Today is Election Day. And I’m aware of all the rhetoric. I don’t mean campaign rhetoric about for whom to vote. I mean the rhetoric of getting out to vote. It’s your duty, you can’t complain if you don’t vote (that’s my favorite), don’t take it for granted, don’t let someone else pick for you. That’s all fine. You should vote and I hope you have.
But there’s a hard reality about our electoral system: no matter the outcome, most people will be disappointed.
(The video is really good, you should watch it, if for no other reason than because Turtle is clearly the best choice.) The simple math is that the majority of people will not choose the winner. This is because we have more than two candidates, because many people choose not to vote, and because the primary system eliminated many first choices. So, all in all, most of us will not be happy with the result. Keep in mind that I’m writing this at 10am on Nov. 8, 2016, so I have no clue who will actually win the election.
But someone will and most of us would like to have chosen someone else. Since last year, people have threatened to move out of the country if ____________ wins. As a matter of fact, one cheeky Canadian island has offered itself to be the home of such refugees. On the more terrifying side, some are talking of violent insurrection. I make a habit of listening to talk radio wherever I happen to be, and I actually listened to several callers threaten such on public airwaves. And I’ve heard Christians (of varied political persuasions) warn that this election will define whether or not we are still a Christian nation. I’m more than a little concerned about our reactions to this election.
Let me offer some brief perspective. Back in the early days of the new Christian movement, there were governors and even emperors who persecuted the Christian factions. Some were abused and even killed. The martyrs, who paid for their faith with their lives, did not stop being Christian; and the Church carried on. In the fourth century, Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire (the same empire that had persecuted them, off and on, for hundreds of years). Things certainly changed and a few groups actually fled from civilization because they worried the faith would be compromised under a favorable empire; and the Church carried on. The Church in the West became the center of the cultures and kingmaker to all the royals of Europe, answering to no one but themselves, and enjoying pomp and wealth the likes of which haven’t been seen since; and the Church carried on. The Protestant Reformation was sparked by several things, but not least of which the availability of information and the breakdown of State-sanctioned religion. The Church splintered, fought, ripped and limped; and the Church carried on.
In modern times, the Church (by which I mean the Church Universal) has functioned under Whigs, Republicans, Democrats, war, unrest, riot, and prosperity. No matter who is in the White House or the Capitol or in the Mayor’s Office, the Church will carry on. And that’s not to say it doesn’t matter who gets elected. Of course it matters. But in the days and months to come, our country will need the Church. People will be hungry and our church, with many others, will feed them. People will be scared and will feel unsafe, and the churches will provide safety and shelter. People will despair and we will give hope.
I voted and made my decision. I care about who’s elected. I have political opinions like anyone else. But no matter how it turns out, I will have to put my personal feelings aside and be ready because people will need the Church.
Have faith – faith that no matter the machinations of human empires, there are powers greater than these.
Have hope – hope that no matter the outcomes of elections, God is working toward more than a political outcome.
Have love – love for your fellow human being despite politics, creed, or opinion. With love, we might prevail, because God is Love and the Church will carry on.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13