Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And now back to our regularly scheduled programing

Last night, we let the kids stay up a little later than normal watching election coverage. Alyson had printed out a map of the United States. The kids colored in the states red or blue as the newscasters called each state for one candidate or another. As they colored we talked about how elections work, the electoral college, and even the three different branches of government. The evening was a fun one for the kids who as grade-schoolers were in no way emotionally invested in the outcome. They thought the pageantry and the process were pretty neat. I tend to agree with them. Plus, the night was a good lesson in geography and government.

Remarkably, this morning we all got up and went about our daily business. The kids got ready for school. Alyson and I got ready for work. Life goes on. As Christians, our work goes on as well. As Scot McKnight put it in a wonderful post, whether your candidate won or lost doesn't "make one bit of a difference for our obligation to follow Jesus today. Not one bit." That got me thinking, "What are my obligations to Jesus today?" They are the same as yesterday. I'm to love God with everything I've got. I'm to love others as myself.

1) Love God. This is the greatest commandment. Who one's earthly leader is does absolutely nothing to diminish this commandment's importance in our lives.
  • To love God means to worship him. Whether your candidate won or lost yesterday, God is still on his throne. When we worship God as king we put the kingdoms of world on notice: their days are numbered. The Kingdom of God is on its way.
  • We love God when we learn to be content in his love alone. His love and presence in our lives really is all we need. Earthly leaders come and go. Kingdoms come and go. Economies go up and down, but God is our portion forever. This is why Paul says, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Phil 4:12-13). 
2) Love others. Voting is important, but it pales in comparison to actually loving people. Jesus said with his life and his words - you want to change the world? Love like I have loved.
  • Pray for people. Loving others starts with praying for them. Pray for their blessing and not for their demise. Pray for leaders. Pray for neighbors. Pray for that "friend" on Facebook that you're sure is crazy.
  • Live generously towards others. Be liberal with kindness to those with whom you disagree. Be quick to forgive. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Let go of slander, gossip, unwholesome talk, malice, etc. (see Ephesians 4:29-32). Replace these with encouragement, kindness, and love.
  • Go out of your way to meet other people's needs. No matter what the government does or doesn't do, God's people care for those in need. Jesus said at the end of days we will be judged on what we did for the least of these (See Matthew 25). Cups of cold water to the thirsty, pieces of bread to the hungry, these, and not votes, are what will matter to the King of Kings. Find someone to help today. Do your best to stay anonymous as you do.
To these I would add, Christians are to live in hope. To put it frankly, hopelessness and despair are unbecoming for a Christian. Too many Christians seem hopeless on this side of the election. That's just silly. It borders on sinfulness (The opposite, placing one's hope in the winning candidate would also be sinful. That just seems much less frequent an occurrence in my part of the country). We serve a resurrected Savior. We are a people who trust that this story of ours ends well. Smile more. Sing more. Laugh more. Against such things there are no laws.

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