By NEMS Daily Journal
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As people on both sides of the presidential campaign worry over the prospect that the other side’s candidate might win, it is good for Christians, as many Northeast Mississippians would identify themselves, to consider Paul’s words quoted above.
Dismay over the election and its potential effects has ranged from fears that Candidate Y intends to destroy the economy to accusations that Candidate X plans systematically to starve poor people. The most agitated of the antagonists on both sides seem convinced that the nation will collapse if their candidate doesn’t win in November and that everything hinges on this vote.
Christians on the right and left haven’t been immune to the hand-wringing hyperbole, either. It is proper, no doubt, to advocate for or against particular programs or principles, but Christian expression of opinion must always be tempered by the reality that politics does not have the final say.
As the Apostle Paul reminded the church in Rome, the love of God is the ultimate meaning of the Christian life, and nothing can sever that status – not even elections that don’t go as we would prescribe.
When we fret about the pessimistic political prospects of the world around us, perhaps it tells us that as Americans we have lived in such a favored time and place that we take our freedom, peace and prosperity as entitlements instead of appreciating them as the historical anomalies that they are.
When we wring our hands over the issues that divide us, we forget how blessed we are compared not just to the world at large but even to Americans in earlier generations: We are not killing each other in battle by the hundreds of thousands; the Great Recession’s misery factor is a small fraction of the Great Depression’s; and while race relations are still imperfect, anyone who remembers the 1960s or before appreciates just how much progress has been made.
When Christians yield to dismay, we forget that the authors and the original audiences of much scripture – Old Testament and New Testament alike – were often familiar instead with oppression, war and deprivation. Their very lives, not merely the denial of the comforts to which we are accustomed, were routinely at stake.
Ancient Israel endured famines, epidemics, invasion, exile and enslavement, yet God never forgot his promises to them. Paul’s own recitation of sufferings, from beatings and jailings to shipwreck and hunger, make most of our own problems – real or imagined – look almost laughable in comparison.
It has been said that despair may be the greatest of sins for the Christian. How can anyone who believes in the resurrected Lord throw in the towel or give up on the possibilities of redemption and renewal?
If politics seems to be closing in on us, perhaps we should spend more time reading Psalms than polls.
Instead of vexations about votes, we can be reminded, in Psalm 23:6, of another way of stating Paul’s reassurances quoted above: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”