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Election Day

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

By tonight we will know which presidential candidate will be leading our nation for the next four years.  Every presidential election is a pivotal moment in American history, and this one is no exception.  No matter who wins, we will be breaking new ground, either with America’s first black president or her first female vice president.  On top of that, America is facing multiple crises–a bad economy and a global war against terrorism to name two of them.

I have been talking to Christians about the election for several months now, and what I have learned has been surprising.  Not everybody is voting based on the candidates’ positions on abortion and homosexuality.  Many Christians, several of them young voters, feel that war, poverty, immigration, and discrimination are moral issues on an equal level with abortion and homosexuality.  In the past, Christians have voted Republican for the most part, but this year a number of Christians will be pulling the lever for Barack Obama.

I’m not shy about my opposition to Obama.  I have some serious ideological problems with him on a number of issues like abortion and homosexuality.  John McCain, on the other hand, is a staunch advocate for the unborn.  When that is included with his long years of service to our country, his courage in the face of grave challenges, and his proven leadership, he emerges as the better candidate in my opinion.

Not everybody agrees.  In fact, the polls say that most people disagree with me.  As a Christian, what should I do if my candidate does not win, and a new man moves into the Oval Office with extremely liberal positions on social and political issues?  Here are some suggestions:

1.  I should be thankful for the privilege of casting my vote. I’ve been shocked by the number of Christians who have told me, “Neither candidate impresses me, so I’m staying home.”  Many people have become disillusioned by politics and have taken their freedoms for granted.

I wonder what the people of Burma would say about that attitude.  Burma was a democracy until 1962, when a coup de etat turned the government into a military junta.  Any protests since then have been met with violent governmental force.  In September of 2007, hundreds of Buddhist monks staged a protest and were confronted by a vicious military crackdown that led to several deaths.  Internet access was cut off, and journalists were warned not to report on the protests.  The following month the military forced the people to march in a government rally.  Factories were told to produce at least 50 marchers for the rally or suffer a fine.

Voting is a privilege and a duty.  I may only have one voice, but at least I have that.  America is still an amazing place.  No other nation enjoys such radical and yet peaceful transfers of power.  This is possible because it is in the hands of the people.

2.  I should respect the President, whoever he may be.  Throughout the Bible, we find examples of God’s people submitting to cruel tyrants in leadership positions.  As Esther prepared to confront King Ahasuerus about Haman’s plot to kill the Jews, she was ready to accept whatever fate he decided: “If I perish, I perish” (Est. 4:16).  Nebuchadnezzar was a vilent, bloodthirsty ruler who was filled with pride and worshiped idols.  Yet before Daniel interpreted a dream to the king which foretold a certain disaster that would befall him, Daniel said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies” (Dan. 4:19).  Over and above all these examples, we see the picture of Jesus standing silent in the halls of Pilate.

Paul tells us to make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings “for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).  His reason for this is “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  Anarchy is good for nobody.  Peace and order are impossible without a civilized government in charge.

In another place, Paul urged submission to the government, calling it an institution appointed by God that bears the sword to punish evildoers and reward those who do good (Rom. 13:1-4).

Peter also gave this advice, telling his readers to “honor the emperor” (1 Pet. 2:13-17).  The emperor at this time was the insane demagogue Nero, who was especially notorious for his wickedness and his cruelty to Christians.  Nero would send Christians to fight the lions in the coliseum or use them for fuel to light his gardens.  Yet Peter said to honor him.  His reasoning is clear: “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”  When he wrote those words, many unfair rumors circulated around Rome about Christians.  Peter’s point was the Christians should not invite criticism but dispel it with their good behavior.

Of course, there is a biblical principle that says Christians must rebel when the government interferes with their religion and seeks to destroy their faith (Acts 5:29).  But we live in a country that allows us to do that while maintaining our respect for the highest office.

3.  I should know that politics will not change the world. Many Christians get worked up about an election and give into despair if their candidate does not win.  They needn’t worry.  Politics do not change the world.

The gospel is God’s power to change the world (Rom. 1:16).  Christians are the salt of the earth (Mt. 5:13), the light of the world (Mt. 5:14-16), and the leaven in the lump (Mt. 13:33).  The gospel is change we can believe in because it transforms people from the inside.

In the words of Charles Swindoll, “The believer was not put on earth to overthrow governments but to establish in the human heart a kingdom not of this world.”

It is not certain who will be our next president.  What is certain is that the next president will be someone that a lot of Americans did not vote for.  Christians will support, pray for, and respect him, whoever he is.