Regardless of who you voted for and the outcome of election day, life still goes on. Despite how grim many projected the world would be, I woke up. I opened my eyes. I breathed in. I breathed out. My kids were getting ready for school. My wife was getting ready for her day. And in the background, the never ending commentary of analysts and talking heads droning on about their shock, surprise, and amazement of the last 12 hours. Here’s the reality, Trump won; though I guess now the proper phrasing would be, President Elect Trump has won.
It’s happened. What many said was impossible is now true. The system said to be “rigged” has been ripped open. I watched as state after state was shaded in red, sending more and more electoral votes to the republican canidate. All of this as Democrats stood, watching in unbelief.
Now, as the day begins, I wonder, What Do We Do Now?
What do we do now?
As a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ, a husband and father, a pastor and teacher, and one who people look to for advice and counsel, what do we do now? What do I say? How do I respond? How do I encourage those around me?
This morning I turned to the Gospel of John, chapters 13-17. I turned to these chapters because of what we see happening. Jesus is about to go to the cross then return to his Father. He was saying goodbye to his followers. Life was about to get all jacked up. The disciples really had no idea what was about to happen. And while they struggled with confusion, anxiety, fear, and the what happens now, he leaves them with some final words, words I think we should take heed to.
As followers of Christ, I believe, more than ever, we must return to simply instructions of Jesus.
1. Live as servants.
In the opening verses of John 13, Jesus does something unexpected and unbelievable, he washes the feet of his disciples. A humbling (and kinda’ gross thing) act of service, foot washing was the task of the lowest servant or the youngest child of the house. But here, Jesus humbles himself and takes up the work of a servant and washes feet. In verse 12, he asks the disciples if they understand what had just happened. Lost in shock and bewilderment, they’re without response. So Jesus says, “I have set [for] you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:15 NIV)
What was the example, that we should go around washing peoples feet? No. The example is that Jesus, chose to lower himself to serve others. In fact, when you look at Jesus’ earthly ministry, most of what he does he does as one who is serving.
As believers, we are called to do what Christ has done. He commands it, “do as I have done…” Serving is not a political position. It’s not republican or democrat, it’s biblical. To serve is to see the need of another, and help. It’s caring for another, regardless of gender, party line, or who they voted for. As the Church and as a country, it’s time for those who claim the name of Jesus to begin living as Christ.
2. Love one another
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (john 13:34-35 NIV)
There is a mark that rests on all believers that is seen by everyone and that is our love. Sadly when those outside the community of faith think about believers, love is one of the last things they think of. There is a lack of love among us. We hold to ideals and positions, opinions and politics, and too often we forget to love. Even in our churches, we fail doing the very thing Jesus has called us to do, love one another.
Loving another isn’t in finding those who share your opinions and ideals, beliefs and positions, thus making life easier and right. Love is love when you look past an opinion or a belief and see the work of the Creator. We are all made in the image and likeness of God ,and we are called to love everyone regardless of their political or religious position.
In Matthew 5, Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48 NIV) If we just love those like us, how are we really loving? But to step out and love everyone regardless of who they are, well, that’s the love Jesus is talking about.
We need this kind of love; in our churches and in our nation.
3. Remain in me.
In John 15, Jesus describes himself as the true vine. We in turn are the branches. He says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV)
How will we navigate the challenges to come? We abide in Christ.
You see, in order for us to accomplish the first two tasks, serving others and loving others, we must be connected to the source of love. Without this connection we will fail.
So what does that look like, to “remain in me?” I believe it’s a daily confession that we need Jesus. We need him working in our lives. We need him working in our churches. We need him working in our nation. For those who profess Christ, that means we are devoting ourselves to the the teachings of Jesus and we do what he has called us to do.
This is done in fervent and continuous prayer, a hunger to know God’s Word and apply your life to it, and relying on the knowledge that God is still sovereign. We trust in God first, live like Christ second. We don’t panic. We don’t hate. We don’t hold our opinions as fact. We don’t shot out the other side. We don’t think we know it all. Instead, we love. We value those around us. We care for those around us. We hope for a kingdom to come. And we remain rooted with the Vine.
4. We pray.
In the closing verses of John, chapter 17, Jesus prays. He prays first for himself, then his followers, and then for the followers to come, us. He prays for their protection. He prays for their unity. He prays that they boldness to be and do who and what God has called them to do.
Likewise, we need to pray. We need to pray for our elected candidates. We need to pray for their safety. We need to pray for unity among the parties and across this nation. We need to pray that our leadership submit surrender to God and allow His hand to lead them as they serve the office and the nation. We need to pray that instead of focusing on what separates and divides, we begin to focus on what can bring us together, peace, love and reconciliation.
And we need to pray that what Jesus prayed for comes to be, “all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23 NIV)
Serve. Love. Remain. Pray.
Republican. Democrat. Believer. Non-believer. What matters most is how we live.
For me, though I may live here, my home is elsewhere. But while I am here, I want to live as Christ has called me to live; serving those in need, loving all who surround me, rooting myself in the truths of God’s Word, and bending my knees towards the Creator of Life itself.
So in some small way, the election outcome really doesn’t matter. Sure there may be some issues that we might lean toward in one direction or the other. But that is one of the freedoms that come with living in our nation. I can believe what I believe, and you can believe what you believe. You can choose to have your opinions, and I can choose to have my opinions. It doesn’t make us wrong, just individuals. But what makes us both right is when we can respect each other and still work together to make life better for someone else.
Church, let’s be the Church. Let’s do our part to heal the nation. Let’s pursue Christ as we serve and love others. Let’s rely on the eternal blood of Jesus and not on the temporary practices of man. And let’s join together on bended knee as we seek the wisdom that comes from God alone.