A post-election pep talk for my unhappy Christian friends

Good morning, America. I see we all survived election night. No one combusted from elation or despair and no one died of bordem. The world goes on, no matter how overly dramatic anyone feels about last night’s outcome.

Because I have a high volume of Christian conservative friends, my Facebook is flooded with a barrage of spiteful, angry, scared and dismal comments. So here’s a pep talk and lecture for my fellow Christians who are disparaging the president of the United States.

It’s good to be involved in politics, to be informed, active and passionate about the goings-on of our country. But as Christians, we must never allow our political activity to overshadow or hinder our missionary activity. We are ambassadors of Christ. Our sole reason for existence is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything we think, do and say is viewed as a reflection of the God whose name we bear. Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations. Our message and our reality are the Law and Gospel. All else are just details that we can use either for Christ’s glory or for sinful purposes.

How are you using politics today, my friends? Are you using them to bring glory and honor to God? Are you using them to open hearts and minds to the promise of salvation through Jesus? Or are  you consumed with a worldly view, selfishly airing your grievances, believing that ultimately being right and getting your way are the most important things in this life? Do you feel despair, outrage, hopelessness? If so, then you have put your trust in government and in the ways of man rather than the ways of God. Our lives and welfare do not ultimately depend on a human election. President Obama cannot save us (he also cannot destroy us). Mitt Romney would not have been able to save us either. And for those of you familiar with my political leanings, even Dr. Ron Paul would not have been able to save us. They are just men. They are tiny details in God’s vast plan for humanity. And they are tools that God uses. Yes, God uses our president, no matter who he (or someday she) is.

Understand me: you can hate every single thing President Obama does. But you cannot hate him. Check your heart. Barack Obama is a fellow human being, our brother, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). We are told in no uncertain terms:

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15

You may feel that Obama is not your brother, he is the enemy. He tramples religious liberties, defends the killing of unborn children and promotes immorality in our nation. If this is your view, consider Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 5:43-46:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of  your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”

You may say that Obama doesn’t deserve to be president and doesn’t deserve our respect. But like it or not, he won the election. In this country, that’s what makes you deserve to be president. Also, dear Christians, what if God gave us each what we deserved? We were weak, ungodly, enemies of God deserving his wrath when Christ died for us (Romans 5). Instead of the judgment and death we deserved, we were given grace, love and salvation. Keep this in the forefront of your mind when you go to judge what someone else deserves.

Besides that, God commands us to respect and obey those in authority. President Obama is in authority over us, and the Bible says that his power comes from God:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” Romans 13:1-7.

Does that mean the Obama administration was instituted by God? Yes it does. No matter how evil you may feel the administration is. The quote above was written to early Christians living under the rule of the Roman empire. Cesar gave himself the title Lord, enraging the Jews. The Roman empire outlawed Christianity and martyred believers with zeal and brutality. Paul knew with what fear and consternation his readers would receive the message that “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Even when a government acts in direct opposition to God’s will, God is able to use that government as his tool. He’s resourceful like that. Let’s trust Him.

Trust is what it all comes down to. The president is not ultimately in control of our destiny. This means our lives are not over if the person you support lost the election. Psalm 146:1-4 says,

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes (or presidents, or congressmen, or judges, or legislation), in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”

Are you praising the Lord today with your thoughts and your words and your Facebook statuses? It is good to strive to improve our nation. It is important that we stand up for our beliefs and pressure our officials to make moral decisions. It is useful to our progress as a nation that we never settle for less than ideal circumstances. But we need to do those things in a state of praise and gratitude. Our economy might still be sluggish and our unemployment rate too high. But we are still so blessed. Realize that we have brothers and sisters around the world who are in constant fear for their lives from war, famine, unclean water, disease, rampant crime, and bloody persecution. Remember that when you complain about how “bad” things are, you are not only grumbling against the government, you are grumbling against the God who has given you everything you have.

Be discontent insofar as it motivates you to personally work for change in our country and in our world. But temper your discontentment with profound gratitude for the incredible blessings we enjoy. Even if every tangible comfort were stripped away, we would still have reason to praise the Lord. Everything we have is meant to be used as a tool to bring others to salvation. Our eternal salvation is far, far greater than anything temporal. Rejoice, for you are loved by your Savior. And for Christ’s sake, love your neighbors, democrats, republicans, libertarians, independents, socialists, fascists, anarchists and indifferents.

“So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

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About Nicole

Daughter of God, wife, mother, volunteer youth leader, substitute teacher, aspiring writer, rabbit owner, nature lover. These are some of my titles.
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14 Responses to A post-election pep talk for my unhappy Christian friends

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you. You found words that I could not find the clarity to express.

  2. I completely agree with you! This morning, my friend Bill Bennot posted my very favorite “political” facebook post. He said: Regardless of what party occupies the White House, He who occupies my heart is what makes me party:-)
    I just love that! 🙂

  3. Jacob says:

    I agee. In what regard would Paul or you hold our forefathers who broke away from their King to better their lives and the families lives?

  4. linda says:

    Wonderful post….beautifully put. LOVE is the answer. God is Love.

  5. BB says:

    Wow! 2nd paragraph is quite “over dramatic” in and of itself !
    Very well said, Scripture in context and all, but maybe since we were electing a President, NOT a Church Leader, the “Christian” (& Bible verses) could be left out and the title could be: “A post-election pep talk for HALF of our Great Nation.” -only a thought…..

  6. Anonymous says:

    thank you..i needed too be told this.it is so very true.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Love it! We must always keep in kind who the real Savior is!

  8. Nicole says:

    Thank you for all the kind feedback! I know I often need to be reminded of these things myself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the emotion of a particular event and forget for a moment whose we are.

