In order to keep us from getting hurt in the scuffle, I thought it might be useful to suggest a few tips to help us maintain our sanity during this election season!
1. Maintain a Kingdom Perspective.
There’s no sense in getting all uptight about politics when the reality is that we are just visitors in this world, anyway. We are just travelers. Tourists. Outsiders. (See 1 Peter 2:11.)
Think about it this way: do you get all wrung out of shape about the elections in Spain? No? Why not? I’m guessing it’s because you are not a citizen of that country. In a similar way, we Christians shouldn’t allow the affairs of American politics to get us overly stressed out, because this really isn’t our home country. We are from a different Kingdom altogether. And when we see the mess that this world is in, it is certainly a huge blessing to remember that this is not our eternal home.
2. Avoid Power-Over Thinking.
I recently heard a sermon by Pastor Greg Boyd in which he contrasted “power-over” thinking with “power-under” thinking. The kingdom of this world is all about grasping power and controlling others. The kingdom of heaven, on the other hand, is all about power-under. It is about serving. It is about placing the needs of others above our own. When Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in the garden, Jesus told him that “those who take up the sword will also die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Jesus clearly came to turn this world completely upside down. He did not come to control; He came to serve and to lay down His life for all. Wow! How amazing is that?
As Christians, we must be cautious that we do not get drawn into the power-over approach. Rather than seeking to control and dominate others, we should step back and seek to love and serve. This applies to politics, and it also applies to all human relationships. Think about all the marriages that could be saved if the husband and wife sought a power-under approach rather than power-over!
3. Dodge the Emotional Loop.
One thing I have noticed this year more than any election year is the heightened state of emotions in regard to politics. I believe that Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media have made communication so open that many people seem to be getting quite carried away in the emotional surge.
In their book, The Leader’s Voice, Clark and Crossland note that our emotions run in an emotional loop with others around us. In other words, our emotions can affect the emotions of others, and their emotions can affect ours. Have you ever been having a bad day, and then someone came up to you who was bubbling over with joy? Can you recall how that had a tendency to lift your emotions? Or, on the other hand, have you ever been having a good day, and then someone approached you who was very angry or sad? Do you recall how that pulled your emotions down?
A person who is emotionally healthy can rise above that loop and stay in control of his emotions regardless of those around him. The Bible actually states that it is a strong person who has the power to stay in control of his emotions (Proverbs 16:32, Proverbs 25:28, Proverbs 29:11).
As we apply that concept to our current context, I see a lot of Christians who are getting dragged into a very negative emotional loop in regard to the political conversation. Through Facebook, TV, the Internet, talk radio, etc., many people’s emotions seem to be running wild. I am suggesting that you become intentional about rising above that loop and avoiding the damage that comes with it.
4. Seek to Shake the World Through Love.
Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples: by your love one for another” (John 13:35). In a world that is filled with anger and hostility, our most penetrating weapon is love. Through intentional love we can completely shake this nation.
Unfortunately, it appears that many Christians are taking their lead from some of the leading talk radio shows on the air today. I believe Jesus’ pattern will allow us to be much more effective than that of, say, Rush Limbaugh. Truth without love alienates, and I believe that is one of the reasons we have such a divided culture today. Imagine what could happen if we approached the political conversation in the way that Jesus did! Now, that would be revolutionary! And that is what it will take for us to have a voice in this world.
5. Pray, relax, and go make a sandwich.
I believe we should be involved in the political conversation. I believe we should vote. I believe we should do what we can to influence our culture. But even then we should keep in mind that God is in control. In the midst of your activity, continue in everything with a spirit of prayer. Then, relax. Let God take it and deal with it.
Do you realize that God is not up in Heaven wringing His hands with anxiety? God is not stressed out about the election, so we need not be stressed over the election, either.
Once you have truly given this to the Lord, relax!
Then, go make a sandwich.
Everything will be all right.
The last chapter of history has already been written. For those of us who know Christ, it ends well. For those who do not know Christ, well … not so much.
If you do not know Christ personally, now would be a terrific time to find Him. The Bible says, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be rescued” (Romans 10:13). Now is the time to ask Him for forgiveness and call on Him to rescue you from the consequences of your own sin. With that, you will avoid that ultimate Judgment and enjoy eternal life in a place that will blow your mind: the presence of God in Heaven!