Note: This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter issue of Eternal Perspectives, EPM's quarterly magazine, published November 2012. A printable pdf version is available to download above.
By the time this issue of Eternal Perspectives arrives in your mailbox, the presidential election will be over. Followers of Christ, regardless of who they advocated and voted for, should now pray wholeheartedly for our president and his administration, as Scripture instructs us in 1 Timothy 2:1-4:
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Here are three thoughts I shared after the election four years ago, and which I’d like to share in the wake of this election, not even knowing the results as I write. I revised and added some material that I think will apply regardless of the election results.
1. Don’t stop voting (you do it every day with the choices you make).
Voting isn’t something you do every year or two. We cast multiple votes each day. We cast votes for Heaven or Hell, for grace or truth. For self-control or self-indulgence. For the Spirit or the flesh. For abiding in Christ, or independence from Christ. For wisdom or foolishness, and blessing or curse.
Every decision we make, every action we take—and the heart attitude with which we conduct our lives—casts a vote for one kingdom or another. Every vote counts. Eternity will be affected by them.
We can’t solve all our nation’s problems, but we can address the issues of our own hearts. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
You can still talk to parents and kids in your neighborhood about the value of unborn children, and offer support and help as needed. You can go to city streets and homeless shelters and offer your service. Your ballot may or may not have made a difference, but your vote to love your neighbor will. God won’t overlook it, as He won’t overlook a single cup of water given to little ones in His name.
Our next chance to vote is right here and right now, whether we spend time with God, pray for His help, read His Word, serve our family, help the poor, dying and needy, entertain this thought, speak these words, watch this television program, or click on this Internet site. (You already vote often; vote wisely.) The key to change and influence in this world is not, and never has been, politics. It is faithfulness to Jesus. In the end (which will never end) acts of faithfulness—many of them quiet, some seen only by God—are the votes that will count, bringing the eternal results that will matter. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Just as nonchristians won’t have a second chance to go back and this time accept Christ, so we as Christians won’t have a second chance to go back and this time serve Him. Today may be our last opportunity to represent Christ to our neighbors and to the needy.
As missionary C.T. Studd put it, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
2. Look to God’s Word for direction for the future.
Circumstances change: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).
Our Savior does not change: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Only by trusting in Christ and His promise of the world to come can we find peace: “Trust God; don’t worry; be at peace. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:1-3, 27).
No matter what direction our earthly country may be going, it is our never-ending heavenly country that we should represent: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
I love America. Yet if this was my only country, my true country, I would despair. God has set eternity in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Just as no person in this world can satisfy us, only Christ, so no place in this world can satisfy us, only Heaven. We await not a new America but a New Earth. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1).
America may or may not unravel in coming decades, but God’s kingdom certainly won’t. People of the world don’t primarily need America; they need Jesus. While living in the wreckage of this sin-stained earth, let’s realize the world’s main problem is that it’s inhabited by people like us, sinners in need of redemption. These thirsty people need us to reach out our hands and extend to them, as cold water, the love of Jesus.
As C. S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”
3. Don’t give up intervening for God’s unborn children.
First, let me say emphatically what I’ve often said: we should be concerned not only for the unborn, but for all the weak and needy, for orphans and widows, for the hungry, for abandoned and abused children. We should be concerned about and fighting against sex trafficking, and the abuse of the elderly. We should obey God and “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8).
To be prolife does not end with advocating for the protection of unborn children. But because they are the smallest and weakest and most vulnerable human beings, and because they are killed at the highest rates and greatest numbers, and because countless people and even the law of the land argue for the right to destroy them, to be prolife begins with defending the unborn. It was for the unborn children that the term “prolife” originated, and those—including Christians—who now call themselves “prolife” but defend the right to kill unborn children are prostituting the historical meaning of that term.
We should never be prolife only in regard to unborn children. But to say we are prolife about other human beings while defending the right to kill the unborn is to deceive ourselves and others. It is co-opting a term while abandoning its meaning. It would be like people in the mid-nineteenth century adopting the term “emancipation” to advocate for children working long hours in mines, while turning around and defending people’s right to buy and sell slaves. If you are going to do that, find another term besides emancipation. If you are going to speak up for other needy people while ignoring the plight of unborn children, call yourself what you wish, but don’t dare say you are “prolife.” To be prolife means more than being concerned for unborn babies, but it can never mean less than that.
This election, like all those before it, did not end this discussion any more than American elections in the nineteenth century ended the discussion of whether Africans were fully human and deserving of civil rights. The real issue was hidden under the words, and it was far bigger than those who supported and opposed it.
The election is over. But the righteous cause of the unborn is not over. The indictment against people who shed innocent blood is not over. The command of God is not over: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).
You and I can each defend ourselves in this national debate. The children can’t. We are the only voice they have. Our ministry has given literally millions of dollars to help other needy people around the world in addition to the unborn. But who is more poor and needy, more incapable of speaking up for themselves than these unborn children, created in the image of God? Who in our country has been stripped of legal protection and is being killed at the rate of over one million per year? There are many other issues, of course, but what issue is more important and horrific than the killing of children? And who will speak up for them if not us?
Candidates and elections and presidents will come and go, but this issue will not leave us as long as we live. And we will surely face it, when all is said and done, at the judgment seat of Christ. May we not wait until then to discover how serious it really is.
I confess that for the last few weeks I could hardly wait for this election to be over. But I especially can’t wait for our Lord to bring to us a New Earth, without war, racism, hatred, lies, suffering, evil, holocausts, the exploitation of women, and the killing of children. Justice and peace are surely coming. May we be on their side before they arrive:
Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:3-5)
Grateful to be His child and yearning for Him and the world He has promised,