Our republic chicken has laid its electoral egg. The question remains of what will appear once it’s cracked. We fear the taste of the breakfast that will be put before us soon, and the racket in the kitchen. As we wait for whatever the short-order legal cooks will bring out (and to put this strung-out metaphor to bed), here are some thoughts about what we do now:
Grasp for Perspective
As is my habit, I checked challies.com yesterday, the website of Tim Challies, the most popular Christian blogger. Here is what he posted:
In all the years I’ve been writing I have never had to type words more difficult, more devastating than these: Yesterday the Lord called my son to himself—my dear son, my sweet son, my kind son, my godly son, my only son.
Nick was playing a game with his sister and fiancée and many other students when he suddenly collapsed, never regaining consciousness. Students, paramedics, and doctors battled valiantly, but could not save him. He’s with the Lord he loved, the Lord he longed to serve. We have no answers to the what or why questions.
Yesterday Aileen and I cried and cried until we could cry no more, until there were no tears left to cry. Then, later in the evening, we looked each other in the eye and said, “We can do this.” We don’t want to do this, but we can do this—this sorrow, this grief, this devastation—because we know we don’t have to do it in our own strength. We can do it like Christians, like a son and daughter of the Father who knows what it is to lose a Son.
We travelled through the night to get to Louisville so we could be together as a family. And we ask that you remember us in your prayers as we mourn our loss together. We know there will be gruelling days and sleepless nights ahead. But for now, even though our minds are bewildered and our hearts are broken, our hope is fixed and our faith is holding. Our son is home.
Indeed, there are no words. Pray for him and his family. And let your attention in prayer also drift over those in our congregation who are facing loss, perhaps soon. And over those, like Alan Clark, who serve in the National Guard to deal with riots, and those like Steve Demers, who serve directly in the voting process.
But let this note also move you to grasp for the proper perspective. An election campaign is all about getting you to lose your perspective – to see things in such a way that suits a candidate or party and their issues. That is not to say that those issues are unimportant. Nor is it to say that voter fraud should not be fought and protested vigorously. They should, by Christians. But we do so holding onto an alien perspective: our God holds our lives and the nations in His hand, like drops in a bucket. The nations are as nothing before Him (Isaiah 40:17ff). The issues debated in this election are important and yet momentary. We live once and then judgment, for all things done in darkness (Heb. 9:27).
Remember, God is Sovereign
By “sovereign”, I mean in utter control of every breath we take, and every vote we cast, whether in integrity, or on behalf of “resurrected” 118 year-olds who died in Detroit in 1984. God is in utter, determining control, over all of it. There is great mystery here, but also great comfort.
Who could have predicted Trump being President in the first place? God’s methods in wielding His utter, determining control are mysterious, interesting, and plenty often He writes the script with a wry smile on His face.
Again, see Isaiah 40. The false gods of men and lust for power drove this election. But they’re false. The God of Isaiah 40 is (still) God. And He is bringing to pass, mysteriously but inexorably, a city with foundations – a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And He shakes this one to bring that one (Heb. 12:18-29). This hope stabilizes us.
But that does not mean that we just sit back and wait, without action. God’s sovereignty gives us our footing, when the ground shakes, but it also frees us, to risk-taking love. Thus . . .
More Creating, Less Consuming
If you’re like me, you’ve done more consuming of the words of others in the last few weeks than is good for your soul. Time to rejigger, to recalibrate, to rebalance. Yes, to reading your Bible as much as Twitter or your favorite news source.
But this world needs you to do more than that. God made you to create – that’s one of the amazing things about heaven. We will get to create things there – beautiful, glorious things, and it will never “not work”. But here is a world that is quickly passing away, like a midday eclipse. And we are saved to portray that coming world to this passing one. God calls us to create windows of that coming life in Christ.
This world needs it. Case in point: in my previous state of Colorado, voters just approved late-term abortions – the killing of babies, dismembering their bodies and vacuuming them out of the womb – to be discarded like trash or their parts sold for profit, far past the time (as though it matters) when they are “viable”, without medical assistance. The most vulnerable among us, treated in the most barbaric ways.
At the same time, voters in Denver, who overwhelmingly carried the above measure, voted also to allow pit bulls in their city, which had previously been banned, after the death of a number of adults and children. Pit bulls in, babies out.
Pointing out how upside down that is doesn’t magically fix the mindset that led to those two votes. Nor does democracy. No matter how many judges you get. A fully-originalist SCOTUS can never override years of indoctrination in the temples of inane, vapid religion that we call state universities.1
People need to be transformed, by tasting and seeing a better world – one that’s better than “woke” because it “works” – through the gospel. This world needs people who can introduce it to a better one.
By writing: by finding something to say, about Christ and him crucified, and then saying it! Online, in winsome letters to an old friend, in salty letters to the editor, in pungent articles . . . Find the gospel words, write them, and “full send”!
By hospitality: by finding ways to welcome that family on your street, that you know is separated from life, into your home or your backyard. Or to a church gathering.
