It seems that every four years we’re told that this election is the most important election ever. I am amazed at the ever-increasing importance of them! Working backwards one wonders how unimportant the election of, say, 1816 was. This is not to diminish the importance of the issues at stake today. Voters face issues that will, in many ways, determine the future of the United States of America—just as voters faced such issues in 1816. Some may wish to point to abortion as the defining issue, yet voters in the early 19th century lived in a nation in which chattel slavery was legal. It is difficult to rank one national evil as worse than the other, given the barbaric natures of each.
As Christians we need perspective. Specifically, we need God’s perspective. We live in a specific time in a specific place and we face specific problems, yet God is outside of time and space and he has all things under control. He is working human history toward his intended goal, even as we work toward what we understand to be his purposes in this world. We pursue justice, for example, yet we do so knowing two things: 1. true justice will not come in this lifetime; 2. true justice will come when the Lord of justice brings it. In a sense, we fight a losing battle, but only from our limited perspective. We will never eradicate injustice yet we pursue it because it is God’s ultimate aim and it will happen when he comes again. This is true of caring for the environment, fighting poverty and sex trafficking, etc. We pursue what is good and right because God desires our pursuit of it, even as we cannot bring it about—at least not to the degree he will when he comes to finish his work of cosmic restoration.
Much of our political divisiveness comes from our limited perspectives, from our inability to see much beyond today or even tomorrow. We like to think that even being able to see the next four years provides us all the perspective we need, yet God remains on his throne and sees all of human history from his position of eternal presence. He is, after all, the Great I AM. While we think in terms of election cycles and presidential administrations God doesn’t think in terms of decades or centuries or even millennia. He has eternity in mind, at all times. He is not limited in understanding and never worries about tomorrow.
This brings us to our main point: election. Is this the most important election ever? No. It is not. In his letter to the church in Ephesus Paul wrote about the most important election ever.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.Ephesians 1:3–10
Here we see quite clearly God’s plans for human history, whether in 21st-century America or first-century Ephesus. God’s election, his sovereign choice to save his people, took place before the foundation of the world! This is the most important election ever! Notice what his purpose in this election is: that we should be holy and blameless before him.
Paul says that in love God predestined us to be adopted as his sons, that is, as those who could inherit the Father’s estate. This was according to the purpose of his will. Paul repeats this idea: God lavished on us the riches of his grace according to his purpose. This divine purpose for human history was “set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time.” Its aim? To unite all things in Christ. This is what God is about in the world today, just as he was in 1816 and 1016 and in 1016BC. This is what he is working toward. This is his purpose. Since this is God’s purpose for this world, this makes the election of his people the most important election of all.
What does this have to do with presidential elections and races for the House of Representative and the Senate, for county drain commissioners and judges, for school boards and city proposals? These things have their importance, but that importance is not ultimate. Scripture instructs us to pray for our leaders, for those in authority over us. We should do this. We should care about national and state and local elections. We should care about them with God’s perspective, however.
In the midst of anger and division and the pursuit of political power by deeply opposed factions, we should recognize that God is busy at work, bringing about the fullness of his election. That is, God is at work in his people, drawing them to himself, strengthening their faith, causing them to be holy and blameless. This is God’s plan for this world. Therefore, let us shine brightly as beacons of his hope. Let us be eager to proclaim the greatness of his love and mercy offered in Jesus. Let us not lose sight on the one who holds the future, not only of America and the official resident of that big ol’ house on Pennsylvania Avenue, but of every single atom in this universe. It marches on toward God’s intended purpose, which “he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time.”
Whether you vote today or you have already voted or you will not vote today, know that God has cast the deciding vote for salvation, and there is no veto power, no opposing legislative majorities, no electoral colleges that can stop his plan for the ages.
Dear friends, our confession is as simple as it is profound: Jesus is Lord. Live this today.