Perspectives on the 2016 presidential election and our place in culture
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. - Titus 3:1-2
As we anticipate Tuesday's election, many of us are prepared to pray and hopefully participate. We should pray and participate remembering that God is the ruler of all and that no ruler is in a position of power or influence outside of the sovereignty of God. But the outcome of the presidential election, as well as the election of many other governmental representatives, will come to a quick end Tuesday night (hopefully). Our votes and our prayers will have accomplished their purposes, no matter the outcome. The sun will rise on Wednesday to some new realities but our responsibilities as Christ-followers won't end with the election. Every day, our lives should reflect the reality of our heavenly citizenship in the context of our worldly citizenship.
As part of the practical application of the fact that we have been redeemed by God through Jesus and are waiting for his return, the apostle Paul challenged his coworker, Titus, to remind the believers he was shepherding to live out their faith in a hostile culture. This is done in several ways.
Submission and obedience to those in authority. Christians should be the best examples of good citizenship, regardless of who is in authority.
Good works. Christians should go beyond submission to authority; we should be active in doing good to others in our communities. Our good works have eternal value while our votes are quite temporary in their influence.
Respectful communication. The hubris, slander and often offensive language used during an election season is, very simply, disrespectful and contrary to the way Christians ought to speak. Regardless of our opinion regarding those in authority, our speech should be gracious and honorable.
Peace. Our public interactions, even in a hostile culture, should be marked by cooperation and understanding rather than being argumentative and quarrelsome. Sadly, there are Christians who fail at this and do great harm to the testimony of Jesus.
Gentleness and courtesy. Take only a few moments to observe the demeanor of many people on social media or during political debates or in interviews and talk shows - gentleness is rare. Yet, that is a virtue that Christians should display consistently. Courtesy is almost non-existent in our current political context. People talk and shout over each other, say insulting things about others and generally act without regard for the dignity of others - especially for those with whom they disagree. This is not how we should act.
You may doubt if your vote matters. But do not doubt that your conduct and character matter greatly to God and will be used by him perhaps in ways even more significant than your vote. So vote, pray and wait. But also continue to live as one who is redeemed and who is confident of one day living in a peaceful kingdom with a perfect king. Let your faith be seen in how you live as a citizen of the United States of America who is first and foremost a citizen of heaven.