This week is election day. It seems to me that our society is more fractured and conflicted than at any time in my lifetime. I was born in 1960 and, while I don’t really remember “the 60s” in real-time, I do know that the 60s were tumultuous. I’ve gone back and studied it—war, race relations (civil rights contention, racial inequality, the end of Jim Crow laws after 100 years), one president assassinated (JFK), a presidential candidate shot and killed (RFK), and prominent civil rights leaders (MLK, Jr. and others) gunned down, poverty, riots on campuses, and more.

Even with all of that chaos and conflict of that era, it seems to me as if the present is even more strained.

Maybe you’ve already considered this, but in some ways what we are experiencing right now is a confluence in ONE YEAR of what we have experienced over the past 100 YEARS, specifically:

  • 1918-1920 — The Spanish Flu Pandemic
  • 1929 — The Market Crash/Financial Crisis & Great Depression
  • 1960’s — Race Riots & Civil Unrest

We are experiencing all of this (and MORE) in this ONE year — a pandemic, resulting financial hardship for many, and race-relations turmoil. No wonder things are unhinged and extremely challenging. And then add in the incredible political tension we are experiencing right now (it is always strained but more now than I can remember in my lifetime, as I stated earlier), and it is easy to see why so many people are stressed, concerned, worried, and fearful.

For many people, this election will determine their relative happiness and hope in the future. If their candidate wins, all is well. If their candidate loses, all is lost. And not just who wins the White House but all the other many races as well. So much is riding on this election season for a large segment of our population and it is easy to understand why that is the case.

In our church alone there are really good people who believe very differently than one another. Some groups value one issue over another, while other groups value different issues as their primary priority. There are even third or fourth groups that value other issues as most important to them. All Christians and all groups are deeply divided one from another. As a result, people don’t befriend each other like they used to, they defriend instead. Families are split apart, good friends are turning their backs on each other, and fellow Christians cease to relate to each other in love and compassion. It is a sad time. A troubling era. A difficult season.

But as your pastor and friend, I want to offer you a few words of encouragement and challenge all of us to pray for our country. These are principles that guide me. I encourage you to consider having them guide you, too.

  • VOTE. It is our collective responsibility. Please do so thoughtfully and prayerfully.
  • FOCUS. Whether your candidates win or lose, remember that Jesus is King. (I often think of the early Christians in the First Church under Roman rule. Life was hard but their focus was on the Resurrected Christ, the Lord God Almighty.)
  • WORK. Remember, you are an ambassador of Christ. You are not of this world. You are a Christ-servant, and your job is to build His Kingdom — regardless of who wins the White House, the Governor’s Mansion, Senate seats and other offices. Jesus said in John 9, “I must work the works of Him.” We must commit ourselves to be about the Father’s business and work hard to build His Kingdom.
  • HOPE. Jesus is the hope of the world. You and I must determine more than ever before to know Christ and make Christ known. Keep the main thing the main thing. There is a lot we cannot control in this life but we can always choose where to place our hope. Our Hope is in Jesus. Candidates come and go. Parties come and go. Nations even come and go. But Jesus and His Kingdom will last forever. Our hope is in Him.
  • LOVE. Jesus says, “They will know you are My disciples by your love.” Ask God to help you not only love people that are easy to love, but difficult to love as well, and to love those who vote differently than you. Right now that may be the most difficult thing for many Christians. I’m not saying this is always easy, but it is always true. God wants us to love others and show His love to others. Read, memorize and live out John 13:34,35.
  • GRACE. We need to have EXTRA GRACE during this season for others. I can tell when people have extra grace and when they do not. Jesus prayed for those who crucified Him on the Cross… “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” In it all, guard your testimony. Don’t throw your testimony as a follower of Jesus down the garbage disposal over which party or candidate is best according to you. After the elections have come and gone, what will “outsiders think of you.” Will they be able to say, “We don’t vote the same but those folks are the real deal?” “They love their Jesus and that love is magnetic and contagious, and I am drawn to them and to their Jesus.” Or will we push them away from Jesus because of our sour and mean spirit? You decide for you. And I will decide for me. But please, all of us, BCA nation, think about it and pray about it. Paul’s message is powerful to me. Colossians 4:5,6: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Remember, we are not called to be a club of Christians, but to be God’s Church who loves and cares for people, and walks people who are far from God into relationship with His Son Jesus. So, let’s be wise, careful, and let’s encourage each other in this way.
  • PRAY. In addition to the prayers you are praying, may I encourage you to also pray this way: 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Notice our part is to humble ourselves, pray, seek Him, and turn from evil. If we do this, then God will hear, forgive and heal — notice it is conditional. This if/then statement challenges me deeply and guides my praying.
  • TRUST. Regardless of who wins and who loses, lean on and lean into God and Scripture. The Bible encourages us to place our trust squarely in Him. Notices these verses:
    • Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.”
    • Psalm 62:8 “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
    • Psalm 20:7 ”Some trust in chariots and some in horses; but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
    • Isaiah 26:4 “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”

I am praying for you and I am praying for America. And I am praying for a world that desperately needs the Lord.