As a student of politics I have studied and written about elections and the political process for the past 20 years. I am not alone when I say that this election is singular in its rhetoric and scope. This election season has been painful to watch. It has caused real division; breaking bonds of friendship, exposing rifts in ideology and exaggerating differences in policy. These differences are real, these divisions are deep and they are heartbreaking.
For many of us who are Republicans and many of us who are Democrats, we look at our respective party’s nominee and feel ashamed. As Americans, we see the issues discussed on the evening news, Facebook feeds and comments, and we are embarrassed. As evangelical Christians, we examine the political landscape and find no place to call “home.”
I will admit even as a pastor during this election season I have often ended my days disheartened and discouraged for our present and ever mindful about our future. In times like these, when we are tempted to fear, we must return to the promises in God’s Word. After all, Scripture insists that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and self control.
And that means we have hope, even amid a political season that can seem hopeless.
Hope for America
America is a great country, even with its flaws and its imperfections.
My hope in the future of America comes from our history. Even a brief glance across the 240 years of our experience showcases our resilience as a nation. As uniquely bad as this election appears to be, and as low as the rhetoric has been, history shows that we’ve risen through worse.
We have seen times when hatred led to the division of our union, and other times when our cities were set afire by racial injustice. There have been election years when candidates were assassinated prior to election day, and years when they were killed not long after inauguration.
And yet, the country wrestles with the depths and mountain tops, and hopes on to the future.
The key to our resilience lies in the fundamental truths and freedoms that form the basis for our government. The ideals enshrined in our founding documents are not “American” ideals.
They’re eternal principles rooted in a common grace that values liberty based in humble restraint and freedom that springs from knowing a single truth. A truth that affirms that the life we live, our desire for freedom, and the ability to pursue the enjoyment of both have been given to us by God alone; that truth will always trump momentary political division and upheaval.
Hope for the Kingdom
One of the most tragic outcomes of this election season has been the effect it has had on the evangelical Christian community in America. The election has exposed a deep division among the community’s leadership and a frightening reality about the community’s members.
Early on an Easter morning 2,000 years ago, the sun rose on a different world. Christ’s resurrection was the first act of a new kingdom, it was an inauguration day like no other in history. Christ began a work with His resurrection that continues and will continue until He returns again. That work is to renew and transform this world from darkness into marvelous light; this begins with each one of us. Every Christian is a citizen of this new world order, this kingdom with no end, we live our lives in light of this truth and it effects our worldly interactions and supersedes our earthly allegiances.
All ideologies of governance and every political theory are but a shadow of the hope and answers found in Christ. When Evangelical leaders fixate on political remedies and rest in political power and influence, they are simply chasing shadows.
The presence of division this year has caused many to doubt the future of evangelicalism and Christianity in America.
What hope do we have?
Our faith must rest in the word of God, in the hope and the promise that Christ has made us one body, and nothing can undo what He has started. There is an old saying that history is but a series attacks upon the Word of God, like a blacksmith hammering away with great force against the anvil, there are times when it looks as though the church will not survive another strike. But the Word of God, is an anvil that has withstood a thousand hammers.
Political division, cultural difference, ethnic strife, nakedness, distress, persecution all break themselves upon the promise that nothing can separate us from a God who loves us. For His love makes us conquerors and His spirit makes us family.