    Jacob, a very difficult question indeed. I must say I am extremely grateful that I’ve never been in the position to decide whether or not to go to war. I imagine it must be necessary (justified) in some instances, but how do we determine those instances from a Christian perspective? It seems much easier to justify defensive war. The American Revolution was an offensive attack on our government fought against our fellow citizens. But perhaps the relationship between government and citizens is contractual, meaning both sides have to uphold their duty. Our duty is to respect and obey our government and its duty is to defend us and punish bad behavior through the administration of justice. If a government breaks its contract with us, does that mean we are no longer obligated to obey it? I don’t know. It certainly wouldn’t seem like the Roman government was upholding any obligations to its Christian citizens, yet they obeyed rather than rebelling, even to death. Perhaps a major difference is that the Christians of Paul’s time lived as if the end of the world could be days away. They could bear all injustices against them because they were urgently and exclusively focused on spreading the message before Christ’s impending return. We’ve long since given up eagerly anticipating the second coming. We are easily distracted from our Christian purpose by worldly things because we feel we have all the time in the world. I wonder what life would be like if we continued to believe Jesus, who told us to be ready and expect him to show up unexpectedly at any moment. Perhaps we wouldn’t get so worked up about things like taxes. I’d love to hear your and others’ opinions on this. My ideas are far from fully formed.

  9. Clairebhiscott@hotmail.com says:

    Are you seriously saying that we should accept our leaders as they have God’s blessing?

  10. Nicole says:

    BB, thanks for your feedback. I certainly could have written the post from a secular perspective for all of Obama’s detractors. But while that message is important, it wasn’t my primary goal here. As Christians, every part of our existence and reality is filtered through and informed by our faith (or it should be). “Christian” is not just a categorical identifier that can be separated from other categories in our lives; it is our entire worldview and the framework within which everything else must fit. I know many Christians often don’t live that way. It’s easy to get sidetracked and drawn in by other worldviews and our own selfish motives. That’s why we need constant reminders to focus on Jesus and the Law and Gospel message. That, to me, is far more important than the outcome of any election, and is what I felt compelled to admonish my fellow believers about in the post.

    I know our culture feels that faith should be a private matter kept separate from public matters like politics. I agree that we don’t want a theocracy or the government getting involved in faith matters. But religious liberty means that Christian citizens (and followers of any other faith), must be allowed to incorporate their beliefs into every aspect of their lives, both private and public. It means that we can apply our faith outside our homes and churches, in our public discourse and in how we view and act on civic affairs. The guidance of the Bible informs us on every issue, whether the selection of a church leader or of the president of the United States. This doesn’t mean that we force our religion on others but that we are free to act on it completely, just as non-Christians are free to use any criteria they deem worthy to make their decisions.

    I hope that makes sense and I hope it doesn’t sound self-righteous or haughty. I’ll be the first to admit that I often fail to act in accord with God’s will, but it is the ultimate goal of every Christian to do so. We mess it up, but we keep on trying.

  11. Nicole says:

    Claire, yes I am. Because that’s what God says in the Bible and he is the authority I answer to. However, there’s room for a lot of nuance in how you interpret the word “accept.” America is a participatory democracy so we have numerous avenues of opposing politicians and policies without disobeying the government. We can and should use such means as voting, petitioning, calling politicians, legally protesting, explaining and promoting our views, etc, to change the things that we do not like about our current political situation. None of those things disobey the authority of our government. As I noted in my post, we can hate and oppose policies that go against God’s will. God blesses the government, but that doesn’t mean he blesses or approves of everything they do. We have a responsibility to keep them in line, but we must do so while acknowledging their rightful authority. Only in cases where the government directly orders us to sin (which certainly does happen) should we directly defy them. But in those cases, we should take Martin Luther King Jr.’s approach. First, we attempt to change things through every reasonable legal means. When that fails, we engage in civil disobedience with moderation and only to the extent that it’s necessary. Third, we peacefully accept consequences such as imprisonment, knowing that we are in the right yet still submitting to government authority. This method is modeled by the early Christians and as they and MLK demonstrated, it is powerful. (See MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”)

    “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:13-17.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Nicole. Thank you!!!

  13. pete smith says:

    Um, pretty sure that the american revolution RESULTED in an american government. Since the ‘colonies’ were british subjects there could be no ‘offensive’ action against an ‘american nation’. They declared an independant nation, therefore they WERE ‘traitors’ to the crown. They did not ‘do as they were told’.

    I certainly haven’t seen Obama do anything ‘anti christian’, and as a christian I’d be far more horrified by the basic trashing of fairness that resulted in George Bush being elected when we now know on pretty good authority that Al Gore actually got more votes (I don’t think either of those men could ‘save’ anybody either).

    And finally, the United States is NOT a participatory democracy it is a republic. When was the last time you voted in a national referendum? Ever? Fact is, when it comes down to it, Jesus really had very little to say about politics because he wasn’t interested in it. He certainly had no interest in overthrowing any government and even asked whose face was on the money-so give it back to them (which seems pretty insane to us today). I don’t see too many people giving ALL their money to the government just because a presidents picture is on it.

  14. FoolsGold says:

    As one Chaplain at Pearl Harbor broadcast over the ship’s Public Address system: Praise the Lord… and pass the ammunition! I’ve never thought of politics at the federal level as having much meaning or significance. I think it better we devote ourselves to the tasks immediately at hand. Praise the Lord? I’ve feral cats to feed and that constitutes more Praise of the Lord than any acceptance or rejection of President Obama. Libertarians? I’d love to see a viable presidential candidate who was a Libertarian.

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