say that I trust in God, but functionally I believe it all hinges on a man.” By our over-concern with election outcomes we demonstrate a misplaced hope. Remember the Psalmist: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7 ESV).
An over-emphasis on politics also detracts from our main mission, which is “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”. Being a light to the world is done through Christlike behavior and spreading the gospel, not political lobbying. We must not fool ourselves into believing that “if only my man gets in the White House”, that this will somehow usher in the millennial kingdom. Again, this reveals a misplaced hope.
You see, we need to understand that our problems are not rooted in poor legislation or immoral politicians; rather, the problem lies in the human heart, which is deceitful above all else, and desperately wicked; and the remedy to this lies in the life-changing power of the gospel, not in political maneuvering.
Some of you will wake up on Wednesday after the election, turn on the news, and find yourselves deeply disappointed (I‘m speaking to both sides, of course). But if we are trusting in a president to change the sin we see around us, we are guilty of “trusting in horses or chariots” rather than the Name of the Lord our God. Our hope lies not in an elephant, nor in a donkey, but in a One who is both a lamb and a lion.
Remember, even if your guy does not get elected, God is still in control; His sovereign hands at no time leave the helm by which He steers the universe where He wills. Steve Lawson said it well at a conference I went to yesterday: “During this election cycle, we must remember that God is still ruling the universe, by a theocracy, by a vote of One, and you don’t get a vote.” Even if you think the wrong guy gets elected, remember this: “The king’s (or President’s) heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1 ESV).
Let’s get our focus where it needs to be: Jesus Christ, Himself perfect and complete, without any need of our company, descended to earth, humbling Himself as a man, suffering the excruciating torture at the hands of men He created, and became a sacrifice for the very problem I spoke of earlier: our wicked hearts. He took the punishment that our wickedness and rebellion against the Father had earned, and He did so out of His great love for us, and to glorify His heavenly Father.
Let’s lay down the idol of political worship this morning, and instead determine in our hearts to keep our hope where it belongs: in the life-changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in our anticipation of being united with Him through all eternity.
Please don’t misunderstand me: I strongly encourage each of you to vote your consciences on Tuesday. It really is important. But realize that you can wake up Wednesday morning with a hope that transcends this world, regardless of the outcome of any election.