Much ink has been spilled during this election season about the two major candidates, and now we’re finally here: Today, the United States will have a new president. It will either be Hillary Clinton, someone many Christians distrust due to her apparent dishonesty, political shadiness regarding emails and the Clinton Foundation, and her strong support for virtually unlimited abortion, or it will be Donald Trump, someone who embarrasses conservatives with his bluster, nonsense remarks, ignorance of many issues, and insecure pride. Isn’t that exciting.
Many have called this the most important election in our lifetime. Maybe it is; then again, they say that about pretty much every election, and they probably will again in 2020. For those who put a lot of stock into getting their way in this lifetime, every election will feel like the most important one ever. Every victory moves one’s agenda forward in possible domination over the opposition. Every defeat is a step back that has to be made up in subsequent elections, which is difficult and annoying. Political tribalism is rampant, and everyone is afraid of “losing” their country to those devils on the other side of the aisle.
In contrast, Christians do not (or at least should not) put our hope in what human governments can deliver. That does not mean we remove ourselves completely from the process or do not hold politicians accountable for their stupidity, but it does mean that we understand that our ultimate citizenship is not of this world. Maybe Hillary will be a disaster who expands abortion, diminishes religious liberty, puts liberal activist judges on the Supreme Court, and enacts inefficient and naive economic policies. Maybe Trump will be a mess who breaks every other promise he has made, ticks off everyone in the international community, betrays his conservative supporters, appoints justices who really aren’t constitutional conservatives, and otherwise acts like a bull in a China shop. Most likely, whoever is president, his or her successes or failures will be felt for years to come, as it is with every other president who has ever held office. And guess what? The Church will survive. Not only that, the Church can even thrive as long as Christians remain faithful. The reason we can know this is because it is promised by Christ, irrespective of government.
Whoever is in charge in whatever government, Christ reigns supreme. That is true in the United States under a president we may not like and that is true in actually repressive countries such as North Korea. This should always give a level of peace to Christians because even if crap goes down in this life, we know that we who are in Christ already have the victory. We should still care about what happens in public policy because it does affect how freely and clearly we can share the Gospel, but governments do not determine whether or not we do share it or how secure we are in Christ.
Regardless of the results today, there will be a sense in which Christians have “lost.” Hillary stands for things that are unpalatable for Christians. Trump’s character and antics make any conservative alliance with him distasteful and potentially damaging. Either one will be irritating and concerning, for no one can tell what the future ramifications will be. We are, however, assured of this: Christ has defeated death and sin, and whosoever believes in him will be saved and have eternal life. With that in mind, we should view the election with the appropriate level of concern: Important, but not the most important. Serious, but not as serious as the issue of sin and the Gospel. This allows us to rejoice and do God’s work whatever the results may be.
I am not going to lie: I am concerned about the direction of this country, and I have been for years, well before this rather ridiculous election. There are troubling trends in philosophy and culture of which this election is just a symptom. Still, whatever consternation I may have, I know that I can put my trust in Christ and know that his kingdom will prevail. I plan to get up tomorrow morning and lead small group just like every other week because Christ will still be Lord.
And so we wait. An important decision looms for this country, but who will be president for the next 4 years is rather minor stuff when compared to the one who is the Lord forever.