Part 2 of series: A Christian Response to the 2008 Presidential Election
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In my last post I began discussing a Christian response to the presidential election. More accurately, I began repeating a discussion I posted four years ago. At that time, I wrote this series without knowing the results of the election itself. I was trying to articulate a Christian response to the election that wasn’t dependent on its results or on partisan affections. Here’s what I have so far:
Facet #1: We Should Act Upon the Call of Jesus to Peacemaking in the Way We Relate to Our Fellow Citizens.
In today’s post I’ll discuss the second and third facets of a Christian response to the presidential election.
Facet #2: We Need to Reaffirm Our Dual Citizenship.
Christians are to live in this world, but not of this world. Though we are citizens of a nation – and ought to exercise our citizenship faithfully – we find our true citizenship in heaven (Phil 3:20). Moreover, we are to exercise our citizenship in a way that is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:27). Thus, no matter how involved we may be in secular politics, we must always stand back and view earthly affairs from a divine perspective. And no matter how much we may support one candidate or the other, we must always remember that our primary allegiance is not to any human being, or to any political party, but to the one true God.
The fact that we are citizens of heaven should not mean we care less about human politics, however. In fact, the more we embrace our heavenly home, the more we realize that we have been “sent” by God into this world to make a difference for his kingdom. For those of us who live in a democratic nation, this surely entails living out our citizenship as an act of discipleship.
But, at the same time, as citizens of heaven we are not beholden to the narrowness of any nation or party or ideology. We have a perspective from which to critique, not only our political opponents, but also political allies and even ourselves. Moreover, we have a perspective from which to affirm our political opponents when they act in ways consistent with God’s kingdom.
Thus our dual citizenship doesn’t dilute our joy or our sorrow over the results of a presidential election. But it does allow us to see such things in a heavenly light. It allows us to see beyond raw partisanship. Moreover, it reminds us that there is only one true Savior of the World, and his name isn’t John or Barack, but Jesus.
Facet #3: We Need to Refocus Upon Our Fundamental Mission.
On the day before the election, we Christians had a mission in the world. We were sent by Jesus Christ to make disciples from all nations (Matt 28:19). We were called to be light in the world, so that as people see our good works they might give glory to God (Matt 5:14-16). As Christians, we have accepted God’s instruction through the Hebrew prophet Micah to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Mic 6:8). We joined Jesus in his mission of bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). As the church of Jesus Christ, we have accepted our calling to be a provisional demonstration of the truth of the gospel, not only to this world, but to all powers in the universe (Eph 3:1-13). On Monday, November 1st, 2004, and on Monday, November 3, 2008, this was our primary mission as believers in Jesus Christ. (Photo: Christ’s Great Commission window from the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in St. John’s, Newfoundland. This is the oldest Anglican Parish in Canada, having been founded in 1699 as a response to Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28.)
It’s still our primary mission today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, until Christ finishes the work of new creation. No election result will change this basic mission. Nor will a struggling economy or economic prosperity. Nor will a season of peace or the threat of terrorist attack. Nor will the enjoyment of political freedom or life under political oppression.
In saying this I’m not minimizing the importance of secular government and politics. Far from it. But I am aware that such matters, as significant as they may be on one level, can easily distract us from our primary calling as Christians. Given how much attention has been focused upon the presidential election in the last year – for better or for worse – it may be time for each of us to refocus our sights on what matters most in life. And it may also be an opportune time for our churches to do the same.
Added in 2008: In recent weeks, the troubled economy has often stolen the spotlight from the presidential election. The greatest concern of many Americans right now is not who will be the next President, but how and when the economy will be fixed. As much as I join those who are concerned about the recent economic downturn, I’m also aware that it can help us to realize what matters most in life. These things, like family and faith, cannot be purchased with money. They are both free and inestimably valuable. Moreover, when the world economy spins out of control, we realize once again that God, and God alone, is worthy of our full trust.
In my next post I’ll finish up this series by addressing elements 4 and 5 of a Christian response to the presidential election.