Like millions of people outside the United States, I am watching the U.S. elections from afar but with great interest. Given the headlines and the articles on my news feed, on any given day my emotions can range from incredulity and disgust to pangs of dread over the potential outcome. As a student of political science who has lived in countries where democracy has yet to take root, I am engrossed in the rhetoric, watching the interplay between politicians, the media, comments on online articles and Facebook, and even conversations with local Romanians or people we talk with while we travel. From the college senior finishing up a term paper in a local coffee shop, to the mom driving her kids to school or the senior citizen walking his dog – in the U.S. this is a topic on nearly everyone’s mind.
Recognizing how the election season impacts my mindset and will impact the future of the United States, I asked myself one question to help frame my perspective in this season of politics. How do I consider the election year in a Biblical fashion? I intentionally did not use the phrase ‘Christian fashion’ because ideas of what it means to be ‘Christian’ are so often informed by culture and upbringing, which might be worlds apart from what the Bible teaches. So, what can we understand about the election year from God’s revealed truth to man?
1. It is human nature to breed fear by emphasizing and focusing on uncertainty. Stock markets rise and fall on the basis of uncertainty. Uncertainty in America’s political future has many gripping their seats in white-knuckled fear. This is a good time to be reminded that there is no uncertainty with God. With every new poll and every new primary or caucus, as I eagerly anticipate reading the results when I wake up the next morning , I find great comfort in knowing that God already knows the outcome! God knows everything from the past to the future, all at the same time. This attribute of God’s character is called omniscience. When we understand God’s character and believe in his omniscience, it leads to comfort and peace in the midst of uncertain times.
“I find great comfort in knowing that
God already knows the outcome.”
2. The election is not outside God’s purview, where he sits on his throne. Though the U.S. the election season may seem out of control, it is not out of God’s control. This is when I am encouraged to remember a key Biblical doctrine called sovereignty. As theologian John Piper sermonized, “Sometimes we need to be reminded by God himself that there are no limits to his rule. We need to hear from him that he is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it. We need his own reminder that he is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss. We need his assurance that he reigns over ISIS, terrorism, Syria, Russia, China, India, Nigeria, France, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and the United States of America — every nation, every people, every language, every tribe, every chief, president, king, premier, prime minister, politician, great or small.” God’s glory will be known, even in a messy election cycle. In his sovereignty, he knows how to do that best.
3. God is sovereign, but he is also very clear on his instructions to his people. We are to PRAY. I’ll be the first to admit that I infrequently pray for government officials, from those at the top to those at the bottom. Recently my six-year-old began asking questions about candidates she saw on TV. Who is that person? Are they good? Will they be a good president? Over dinner, when I expressed displeasure at a candidate’s stance, my daughter said, “We should pray for [candidate x].” For three days straight, my children prompted me to pray for that candidate at mealtimes, even though I was reluctant to do so.
At the very least, an election year should remind us that we are to pray about everything, casting our anxieties, worries and concerns first and foremost at the feet of the one who cares more about them then we do. If elections and candidates are something you care about, just as I do, we need to be faithful in prayer. In this election cycle, we would do well to memorize and practice Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
4. Christians around the world are living in countries where elections are taking place and the future is uncertain. Iranians just voted for a new parliament. Britons vote in June on a key election regarding their future in the European Union. Americans will vote for their president and other officials. Whatever your nationality and whether or not you live in a democracy and have the right to vote, every follower of Jesus can cling to the truth revealed in Scripture that they are part of the “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Under the new covenant, Believers in every country of the world are the chosen nation – the Church. God’s nation is not defined by a particular nationality, ethnicity, physical border or landmass. Through the vicissitudes of the election year, we can be encouraged that Believers around the world are also struggling through similar issues and concerns with their governments. While we live under authorities ordained by God, Christians across the globe live in the greater hope of Christ’s return and an end to man’s best efforts to govern and keep evil at bay. When Christ returns, that work will be done!