Christian contentment in an election year  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , ,

I don’t remember—no, scratch that. I was going to say I don’t remember when I’ve received so many fear-full emails from Christians as in the past couple of weeks leading up to this year’s election. But I do remember the last time. There were two times, actually: they were in the months leading up to Y2K and in the weeks leading up to Bill Clinton’s election. Now, my memory might be faulty, but as I remember, in neither case did the dreaded scenarios come to pass. But once again, the emails have been burning through cyberspace, warning of all sorts of horrible outcomes if we vote incorrectly.


About which I have a few reflections.


Reflection #1. We are a highly politicized people. I agree that Christians needs to be responsible citizens—that is a part of faithfulness as we live under Christ’s Lordship. But we must not be politicized—by which I mean grant the religious importance to politics that is common in our secularized society. Voting is important, but God remains sovereign. Our calling remains unchanged, and our gospel remains the power of God regardless of who is in the White House.


Reflection #2. We should work faithfully for just policies and vote for good leaders, without for a moment allowing our hope to rest in either. Or, to put it another way: Christians should never be either pessimistic or optimistic about politics (or about anything else in a fallen world, for that matter). We should remain hopeful, instead, whether the policy we seek to enact succeeds or fails, and whether the one whom we believe is the best candidate wins or loses.


Reflection #3. Even if you think you have a gift of prophesy, be humble about predicting the future. And if you claim to have that gift remember that the biblical standard is that all prophets whose predictions were less that 100% accurate in every single tiny detail were to be stoned.


Reflection #4. Know that fear—like guilt and shame, other common motivators in the emails I’ve received—are not how Christians should seek to persuade one another concerning what faithfulness looks like. Remember, we live before a watching world. If we are fearful over an election—an election! for goodness sake—what does that witness to our confidence in the sovereignty and grace of our heavenly Father?


Reflection #5. Cultivate Christian contentment so that it infuses, shapes, and informs every aspect of your citizenship—and our emails on the topic. “Christian contentment,” Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) says, “is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” [The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment].


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Amen and amen.

Thank-you, Denis.

November 3, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Thank you. Most helpful thing I have read in weeks!

November 8, 2008 at 11:24 AM

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