Wednesday morning brought no shortage of political analysts musing that evangelical Christians have lost their political influence. One can only hope.
We are living in the middle of a Holocaust where an untold number of people are killed every year because they are inconvenient. This election was at the very least a referendum on if Americans care about that fact–obviously the majority does not. But did we really need an election to tell us that?
I remember when Bush was reelected eight years ago, and a roommate of mine was so excited because exit polls said that evangelicals are what swung the election his way. The danger with that kind of news is that evangelicals get drunk with supposed power, and they begin to think that maybe elections really are an effective way to exert influence. To the extent that any evangelicals did imbibe, yesterday was the hangover.
Now that the lot has been cast, this day of disappointment has caused me to take note of a few lessons. This is what I’ve learned:
1) I may be disappointed, but God laughs (Stephen Altrogee made this point especially well). The outcome of this election is clear evidence that much of our nation scoffs at morality and scorns God’s standards. In some sense, it was as close to a mutiny against divine law as the circumstances allowed. Yet God is not troubled. The nations may rage and the people may plot an evil thing, but God still reigns. In fact, he must look with amusement at our attempts to overthrow his rule.
2) Elections are the fruit, not the root, of morality. While certainly the next four years will make it practically and logistically easier to continue the holocaust in our midst, the election is not the cause of those deaths. People will die because they are killed, and they are killed because the human heart is selfish and desires to murder. This election simply reflects the fact that our culture either does not view abortion as murder, or simply doesn’t care all that much. In that sense, the election is the thermometer, not the thermostat. If that is true, then it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be angry at the outcome. Disappointment is appropriate, but if you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, it is silly to blame the mirror.
3) Politics are not an effective means of steering a culture’s morality. People are changed when the gospel is at work in their heart, and this is a work of the Lord. If Psalm 20 were written today, verse seven might say “Some trust in politicians, and others trust in elections, but we trust Yahweh.” If the goal is the glory of God revealed in the world, the means are evangelism and gospel faithfulness. If the goal is something more practical—such as fewer murders—the means are the same. The only tool God has given us is Spirit-empowered evangelism. I don’t mean this as a critique of Christians in government, nor as a justification for apathy. I’m thankful for those in government who recognize murder as evil, and for those who recognize that the government’s main job is to check evil. I simply mean that it is discipleship that changes lives, not voting. Or, as one prophet of our age is fond of saying, Government Can’t Save You.
I did not learn those three points yesterday. Yesterday simply gave me the opportunity to reflect on them, and to consider the fact that our God is in heaven, and he does whatever he pleases. To the extent that Tuesday’s election reminds Christians of the folly of trusting in voting to change a country, I hope it is a lesson we only need to be reminded of once.