On Wednesday morning we woke up still uncertain about the results of the 2020 presidential election. We can be certain however that going forward, some are going to be disappointed with the results and others are going to be pleased. I don’t know which group you are in, but if you are a Christian then you must keep in mind that in a contentious and divided political atmosphere there are things to consider that are even weightier than politics.
I want to remind us of two realities that are always true and may be especially helpful to us today in orienting how followers of Christ ought to respond to our currently contentious context.
1) Christians prioritize God’s kingdom over human kingdoms. In the Lord’s prayer, we ask that God’s kingdom might come and that His will might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Christians have always lived in this world acknowledging with the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:20 that “our citizenship is in heaven.” How does this reality help orient our thinking as Christians? After the election some will experience relief, while others experience anxiety. Some may be fearful while others rejoice. But as Christians our response whether positive or negative must be tempered by the reality that our true hope is not found in politics but in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the advance of his kingdom. Christians don’t look to elected officials as the means of realizing our greatest hopes or our greatest fears. We must be more realistic than that. So Christian, if you are disappointed with the results, don’t despair. And if you are pleased, remember that it is not elections in which our hopes must ultimately rest.
2) Christians prioritize that which unites us over that which divides us. In a day when our society seems to value division and conflict over unity and cooperation, the New Testament’s call to value and preserve unity within the church has become all the more vital for Christians. Ephesians 3:10 tells us that God means to display his wisdom through the church as a people who share a fundamental unity with one another that supersedes all the secondary issues on which we may differ. Thus the New Testament picture of the church is a diverse body of individuals who in the midst of great diversity share in a deeper unity in the gospel. This means that Christians can disagree on politics while still affirming that there is far more that unites us than divides us. Practically, this means that Christians must make conscious decisions to value others above ourselves, and to look after the interests of one another and not just our own interests. Christian, we must watch our words when we speak of our brothers or sisters with whom we may disagree politically. Our fundamental unity in the gospel should transform the way we think and speak of our differences.
What will it take in today’s society in our political climate for people to move away from promoting division and conflict? It seems that we must rediscover those fundamental realities that unite us as a society. As Christians we should not only seek this as good citizens but we should also seek to exemplify this unity in the life of the church.
David Dewberry is pastor of United Baptist Church in Newport. Clergy Corner appears each week in The Daily News and online at newportri.com.