By loving the community: by communicating, in respectful, logical protest, the ways that the government is squelching, degrading or taking away the possibility of Christians living a quiet and dignified life, while sharing the gospel (1 Tim. 2:1-7).
By connecting with the community: many people have never met a Christian. Thus we must go where they are. Join a community committee. Sit next to the agnostic, and try to solve, alongside them, issues about parks, or the homeless, or whatever. When you enter that committee room, you bring God with you. You bring salt to the soup, light to the table, just being you, God in you, there.
The time is now to commit to create more, and consume less.
You’re (Not) the Man!
But this requires that we disconnect from what drew us to vote the way we did in the first place. For months the campaigns and their (often unspoken) surrogates have tried to get you to either connect with the man Trump, in a personal way, or to get you to hate and despise the man Trump.
This election was not really about Trump’s opponents. Joe Biden was probably the worst candidate in the last 200 years. Instead it was about getting you to connect, on a level that is primal and automatic for you, as a human being: either in friendship with Trump, or in disgust of Trump. Your human instincts, for friendship or disgust, for connection or recoil, were played like a fiddle. So were mine. There’s grace for this; the gospel is still true.
But the time is now to reset, to shift weight and focus back from “the man” to The Man, Christ. No other man will never let you down. He always keeps His promises. He has unlimited power, and He wields it FOR you. In perfect wisdom. All the time, every time.
I say this because it’s true, and because our country needs somebody, somewhere to know where the light switch is. Russia, before the Bolshevik revolution, did not have this. They knew what they didn’t want – the Tsar. But they had no idea what they did want. And the Leninists filled that vacuum, with dark, destructive horror.
Only biblical, gospel-freed Christians know where that light switch is. So it is not only good for us, to shift focus, back onto Christ. It’s good for our country, too. The church is the hope of the world, because we are the light of the world, because we are in the light of the world – Christ.
Double-down on your commitment to the unity of the church.
We all say we’re FOR unity in the church. Unity is lit, yo! But it takes work. I’m struck by Paul’s weaker brother argument, in 1 Corinthians 8. We all think that the other person is the “weaker brother”. Christians who vote for Biden think that of Trump voters, with their red trucker hats that the blue voter would never be caught dead in, and Trump voters are incredulous that anyone could vote for Kamala and her running mate, with their fetish for communism and abortion.
That is not to say that there are not real issues to be debated and considered there. I am not saying that all sins are equal, before God, or in their consequences upon a society. Not at all.
But in 1 Cor. 8, the weaker brother is someone who actually believes that there are other gods besides the triune God. Think about that. And – forget the “weaker” part – Paul calls that person “brother”, or “sister”. In other words, sometimes, oftentimes, all the time, there are Christians walking around who believe some pretty wacky stuff. And again, I grant that you will define “wacky” in terms of what your “weaker” brother thinks.
Fine. And Paul says, call that wacky wonder “brother”. Welcome them, humbly, caringly, as a blood sibling. By the blood of Christ. No less. Whether they believe that God is one, or is many, lurking behind every bush, or they voted for the-one-who-shall-not-be-named, or they think that Ronald and Nancy Reagan were not human, but androids, sent by aliens to control us2.
Why? Because the church is the only government and institution in existence that will go into eternity. And then God will redeem and glorify all that wackiness, and you won’t recognize that “weaker sibling”, for the glory she’ll be robed in.
We attain unity in the present by fixing our eyes on our future. No other institution or party has this power. Though every other party or movement has an “end times”. For instance, in Communism, it’s when the proletariat rise up and everyone lives in abundant equality. But to get there, dehumanizing, blood-letting, totalitarian control must be achieved.
But not in the church. Faith in our “end times” leads us to love one another, in a unity that anticipates and pictures that coming glory.
Lawyers Unite! (Or, Down with Naiveté)
Until then, the lawyers will have their fun. It’s (mostly) out of our hands, now. It seems to me that this has been the end game that one side has telegraphed all along, in their accusations. It’s an old, old tactic in love and war: you accuse your lover or your opponent of doing the very thing that you yourself are doing, or planning to do.
Some call it gaslighting. Others call it “politics”. Some say the other side does the same thing. I’m not sure about that. I’m not sure, because there’s a lot of Christians on that side. And we’re often naive about the tactics of the world.
We shouldn’t be. Because the tactics of the world have already been played out, in the narratives of the Bible. It’s all there. When you read Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, it’s like reading the book of Kings, only set in Little Italy. My point here is simple: we need to grow out of our naïveté. Which is another way of saying, “return to our Bibles”.3
For instance, Proverbs 17:8 says:
8 A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers.
Solomon is not saying, “Bribes are good.” He’s saying, “Sometimes, when you see someone prospering wherever he goes in this cursed, ‘work by the sweat of your brow’ world, don’t be shocked when you discover that that fellow is carrying around with him the magic stone of bribery. This is the way of the world.” For Christians, who have the Bible, and computers and websites full of Scripture, we have no excuse for naïveté. Shall we not be innocent as doves? Yes. But also wise as serpents, among wolves (Matt. 10:16).