Nov. 9, 2016
With over 590 days passed since Ted Cruz became the first person to announce his candidacy for president, this election cycle is finally over. Many news articles, headlines, and Facebook posts in the months leading up to the election revealed the deep disunity within our nation and the discouragement that was felt by many voters. Regardless of whatever our first reaction may be to the outcome of November 8th, we must go into the day after the election with a proper foundation.
Where do we find our hope? Our hope is ultimately found in Jesus Christ, and to place our faith in anything else is to stand on an unstable foundation. Scripture reminds us over and over again of the sovereignty of God. Daniel 2:21 says, “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” From this verse, we can know that whoever is president was established by God. It is in this high view of God that we should root ourselves. Furthermore, the peace and security that the Gospel provides us should be treasured in our hearts and at the forefront of our minds on a daily basis. Admittedly, this is all easier said than done and is something that we must remind ourselves of constantly. Our default position should be to fix our eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of faith,” as Hebrews 12:2 says.
Of course, this biblical bedrock does not exempt us from our civic duty as citizens. God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are two parallel truths. Our theology will not excuse us from our responsibility of being involved in the affairs of our nation, but should actually do the opposite. Our faith should inform our outlook on every sphere of life. We must always be cognizant of God’s sovereignty while at the same time being obedient by engaging the culture for Christ. We are to be in the world but not of it.
So how do we move forward after November 8th? The bottom line is that Christians must seek to influence and shape culture from the various vocations to which God has called us.
The doctrine of vocation simply recognizes that, “God has chosen to work through human beings, who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve each other,” as Gene Edward Veith Jr. writes in his book God at Work. In a later chapter, Veith writes that, “Our vocation is not something we choose for ourselves. It is something to which we are called.” Consequently, every Christian is critical to the future of our nation because we each have unique talents and abilities that were given to us by God.
Moreover, in a democratic republic that is of the people, by the people, and for the people, we must remember that government is a reflection of the culture. As Henry Adams wrote in his book Democracy, “No representative government can long be much better or much worse than the society it represents.” In light of that, as believers, we must seek to wholeheartedly engage culture in and from whatever vocation God has called us to. Martin Luther King Jr. said it well: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” We must all strive to daily live out our vocations in life with excellence unto the glory of God.
The manner in which Christians should engage culture is a topic that the church has debated for centuries. Thankfully, there have been examples of Christian engagement in culture that we can look to for guidance on how to transform the situation we find ourselves in today.
In A letter to Diognetus, the writer describes Christians living during the 2nd century: “They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country.” This particular description of Christians who lived over 1,800 years ago displays the sweet paradox of the Christian life. Can what was said of Christians in the 2nd century be said of us today?
A little further along the timeline of history we come across the life of an individual who epitomizes Christian engagement in the culture—William Wilberforce. Perhaps best known for being the leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade in England, Wilberforce also made some insightful statements regarding Christians living out their faith in the public sphere:
- “Surely the principles of Christianity lead to action as well as meditation.”
- “I would suggest that faith is everyone’s business. The advance or decline of faith is so intimately connected to the welfare of a society that it should be of particular interest to a politician.”
- “My walk is a public one. My business is in the world, and I must mix in the assemblies of men or quit the post which Providence seems to have assigned me.”
In conclusion, we must remember that on this day there are winners and there are losers. In the races that we won, we need to acknowledge victory with compassion. In the races that we lost, we need to accept defeat graciously. We must enter November 9th with the firm resolve that God is sovereign and He has given each of us a role to play in continuing the fight for faith, family, and freedom.