Tuesday is an important day. It’s a big deal when people in America exercise their right to choose their leaders. As we choose temporary leaders for two, four or even six-year terms, it’s important to keep in mind the eternal, focusing on those things that last forever.
It’s interesting that so many people refer to this election as the “most important election in our lifetime” or in our history. Fact is, every past election has been important and every future election will be as well, because they are the way in which American citizens are able to express their values and priorities in the form of a choice. No matter how important the issues or how capable the candidate, elections are merely temporary affirmations of what matters now.
Unfortunately, the political culture in this country has been intensified to a point where the temporary is falsely conflated with the eternal. As a result of that mindset, partisan lines are drawn and people isolate themselves in silos of agreement, where one’s delight in being “right” becomes more important than loving others. The consequences manifest themselves in destroyed friendships and disrupted families.
It breaks my heart when I see stories of people who say that they will never talk to a particular friend or family member again because of the candidate they chose on a ballot. I’m all about voting one’s conscience, but breaking up friends and families over a political choice is absurd. When scripture lists the three things that last, political choices or politicians themselves were not named among them. Instead, we read that there are three things that last: faith, hope and love.
The Bible shows us repeatedly that even the most powerful leaders eventually reach the end of their term or tenure. We see story after story of kings from Saul to David to even Herod checking out, either through personal failings or their own mortality. In a word nobody lives forever, so we need to stop assigning them eternal significance.
As you reflect on your vote, whether you cast it early or are heading to the polls on Tuesday, I encourage you to think of the day after and the lifetime that follows. I encourage you to take a step back and adopt a perspective rooted in the eternal and those things that last forever according to 1 Corinthians.
When it comes to FAITH, contemplate your own beliefs and how they inform your life. If you, like my family and I, adhere to the Christian faith, you know that God has a plan that transcends time and that He remains present as it unfolds. Now is the time to grow deeper in that faith and trust God with the outcome.
HOPE is the notion that we can endure in a moment of sadness, disappointment or despair knowing that things will get better. As Tuesday’s results come into focus, about half of our country will be delighted and the other half will be disappointed. If they view this election as the only thing that matters and do not remain rooted in hope, despair can set in. The loss of hope can cause people to eschew hope for tomorrow and lose sight of the values that underlie our Democratic republic, causing them to take matters into their own hands in a fit of mob rule, the very opposite of what has made our country great. So we need to remain people of hope.
Finally, the third thing that lasts is LOVE. It’s essential, regardless of circumstance to love our families, our friends and, thanks to Jesus’ command, those we perceive as enemies. Those relationships bring richness and meaning to life. Despite a pandemic that separates us, we must work even harder to remain connected to those we love and to love them better. If anything, the pandemic gives us an opportunity to love others more purposefully. As we reflect on those who have lost their jobs or lost loved ones, we have an opportunity to show love. That effort, to love the less fortunate or even the less politically agreeable, requires intention, investment and inspiration. That inspiration it’s the power of love and it lasts forever.
So, if you haven’t voted already, please do so on Tuesday. Then, say a faithful prayer for our nation, remain hopeful in what is to come and be a beacon of love to those around you. When that happens, you will be engaged in the most important thing of our lifetime: faithfully and hopefully loving others. Everything else is temporary.