Along with millions of others I was watching the election returns on TV Tuesday night. The last two days have provided somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster for me, and I know I’m not alone. A large group of people were surprised by the election results, and are now struggling to find ways to both understand what happened and to choose how to move forward.
Some possible responses to these events are decidedly unhelpful: becoming angry, running away and hiding, remaining depressed. And moving to some South Pacific island probably won’t work for most of us!
The pundits and TV talking heads have poured over the detailed numbers and there seems to be somewhat of a consensus: the country is changing. The demographics of this country look different than they ever have before, and those trends will only continue. More ethnic diversity, more young people, more non-churchgoers, more single women. Whether the consequences of those changes are a good thing or a bad thing is where people strongly disagree. Whether you are thrilled with the results or devastated by them, the reality is that our country is different.
Change is going to happen. And it’s likely that change will happen even faster in the future. We cannot choose to prevent things from changing: we can only choose how we respond to those changes.
It may be easy for us middle-aged or older people to look at these changes and say, “Everyone and everything’s going to ***!” But then we turn around and say, “The future of our world, our home, our country, God’s Kingdom, is young people.” Different generations ARE going to see things differently. Their cultural understanding is different. Their values will naturally be different. The world they know and live in is different than the world previous generations have known.
So I wonder, what’s our goal? Is it to prevent change? That’s impossible.
But if we have a deeper goal, perhaps we can communicate it to those with a different world-view in a way that can make things better.
For those of us who are Christians, we believe the Kingdom of God is relevant to every generation, every culture, every circumstance. But how different does our world look today than it did when Scripture was first written? Certainly there must be principles, ways of communicating, person-to-person connections, that can help make the most important things relevant for those in every culture even now.
Many Christians are feeling very disappointed and upset over the state of our country right now. Will shouting angry protests make any difference? I don’t think so! Neither will constantly pointing out how wrong and bad “they” are. Or running off to a Christian sub-culture complaining to each other about how bad things are.
There must be another way!
Doesn’t the Kingdom of God have something to say to everyone? What would He say to those who want to empower women? Protect the environment? Provide for the homeless or those without work? Care for the sick? Are those bad things? I think not. Perhaps politics divides us along lines that are very different from those that are most important to God.
Here are a few examples of the conundrums I’ve been ruminating over:
- Fiscal sanity vs. caring for those in need.
- Personal responsibility vs. the power of “we.”
- The meaning of family vs. the pain and trauma that concept has for many.
- Standing apart from culture vs. influencing culture from the inside.
My beliefs about right and wrong are no different today than they were a week ago. Although I was not pleased with many things about Tuesday night’s results, maturity is defined more by how we respond moving forward. I believe understanding these realities more will make us more effective in doing what God put us here to do.
Your turn: What do you believe these election results indicate about our country? How are you planning to respond? What do you think God’s people should do in response? I’d love to hear from you!
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