However, by the time these words hit your ears, the 2020 election will be over. There’s a chance they might still be counting, but the votes will have been cast. And to be honest, I’m not quite sure how you’re feeling as you listen in today.
You might be feeling relief, full of joy, security, hope.
Or you might feel let down, full of disappointment and maybe even dread.
I suppose it depends on how you voted and if that is reflected in the official results.
The truth is, we tend to put so much attention and emphasis and weight on an election, so that when it’s over we aren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves anymore. Now, election results do affect actual people with actual lives, so I’m not saying it isn’t something we should care about, take seriously, or participate in. Your vote matters. Political engagement is a tool that allows us to live into the call to love our neighbor (Matthew 22; Galatians 5) and to pursue the well-being of our cities (Jeremiah 29). But your vote is one part of a larger whole.
At the end of the day, and at the end of an election season, we need to take a step back and remember who we are. Who we were before the election and who we will be now that it’s over. And first and foremost, before any political affiliation or ideology, we are followers of Jesus Christ. The call of that affiliation has not changed.
In Romans 12:9-21, we are reminded of who we are and to what we’re called. No matter who is in power. In this passage, we read,
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The call to overcome evil with good has not changed. The call to Christlike, sacrificial love does not waver.
We talk a lot about the power of the people during an election season. We have the opportunity to, together, select the leaders we want representing us on local, state, and national levels. But the power of the people doesn’t only lie in our vote. We exercise the power of the people each and every day through the way we live our actual lives. And as God’s people, the power we hold isn’t actually ours anyway. We are empowered by God’s grace and equipped by the Holy Spirit to be the very people God calls us to be, to live the very lives God calls us to live. We depend on a power much greater than any collective power we think we might have. We partner with God to reflect God’s Kingdom right here, right now. Yes, our vote is most definitely a part of that, but the life you live today matters, just like it mattered two weeks ago, just like it will continue to matter two years from now. So what do we do once the election is over? We continue to do our part as faithfully as we know how.
This past Sunday, though masked and physically-distanced, I attended in-person corporate worship for the first time in eight months. There were lots of wonderful things about being back, but what struck me the most was the time spent affirming together what we believe. Behind our masks, on the Sunday before election day, we said in unison,
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell; The third day, he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”
Now we recite that nearly every week. I’ve been saying the Apostles Creed since before I can remember. But what struck me so powerfully was that, as I was saying it, I was able to look around the room and see people who I probably disagree with on several things, people I’m 99% sure voted differently than I did, professing the very same thing I profess. At the same time.
I don't share this to excuse things that I believe are antithetical to the gospel of Jesus. It’s not okay by any means, but it’s also important for me to remember that there are times when I’m wrong, too. Because ultimately, any human structure or government set-up is going to be imperfect. But in that moment, I remembered just how big and transformative the faith I profess is. That my faith is bigger than my politics. That yes, my faith should and certainly does inform my politics and the ways in which I participate. But the firm foundation I’m standing on is stronger than a candidate or policy, whether I agree or disagree. My faith is in the perfect love and sacrifice of Jesus.
And it’s that faith in Jesus Christ that reminds us to not lose heart and to not lose hope.
It’s that faith in Jesus that inspires us to love our neighbor, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
It’s faith in Jesus that enables us to pray for our enemies and to try to see them the way God does.
It’s faith in Jesus that equips us to live and to love the way Romans 12 calls us to.
It’s through our faith in Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that evil will be overcome by good.
And that - that faith - is what we’re standing on.
So today, when this election is all said and done, whether it went the way we hoped or not, we keep going. We keep working and building, partnering with God in God’s Kingdom work. We keep loving God and loving neighbor as best we know how. But most importantly, today, we remember who we are.