You fulfilled your duty and cast your vote. You stayed up late watching the polls close. You spent the evening staring at the news …
You fulfilled your duty and cast your vote. You stayed up late watching the polls close. You spent the evening staring at the news—eyes glazed—waiting to see who would be the new leader of the most powerful country in the free world. And now, the waiting is done. The presidential election is over and you’re left with one lingering question … now what?
This election has Christians split on both sides and the way you deal with your brother or sister in Christ on the other party line is important, not to mention the fact that the world is watching to see how the church will react. In some respects, the way you conduct yourself is even more important than where you fall on the issues. And, as ministry leaders we have an even greater responsibility to model the attitude of Christ in times like these.
So, here is a field guide for handling life in post-election America, whether you voted for McCain or Obama.
If you voted for McCain:
Pray for your new leader-elect. This is biblical. And, even though you prayed for McCain and backed up your prayer by your vote, this is a testament to the fact that God doesn’t always work the way you want Him to. You may be concerned about the issues that mean the most to you but the fact that God appointed Obama as the leader of our nation does not mean that you care about those issues more than God does. Trust God in this.
Now is your chance to vote your values by the way that you live–by the way that you love your neighbor and live out your views on life, justice and peace. The world is watching. Many leaders will have the desire to dole out knee-jerk responses that are both uncivil and, in some cases, stupid. Be careful not to demonize those on the other side and, instead, embody the love and compassion of Jesus in the way that you react.
Finally, find ways to partner with our new leader to give voice to the agenda of Jesus in the American society. Use your creativity and energy to be constructive and keep the focus on the issues of faith you feel are important. Don’t let the election results halt your engagement and your passion for the issues we need to reform.
If you voted for Obama:
Continue to pray for change in America. Not just change in the economy or healthcare, but change that will position our country for a greater openness to the Gospel. Change that will aid in the care of the oppressed. Change that will guide us to a greater understanding of the compassion of Christ.
You voted for Barack Obama because you felt his stance on issues would be best for the American people. Now is the time to back that up with more than just a vote. Through prayer, action and humility, it’s time to engage the world with a tangible message of biblical hope, a hope that isn’t driven by greed or pride but sacrifice and kindness in the ways of Christ. Find practical ways to live this out in your community with real people.
Please resist the urge to separate from Christians on the opposite side of the issues, instead, pursue unity—both in the church and the greater community. Also, be prepared to articulate your views to other believers in a way that promotes dialogue.
It would be wise to go back to the words of Rick Warren at the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency. Warren said, “We have to learn how to have civility in our civilization, how to stop being rude, how to stop demonizing each other, and how to have a discussion and debate.” This simple statement, used as a bookend for the forum, is at the heart of the divide for many ministry leaders.
As we wrestle with the issues, as a young faith-centered voting bloc, our challenge will continue to involve a fight to display humility and grace in the midst of clashing worldviews. We have to be careful not to fall into the same ruse of demonizing and polarizing for the sake of being right.
We need to profess what we believe, we need to vote our conscience and we have the freedom to passionately oppose contrary viewpoints, but to do this without being tempered in humility is unchristian. This simple principle has eluded many politically-charged churches—and leaders—for years.
And in case we forget, this movement we’re a part of is not a political party but a Kingdom, one that calls us to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us–one that calls us to live out His ways in our society everyday, not just when the polls are open.
So, no matter which side you voted for, the winning or the losing, let’s pursue the agenda of Jesus together.