It’s been the year of big decisions. Earlier this year we had the EU referendum vote here in the UK. This Tuesday US citizens go to the polls to vote for their next President
Both decisions have great significance well beyond those who are able to vote. Here in the West Midlands we have many people who were affected by Brexit but because they were not UK citizens or not old enough to vote weren’t able to take part in the decision (that’s not a comment in favour or against the result just a point of fact) and tomorrow’s vote will have an impact all around the world.
The obvious affects will include
- Economic decisions made in the US that will affect world economics
- Foreign policy decisions leading to war or peace
- Cultural trends that will be followed.
Here in the West Midlands again people are affected because of ethnicity. South Americans and Muslim background people will be (and already are) affected not just by policies but by the tone of conversation and how people wee prominent leaders speaking about them.
There’s also another knock on affect for Evangelical Christians around the world. I fear that a few well known Bible teachers and church leaders may have forgotten that they speak first as members of God’s kingdom and with responsibilities to their brothers and sisters around the world. It’s no good thing if a particular person’s teaching ministry gets closely associated with a personality or some policies especially if those matters are not so obvious outside of a parochial context.
I have refrained from speaking about how people should vote here in the UK. I’m not going to get into the habit now and definitely not to advise on an overseas election. How you vote and even whether or not you vote is your free choice.
I do want to make a few quick comments that I think are relevant both to those voting in this election and to all of us who are not but who are affected by it and who will have our own political contexts to participate in (indeed, it is maybe easier for us to think about our own contexts by reference to something outside of our responsibility).
- A quick word about the affect of seeing other (and especially leading) Christians make statements and choices that we may see as wrong, foolish and/or offensive. Christians will make different choices and disagree on things. We will even disagree passionately. Just because someone loves the Lord and is godly does not mean that every thing they say or do will be wise or godly. We are all fallible. We should seek to disagree with charity, humility and compassion. We should be ready to forgive the failings and foibles of others. We should not write off another person’s contribution because they have made decisions that we see as wrong.
- Tomorrow’s decision -and every political decision matters. Pray about it. Choose carefully. Always be thinking about how even your political decisions can and should be a good gospel witness and to God’s glory.
- Tuesday’s decision does not matter as much as we may sometimes end up believing. It’s big but it’s not that big! However we here in the UK feel about last year’s General Election result and the Referendum, neither of those things were either the end of the World nor the beginning of a golden, utopian age. They did not change the fact that God is still on his throne and that the Gospel must still be proclaimed. These things will remain true if there’s another General election here and/or another Scottish Independence referendum. They will remain true who-ever is the next US president.
These past few weeks, we have been looking at the book of Daniel in our home group. Also you will have seen on this site that Bearwood Chapel will begin a new series on the book of Revelation early next year. There’s a brilliant theme running through those books. It’s this, earthly kingdoms will rise and fall but God’s kingdom will remain forever. Empires and superpowers may rise up, men may acquire great power. Some of these people and systems will be benign and do good, others will seek to do harm. However, their power will only be temporary and one day they will give an account to God. God puts us as his people in place to be a witness in those kingdoms about his faithfulness.
This is important. I know many people are worried about how these things will turn out and how it will affect them. This is maybe particularly so for those who are watching at a distance and have no power over the outcome. It’s especially true for those who are already the most vulnerable and powerless among us. So it’s important for us to be reminded that God is good and God is sovereign. This means that we do not have to fear tomorrow.
One last thing. We will be praying tomorrow for the United States, for all those taking part in the election that they will be given wisdom, that the work of the Gospel will not be hindered in the US and that people will see Gods glory. We’ll also be praying for Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump and the other candidates. They are first and foremost people, made in God’s image, fallen because of sin, needing to hear the Gospel and know God’s love. That should be our main prayer for them and for all political leaders everywhere.