As I write this sentence, my computer tells me that it’s 8:44am on Wednesday, November 2, 2016. There’s nothing particularly magical about that time or that date (that I know of). But what is significant about it is that in exactly one week from right now, the United States will likely have a new president-elect. After a late night of ballot-counting and exhaustive news coverage, we’ll finally know which states went blue, which states went red, and who will be occupying the White House as our next Commander in Chief.
By this time next week, some of you will have voted for Donald Trump. Hearing his pledge to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices and his commitment to growing the American economy and his conservative position on social issues, you’ve become convinced that there’s no other option. He is our nation’s best chance of moving in a positive direction over the course of the next four years. You understand that he has some character flaws and a volatile personality, but it’s a gamble you feel you must make.
Others of you will have voted for Hillary Clinton. In looking at her commitment to education, her attention to national poverty, or her compassionate stance toward sojourners and refugees, you see a candidate who aligns with your convictions about social justice. Sure, there are a few things you don’t agree with. But given the options, the choice is clear. She is the only candidate with the political experience and the presidential disposition that is required to lead this nation.
There will also be some of you who will have voted for a third-party candidate. You’ve seen the televised debates, you’ve read the interviews, you’ve researched the positions, and in good conscience you can’t vote for either the Republican or the Democratic candidate. Whether it’s because of alarming questions about their integrity or deep disagreement about where they stand on the issues, you simply can’t cast a vote for either one. Some tell you that you’re wasting your vote, but you believe a convictional stance is never wasted, regardless of how unpopular it is.
And then there may well be some who will have stayed home on election day. You’ll intentionally avoid the voting booth, not because you’re apathetic or lazy, but because you believe your civic responsibility can best be exercised through protest. By telling the political establishment that you’re tired of seeing less-than-desirable candidates on the ballot, you hope to see change brought to the political process as a whole, thus benefiting the country in the long term.
One way or another, by this time next week you will have exercised your right to vote. And you likely will have done so differently than someone in your care group, differently than someone in the pew next to you on Sunday, and differently than someone teaching your kids on Wednesday night.
How do you feel about that?
People joke all the time about churches splitting over the color of the carpet. And I’m sure this sort of thing has happened. But the much more pressing danger seems to be churches fracturing over more deeply-held (and fiercely-defended) convictions. Like political beliefs. And voting practices.
We should recognize that in the wake of a contentious election, the church is vulnerable. Division is lurking. And unless we’re prepared for how we’ll interact with people who have voted differently than us (and feel differently about the outcome of the election than we do), we’ll be in big trouble.
So that’s why I’m inviting you to join us this Sunday evening at 6:00pm for our monthly Family Gathering. If you’ve fallen out of the habit of attending these monthly meetings, this is a great chance to plug back in. We’re going to spend some time praying for the upcoming election, and I’m looking forward to teaching on how we should think about this election in such a way as to preserve Christian unity in the wake of political disagreement. The goal is for this to be a practical, relevant, and unifying time.
Regardless of how you plan to vote, I hope you’ll join us as we learn together how to love our enemies—and those who vote for them.
UPDATE: The audio from this talk is now available. You can listen to it here.