Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Life goes on (post-election thoughts)

Clearly, I turned out to be a poor political prognosticator. I'm as surprised as most people are this morning.

But a few points to ponder...

(1) Our leaders need our prayers. We need to ask God to give them wisdom and the openness to God's wisdom. I pray for all presidents, irrespective of party; this one will be no exception. In the first century, the apostle Paul wrote to the young pastor, Timothy: "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior..." (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

(2) If you voted for Mr. Trump, he isn't the grand elixir for issues confronting America. If you voted for Secretary Clinton, the world hasn't ended because of her defeat. I love the wisdom of Psalm 118:8-9: "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes."

To put our faith in human beings is idolatry, a violation of the first of God's Ten Commandments.

Much of our political rhetoric, particularly in this election season, can be apoclayptic, rooted in the false notion that presidents are deities who can wave a wand (or wield a pen) and "make all our dreams come true." Not only does this misunderstand our Constitution, it overestimates the capacity of human beings to accomplish anything worthwhile. Presidents, defeated candidates, and voters of all stripes should daily remember the words of Jesus: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

(3) This, in fact, is a great time for all Americans to acknowledge our own sins and our need of God's saving grace. The call God issued to the persecuted and shunned Church of first century Asia Minor through Saint Peter seem particularly appropriate for all of us on November 9, 2016: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." God can handle your anxieties and He can handle the anxieties of the nation. He can swallow them all up in His amazing grace.

God told His ancient people Israel: "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

The healing of our land--and the healing of our own souls, the destruction of separation from God into which you and I are born and from which condition we fail to love God or love our neighbor--is available to all.

As Jesus says famously: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son" (John 3:16-18).

(4) There was a lot of speculation before yesterday as to whether Donald Trump would accept the results of the election. This was all predicated on the notion that Hillary Clinton would win.

But of far more concern to me over these past few weeks was whether, whoever won the election, ordinary voters would accept the results. Would Trump voters accept a loss? Would Clinton voters accept a loss? Would Trump or Clinton voters accept wins?

However we all voted in this election, we need to be gracious. We need to avoid hatefulness and embrace mutual respect. We've just come through a grueling and not especially satisfying eighteen month mudfest. It's time for us to live our lives. The best thing we can do now is obey God's command to love God and to love neighbor.

And if that's more than we can muster--as it always is, when we're honest, then we need to turn to God and ask in Jesus' name for the power of the Holy Spirit, to help us live not like political idolaters, but as human beings made in the image of God, saved from our sins, from death, and from darkness by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

That's the whole ballgame.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]


Charlie said...

Hold your head up, Mark. Your map was closer than Nate Silver's. :) Good comments, and I agree that we especially need to call the church to pray for our nation and for Mr Trump as we enter an uncertain future.

Mark Daniels said...

Prayer is what it always comes down to in the end, isn't it? Thanks for your comments. God bless you, Charlie. I hope that our paths cross again sometime.