I was watching the Clemson-Notre Dame game on Saturday night when a person appeared on our television screen. It was a middle-aged individual who had doctored their appearance to give the impression that they were an ordinary person like me even though they clearly were not. Within a matter of seconds, I realized that this could either be a politician or an actor, not that there is often a vast difference between the two. The individual opened their mouth and left no doubt: this was a campaign ad. This is election season.
This week, millions of common folks like you and I went to the polls to cast ballots for political positions and policies. In my youth, I never realized the high stakes of a mid-term election. However, the older I have gotten, the more I recognize the true shift that a single election cycle can produce for the average citizen. When that reality sinks in, it can provide a daunting sense of urgency to make my voice heard. If you are like me, the weeks leading up to Election Day involve a feverish review of people and policies, facts and frustrations. The old, foreboding mantra echoes in my mind: we are always one election away from losing freedom. However, the older I get, the harder I chew on a different perspective: what is the ultimate purpose of my political freedom?
As believers in Jesus Christ, election cycles should always cause us to carefully examine our ultimate allegiance and identity. We are, first and foremost, citizens of heaven who at best are sojourners and strangers passing through. However, we are also called to seek that which brings God glory and others good while we walk this world. So, how ought we to consider elections? How involved should we get? What sort of perspective should we share? What is the purpose of our political freedom?
Ultimately, the purpose of political freedom to any degree in any culture is to fulfill the Great Commission. By God’s grace, we are called to make disciples, followers and learners of Jesus, and to teach them to obey all that Jesus taught his disciples. After all, the gospel transcends cultural barriers and political party lines. Therefore, when we consider elections, there is no need for fear. Rather, there is a beautiful opportunity to trust the sovereignty of God. As believers in Jesus, we ought to prayerfully consider voting, as any other aspect of our lives, in such a way that would further the gospel of Jesus, leveraging our political privilege to push the agenda of Christ’s Kingdom.
As I consider the weight of this week, I remember the story of Daniel who lived under the Babylonian rule of Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians, or Chaldeans, were a ruthless people, well known for their calculated warfare and savage devastation of peoples and nations. Amid the cruelty of the Chaldeans, Daniel stood out as a faithful example of the wisdom and grace of the LORD. Nebuchadnezzar, having received a troubling dream from the LORD, extended an ultimatum to his sages and servants that he would execute them all if they could not interpret his dream. However, there was a catch: he would not tell them the contents of the dream. Daniel, as the LORD’s representative, prayed that the LORD would mercifully reveal the dream to him. The LORD obliged and revealed the dream’s meaning. This was Daniel’s prayer of response:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:20-22, NIV).
This week, friend, I pray that you might learn from the story of Daniel with me. Consider his confidence in the face of cruelty. Consider his wisdom in the face of woe. In the dream, as he saw the shifting sands of kings and kingdoms, and he was not swayed to worry but to worship. May we, like Daniel, turn to the LORD, by grace through faith in Jesus, and make decisions that further his glory and renown. May we remember, as Daniel did, that the throne of heaven is not on the ballot this year, that the Sovereign Incumbent, Jesus Christ, remains securely seated in absolute authority. May we turn to him in faith, trusting that all that he allows and accomplishes is for his glory and our good. And in all these things, may we seek to live lives of worship regardless of the outcome, trusting that he will work all things according to his wisdom. Nothing, from the White House to the farmhouse, is beyond his sovereign rule.