Hey Everybody –
Well, it’s finally over. There are a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head, as I’m sure there are with you too. I’ve tried to weed out all my emotions (which is hard to do!!) and give you my reaction to the outcome of the election. I’ll start with what I believe is the bad news, and then give you what I think is the good news.
First, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a doomsdayer. I have been and will continue to always be optimistic about everything, even irrationally so! However, it would be a little naïve to ignore the fact that the outcome of this election presents increasing challenges, especially in the area of religious liberty as our country lurches more to the left. This post from Ed Stetzer, a hero in our church planting circles, illustrates it well. However, here are several things that deeply concern me:
- The legalization of same-sex marriage. We know that President Obama supports same-sex marriage and with his reelection the path to further legalization of it becomes that much easier. Also, for the first time, several states approved legislation allowing same-sex marriage at the ballot box, not merely in the courtroom. At this rate it’s only a matter of time before other states will adopt similar laws, which will have all kinds of unforeseen consequences. One of them is in the area of clergy, you know, guys like me. Could I be sued for discrimination if I refuse to perform a same-sex wedding? What if I speak out against it on a Sunday morning in church? Will that be considered “hate speech” as it was accused of being so in Canada? After Tuesday, for the first time I can honestly see us going down that road, maybe not right away, but we’re getting closer.
What about our men and women in uniform? One high-ranking military chaplain I spoke with less than two weeks ago told me he and other chaplains are concerned they will soon be forced to perform same-sex weddings. If that happens, he says, then you can expect to see a great exodus of Christian chaplains from the military, as they will not violate their consciences. So elections have consequences.
- The implementation of the new health care law will present another set of challenges that have already hit both Christian and Catholic organizations. My alma mater, Biola University, is suing the federal government because the law will force them to provide abortion-inducing drugs. The Catholic Church is suing the federal governmentbecause they will be compelled to provide birth control, something they are theologically opposed to doing.
The point? Once again, we see the long arm of the federal government regulation infringing on religious liberties. This is an inarguable fact. What will that mean for churches? Could we be in a position where we are forced to pay for medical procedures and drugs that violate our convictions? We don’t know yet, because so much is unknown about this law. But, elections have consequences.
- New economic realities. While I’m not a CEO, I have sat at the helm of two non-profit organizations over the past ten years and have carried the burden of the bottom line. I say a little “thank you” to God (and sometimes breathe a sigh of relief!) at each payroll because I know our employees are able to make ends meet and build a life that is rewarding and fulfilling for themselves and their families. That is a beautiful thing.
The vast majority of business owners out there are trying to simply succeed and have enough to continue doing what they love. But when it’s all on your shoulders you learn pretty quickly that a dollar is a dollar, and the less of it you have the fewer people you can hire, the less you can advertise, and the less generous you’re able to be. Money doesn’t fall out of the sky, not even in churches! That’s why I’m concerned about reports of pretty significant tax hikes coming down the pike that I see will prevent businesses from expanding, and I fear many people will remain unemployed. My heart aches for you if you’re in that spot, and I would hope that these new economic realities do not continue to contribute to your hardship.
So that’s the doom and gloom part. Here’s the good part:
- Christians have an amazing opportunity to display the beauty of Jesus and living in the Kingdom. I don’t think anybody woke up yesterday on either side and said, “I want what’s WORSE for the country!” Most of us want justice, peace, and love. We just have different ideas of getting there.
Take the folks who voted to legalize pot. I don’t get that, but I bet those people said, “Well, I just want to get the peaceful feeling of the good weed without worrying about the cops.” Okay.
But our peace is better! Our peace is found in the Kingdom of God, where he rules over our anxieties, our conflicts, our anger, and our stress! The bottom line is, the Kingdom of God is more beautiful than pot!! And if they’re both going to be legal, then my job is to try to stay out of your second-hand smoke, but get near enough to show you a greater beauty!
This kind of thing is going to have to translate into every domain of life. The reason I keep using the word “beauty” is because that’s what the kingdom brings. Everything God touches, he makes beautiful. He restores and brings out the best in it. Sin, on the other hand, brings ugliness. Atheism celebrates nothingness. Secularism is bland and boring, because it has no message and can’t offend anyone. You take a Christmas display out of a government building, what do you replace it with? Nothing! You yank the Ten Commandments off the wall at a school, what do you replace them with? Nothing! It’s not the exchange of one type of beauty for another – it’s the exchange of beauty for nothing.
So here we are, in a culture that desperately needs to see real expressions of the beauty of the Kingdom. If you always wanted to know what it is like to be a missionary, well, congratulations… you are!
- The local church is the hope of the world! I went to bed Tuesday night so grateful that I’m a part of the Capital “C” Church. The thing is, politics can’t produce inner transformation – only Jesus can do that! And when inner transformation occurs, life by life, family by family, street by street, then the society lifts. I mean, who wouldn’t want to govern a people who do their work “unto the Lord,” who “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” and who “seek the peace and prosperity” of the land they are in? What politician has ever even thought of slashing a law enforcement budget because (sorry, my police friends) we just don’t need as many officers out there – there’s hardly any crime, because people are being ruled by Christ.
Listen, if you want to make a difference for the better (and I believe we all do, no matter what side we’re on) you should be so PUMPED you are a part of a church that really wants to help people become more like Jesus. What better vehicle could you be involved with for true cultural transformation?
- If there was ever a time to be a disciple, not merely a Christian, it is now! There is a difference. A Christian is anyone who identifies with the Christian faith, goes to church once in a while, and may even have a fish on their bumper. But a disciple is a follower, an apprentice, a student. They live in the shadow of God constantly. They are always asking themselves, “How would Jesus live my life if he were the one living it?”
This might be a great time for you to decide to stop merely identifying yourself as a Christian and truly begin to be radically committed to following Jesus. As the world gets darker, you will only shine brighter.
So for those who are disappointed, keep your chin up! I think our best days are ahead of us, I really do! Don’t forget to pray for our President, that God blesses him with wisdom and the ability to make the best decisions for our country. Don’t give up on our country, and now, more than ever, let’s love our city!!