“Only one thing to it: a strong stomach …. That’s politics.” ― The Marriage of Figaro
So, what if the Republicans win back the Senate? The polls say there’s a pretty good chance they will.
Before answering that question, I suppose it’s good to remember that evangelical Christianity has not always had the best political foresight. In the 1920s, for example, evangelical support of Prohibition inadvertently led to the expansion of the federal government with its accompanying evils; in 1976 evangelicals swept Jimmy Carter into the White House; and in the 1980s the Moral Majority overpromised and under-delivered in their efforts to lobby for a Christian agenda.
Perhaps it’s unfair to cherry-pick three failures. But even if evangelicals had been uniformly successful in the political arena, it doesn’t change the New Testament’s description of our present age. These are lessons that post-Christian America is forcing Bible-believers to reconsider: government cannot change the heart, it can only restrain evil (Rom. 13:4); the world that hated our Savior will hate those who follow Him (John 15:18-20); and “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).
These are sobering political realities. And with them in mind, let’s get back to our original question—what if Republicans retake the Senate after an 8-year minority?
Perhaps it means that Republicans turned out more of their base. Perhaps it means that conservatives are more likely to vote in mid-term elections. Or perhaps independent voters are frustrated by Democratic policies—the pollsters will surely let us know. A Republican takeover, however, does not change (even a little bit) our nation’s increasingly secular trajectory. A Republican victory neither portends a national revival, nor even delays our nation’s wholesale ignorance of God.
And so the Christian response to Tuesday’s elections should be the exact same whether the Republicans retake the Senate or the Democrats hold a thin majority. Our response should boil down to three acts of faith: prayer, conviction, and devotion. Where did I come with that list? Well, the book of Jeremiah is surprisingly relevant to our nation’s political environment. Let me explain.
Pray for National Humility
Jeremiah repeatedly condemns Israel for her pride—“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches.” (Jer. 9:23). Or, “Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the LORD has spoken.” (Jer. 13:15). Pride, of course, begins with the Serpent’s inquiry, “Has God really said?” And our nation, by and large, has concluded that God’s Word is not only foolishly irrelevant, but also evil. We have boasted for too long in our enlightened wisdom, our military might, and our unabashed wealth. So God’s people ought to pray that God would grant poverty of spirit, which, of course, is required for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3).
Remember God’s Uniqueness
Politicians merely reflect the people who put them in office. And just like in Jeremiah’s time, “the customs of the people are vanity… their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field” (Jer. 10:3-5). These gods, toted around and propped up by nails, lead Jeremiah to reflect, “for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you” (10:7). Our nation worships at many altars; our countrymen serve gods just as insignificant as Israel’s scarecrows. And they pick political leaders who share their convictions. But remember, “the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King” (10:10).
We’ve already quoted Jeremiah 9:23, but the following verse is just as meaningful to the political perspective we should have: “but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Rather than fixate on the evils of Obamacare, true believers ought to study God and the things in which He delights. Jeremiah’s wording communicates an intentional effort to know the Lord. And God not only rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6), but grants true perspective to those who know Him—Paul counted all things as loss when compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8-10). The more you know Christ, the more perspective your political persuasions will have.
Yes, of course I’m encouraging you to vote on Tuesday. And after you visit the polls, set your hope in God. Read Isaiah 40. Remind yourself from Revelation 19-21 that King Jesus has already won. Pray for national humility; pray for those in authority, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Tim. 2:2).
And whatever you do, don’t waste your voice. Christians possess God’s life-changing gospel, a message that saves the sinner from hell’s fires. Political bumper stickers never confront a soul with sin, never share God’s life changing gospel, and never sow the seed of God’s word. Spend your efforts working for God’s kingdom.
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear that your soul may live.” (Isaiah 55:2-3).