Friday, November 11, 2016

My Thoughts On The Election

First of all, let's me answer the inevitable question, “Who did you vote for?” I don't need to tell you because it's my business, but I probably need to state that it wasn't for any candidate towing a party line; I voted write-in for the first time in my life. Yes, maybe I, “threw away my vote.” Obviously, my candidate didn't win. But I believed it was more important to vote for a candidate that stood for my values than it was to contribute to the “win” of the person that would become the next president of the United States.

With that being said, I feel compelled to write about my sorrow over this election cycle and its results. The words of the candidates and their supporters have been so filled with hate. The media is constantly producing some story to either inflate or deflate a candidate. Minorities, people of color, veterans, country people, town people, almost all people feel threatened in some way, shape, or form. There are protests and riots and flag-burnings. I think a great many people are reacting irrationally, out of fear, rather than out of clear, logical thinking. That's the normal “fight, flight, or freeze” biological reaction to stress. Regardless, our country is falling apart.

So what should we be doing? Specifically, what should people of faith, people who call themselves followers of Christ, be doing? As I read Psalm 109 this morning, I was struck by David's response to the attacks of his enemies (unnamed though they might be). “With words of hatred they surround me;” he writes. “They attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer” (vv. 3-4). Wait. What? “But I am a man of prayer.” Ouch. That convicts me. Have I really prayed about this election? Have I prayed for each candidate by name, asking that God save their souls above all else? No. I have to confess that I haven't, at least not faithfully. Instead, I've complained. I've ranted. I've avoided the news, tried to remain neutral, fussed about wanting the election to end. I've uttered a lot of unprofitable words, I must admit.
And have I prayed about the issues of the election? Have I talked to God about abortion, about LGBT rights, about white privilege, about immigration, about the refugee crisis? No, not really. Do I want my heart to be enlightened about these issues, and to care for the people whom they affect? (See Paul's prayer for enlightenment in Ephesians 1:18). No, not really. It hurts to think about the gaping needs in this world. It stings when the Spirit convicts me to take action, or to make decisions that other people don't understand. I didn't even tell my family that I voted write-in until after the election. I, too, often act or react out of fear.

As I read on in Psalm 109, I see David write about God, “They may curse, but You will bless.” As the world around me speaks words of vitriolic poison, am I speaking words of kindness? Am I reaching out to my many friends who feel threatened by the president-elect? “For He stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him,” David writes (v. 31). These people who feel marginalized aren't just any people. Many of them are “our people,” people of the church, to steal a summation from Mark Yarhouse's book. And even if these people aren't believers, they're certainly in need, and Scripture says that God cares! If God cares, I'm obligated to do the same.

A few Psalms before 109, David challenges his readers to, “Look to the Lord and His strength; [to] seek His face always” (Ps 105:4). In these confusing, painful, polarized times, that's what we as followers of Christ need to be doing. We need to be praying, to “pour out [our hearts] like water” (Lam 2:19) on behalf of ourselves, our neighbors, our countries, and our president elect. Then we need to take action, for “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). Yes, we might screw up. Yes, we might offend people. But we've got to do something.

As Spirit-filled people, we believe that we have access to a higher power. We state that we believe in redemption, that we believe in miracles. Our country needs both if we're ever going to be what our country's name entails: The United States of America. If we as Christ-followers really understand our identity, if we really believe what we say we do, the change our country needs had better start with our prayers and our actions.

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