Accepting the Results of the Election by Bob Russell
Accepting the Results of the Election
A new survey from the American Psychological Association finds that the upcoming election is a significant source of stress for more than two-thirds of American Adults. That’s up from half during the 2016 presidential election. Not only are Americans fretful that their preferred candidate might not win, but about 7 in 10 are also worried about the risk of widespread violence breaking out across the country after the election results are announced.
One of the questions party leaders have been asked is, “Once the election is over will you accept the results?” President Donald Trump has basically responded that it depends on the legitimacy of the election. Hillary Clinton advised former Vice President Joe Biden not to concede if the outcome is not favorable. She urged him to keep fighting…to keep resisting. So the seeds for continued discord have been sown. It’s not likely the national divide will be healed or the hostility will end once the election is over.
What about those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ? What will be our response? Will we be wringing our hands and biting our nails as we watch election returns on Tuesday evening? Will we accept the results of the election as God’s will once it’s over? Will we be filled with despair and be antagonistic toward the next president if the results go contrary to our preference?
Sometime Tuesday morning, let’s all re-read Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Most Christians I know have earnestly prayed about the election and courageously spoken up for their convictions. We’ve done what we could. It’s now time for us to (in the words of an old hymn), “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.” Remember that wonderful promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Once the election has been decided, we Christians should meditate on
1 Peter 2:13-15. That passage reads, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good, you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”
Once the results are determined, followers of Jesus Christ should be submissive to those in authority, as long as we are not required to go contrary to Scripture. We shouldn’t pout, ridicule, undermine, pillage, or rebel against the elected politicians. That means we don’t join a resistance movement and try to make life miserable for our leaders. Simon Peter wrote the best way to silence ignorant talk is not to respond in kind but to have a humble, compliant spirit, even if that means wearing a mask riding a motorcycle!
Consider also Romans 13:1-2: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
I don’t believe that passage means God ordained Hitler to rule in Germany. It means God has established governmental authority to keep order, and those who are called to lead are ultimately accountable to Him. In the meantime, it’s God’s will for His people to be the best citizens they can be.
Years ago, English theologian Leslie Weatherhead suggested God’s will can be divided into three sections: His intended will, His permissive will, and His ultimate will. God created a perfect world and intended human beings to live in paradise. When Adam and Eve sinned, God permitted them to disobey and suffer the consequences. As a result, we live in a world full of suffering and sorrow. Someday God’s ultimate will is going to be restored, and we will once again be free of pain, sorrow, and death.
In the meantime, we live in the era of God’s permissive will. Much that happens grieves the heart of God. Sometimes He permits individual and national suffering as a direct result of our disobedience. We reap what we sow. Sometimes He uses suffering to discipline or strengthen us. (Paul’s thorn in the flesh was sent to keep him from being arrogant.) Sometimes we experience pain because of the sins of others. Sometimes we hurt, not because God causes it but because He permits it.
All this to say that if the election goes contrary to what we think is best, let’s accept it as God’s permissive will. Let’s be confident that in the end, all things will work together for good to those who love Him. Let’s prepare our minds for a righteous response of inner peace and a calm acceptance of God’s will. The Bible says we are to “honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). That means we show respect to whoever is in office and do our part to help restore order, unity, and prosperity to our country.
If the election goes the way you want it to go, give thanks to God for answering your prayer affirmatively. But don’t gloat or taunt those who disagree. Neither should you become complacent and assume that politicians are going to solve all our problems. Our hope is in the Lord and in His mighty power…not man.
Regardless of the outcome of the election, let the calm spirit of Christ be seen in you. God is sovereign. His ultimate will is going to be fulfilled. One day we will all lay our meager crowns at His feet, and every feeble knee will bow, and every faltering tongue will confess that He is Lord. Let’s act like we believe that and rejoice and be glad that “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24;1). Regardless of who is temporarily the President of the United States, God is still the God of the Universe.