My Post 2012 Election Thoughts

I am a self-identified political junky. Every year I read 10-12 books about Presidential history and even majored in History in college (with an emphasis on American history). I get geeky every election and yesterday was no different! Here are my post election thoughts:

1. President Obama’s win was decisive. Even though Republicans touted the idea that Romney would win decisively (Morris and Rove claimed he would receive at least 300 electoral votes) the opposite proved to be reality. I do not believe you will see the President back down from anything over the next four years – he is not facing re-election and he has nothing to lose. I doubt we will see the gridlock in Washington improve because both the President and the Democratically controlled Senate believe they have political capital to spend in the same way the Republican controlled House of Representatives believes they received a mandate from voters (John Boehner claimed this in his speech).

2. The demographics of our nation are changing. The Democratic machine produced results last night that very few Republicans expected (Dems +6/7). They secured the Latino vote by 79% causing Republicans to gain a lower percentage than in 2008. This was huge and if Republicans ever expect to make a run at the White House in the future, this will have to change. Democrats also carried the votes of women and young people in this election. States that were once considered essentially secure for Republicans (North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida) are now toss-ups and, if we are honest, leaning to the Democrats. The overall demographic shift in our nation will have to be a concern for Republicans in the coming years if they expect to see different results.

3. This was the election of social issues. The voters of three states legalized same sex marriage last night (Maine, Maryland, and Washington). I do not believe this was a fluke. Proponents of same-sex marriage have been hard at work in the last number of years and the President coming out in support of same-sex marriage helped push this issue along. We are heading to a Supreme Court ruling on the issue of same-sex marriage now that we have several states on each side of the issue. Obama will likely appoint at least one Supreme Court justice in his second term (maybe more), which could drastically change the face of the court for years to come. We are following in the footsteps of Europe on social issues and in the next 25 years we will be considered a secular society (if we are not already). This has tremendous implications for the evangelical church in America. If young people continue to trend the way they are on social issues, the church will be the minority voice on social issues (pro-life, traditional marriage, etc.) in the near future. The days of the Moral Majority are behind us and we must adapt as we minister in a increasingly secular society. This is not to say that we abandon biblical values and principals but we should not assume that the people we are seeking to reach with the gospel hold these same biblical values and principals.

4. President Obama is a phenomenal communicator. His acceptance speech last night was superb. He demonstrated, probably for the first time since the last election (2008), the charisma and swagger that made him such a popular candidate. While I may not buy in to everything that he said, he said it in a very compelling way.

5. The “George W. Bush effect” is still in play for a number of voters. Obama ran on the fact that his predecessor’s policies caused the stagnate economy as well as the growing national debt. Regardless of the validity of this assumption, I believe many voters remain disillusioned by the Bush years and think it was impossible for Obama to do anything to right the ship within his first term.

6. God was not surprised and He will not be deterred. While the results of the election may have caught many Republicans off guard, God was not surprised. Regardless of the results, He will also not be deterred. All of history is moving in one direction – toward the forever reign of Jesus Christ. No social issue, political party, or politician can deter His plan. This plan, to save people from every tribe, tongue, and nation was set in motion before the foundation of the world. The church’s mission has not changed even though the culture in which we seek to fulfill that mission may be changing dramatically. We are called to love God and love people; to share the love of God as demonstrated by His Son’s sacrificial death on the cross with all people. The victory is secure and there is no doubt that King Jesus will reign!

Salt And Light

In his book The Living Church, John Stott includes a chapter in which he discusses the responsibility for believers to be salt and light in society. There is one section of this chapter that struck me and I thought it would be worth sharing, especially during this politically charged season. Stott wrote:

If the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house for its darkness. That is what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is: where is the light?

Again, if the meat goes bad and becomes inedible, there is no sense in blaming the meat for its decay. That is what happens when the bacteria are left free to breed. The question to ask is: where is the salt?

Similarly, if society becomes corrupt (like a dark night or stinking fish), there is no sense in blaming society for its corruption. That is what happens when human evil is unchecked and unrestrained. The question to ask is: where is the church? Where is the salt and light of Jesus?

It is hypocritical to raise our eyebrows and shrug our shoulders as if it were not our responsibility. Jesus told us to be salt and light to society. If therefore darkness and rottenness abound, it is to a large measure our fault, and we must accept much of the blame.

Stott’s analysis is piercing and, in my estimation, exactly right. So what is the answer? How does social change take place? How do we, as believers, function as salt and light? Stott identified 6 weapons that believers have in their armory:

1. Prayer – “I sometimes wonder if the slow progress toward world peace and world evangelization is due to the prayerlessness of the people of God.”

2. Evangelism – “It is when the Holy Spirit changes us that we begin to develop a social conscience and gain the vision and courage to change our society.”

3. Example – “Human beings are imitative by nature. So there is great power in example. A single Christian who takes an uncompromising stand for righteousness, encourages others to follow.”

4. Argument – “In the end unjust social structures can be changed only by legislation. Legislation cannot make bad people good, but it can reduce the level of evil in society and so make it more pleasing to God.”

5. Action – “Jesus sends us all into the world to serve, and all of us are called to be responsible citizens, to exercise our democratic rights, to vote and seek to influence other people’s votes, to speak up and write  on current issues, and to engage in public, peaceful protest and witness, and in these ways to be salt and light to society.”

6. Suffering – ” Suffering is a test of our authenticity. Both evangelism and social action are costly activities. For both the gospel of Christ and the moral standards of Christ are unpopular. They challenge our selfishness. So those who defend God’s law and God’s gospel are bound to suffer opposition.”

Here are some questions we, as believers, must ask: Are we using the weapons we have to impact the darkness and lostness of our society? Are we truly being salt and light? Is the neighborhood surrounding our church different because we are involved? If our church closed its doors today, would anyone notice?