On this, the day after the U.S. general election, 2016, the states have given the 45th Presidency to Donald J. Trump. Some people are elated; others are deflated. No matter what the results were or would have been, the country has felt deeply divided over this election cycle. This has been one of the most divisive elections in our history. We need a path to healing.
- Remember, the office is bigger than the man or woman who fills it.
Presidents don’t just shape the office, they are shaped by it. In most Presidents, you can even see in physical terms the effects from carrying the weight of this office over four or eight years. No man or woman is sufficient for such responsibility. Just like any world leader should, a President may quickly realize the weight of his or her office and—no matter their sectarian belief—ask God for help! The Lord who raises up kings and removes them (Daniel 2:21), works through even secular rulers to accomplish his will. A surprising example of this can be found in the Persian king, Cyrus:
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped. (Isaiah 45:1)
Unbelievably, God calls Cyrus, the conquering pagan king, his anointed, a title reserved for Israel’s coming king, the Messiah who would follow in David’s footsteps—ultimately Jesus Christ. In the imperfect situation of Israel’s captivity, God used Cyrus to accomplish his will:
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’” (2 Chronicles 36:22-23)
If God can use Cyrus, Israel’s captor, to furnish exiled Israel a decree allowing them to rebuild their temple and return home, how much more can he use a flawed President?
- Pray for the president.
Pray, because of what we said in the first point. Fallen men and women need God’s help to rule well. So, Paul writes to his pastor-protégé Timothy in the New Testament:
The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. (1 Timothy 2:1-2, The Message version)
We must pray for President Trump, regardless of our agreement, disagreement or indifference toward his policies and character. Every President needs our prayers, and God commands them from us with the promise of the well-being of the church.
- As President Obama said on social media last night, we must honor the peaceful transition of power.
We’ve had divisive elections before. At election’s end, it’s time to remember we are all Americans. Be civil on social media. Be respectful of all viewpoints, and stay engaged, not just in presidential elections, but in self-governing at all levels.
- The best way to move forward is to listen and seek to understand.
Especially in the wake of this election, feelings are raw. People on both sides felt that if the other candidate won, not just the election but also the country would be lost. We need to realize how deep the wounds are. Don’t gloat. Don’t rub salt in the wounds. Christians can exemplify this if we heed God’s word:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
- No matter how the media caricatures it, Christians did not all vote the same.
Writing in Premiere Christianity, British evangelical Sam Hailes had encouraging words for us prior to the election. He began, “Dear America, I love your country. And I am praying for you today.” He went on to list several reasons we should be encouraged, including the reminder that good Christians will sometimes disagree about our choice of the best person to run the country:
In order to maintain any kind of Christian unity following today, it is vital to admit (even if it’s hard to do so) that God-fearing Christians are voting in all directions. It’s long been taken for granted in the UK that good Christians will vote for different parties. And it’s helped us all stay sane and avoid shouting matches.
If nothing else, this election has opened the eyes of Bible-believing Christians to the fact that we are each responsible for our own Christian convictions, wrestling through the implications of the gospel, seeking to apply a biblical worldview without allowing a political party bind our consciences. We are loyal to Christ first, to each other second. Love of country (and party) trails these prior commitments (see Matthew 22:15-22 and 37-38).
- Don’t move to Canada. Here’s why.
Canadian publication Maclean’s Magazine even set up a camera in Vermont on the Canada-U.S. border to see if any Americans cross over after the election.
Probably not many actually will. We Americans are fascinated with Canada, but we don’t really understand it and might not get on well there. As Mashable has noted:
- They don’t have pennies, and their money is confusing.
- You don’t know enough about hockey.
- You’ll get spoiled on Tim Horton’s. (They say it tastes better than Starbucks and is creamier when mixed with milk.)
- In below-zero temps, while New Yorkers turn on the heat, Canadians have a grill-out.
You’re probably safer just to hunker down here for the next four years. But seriously, don’t hunker down either. Why? Because of reason number seven.
- Teach your kids, and set an example for your friends that America works best at the local level.
When Alexis de Tocqueville surveyed the American social landscape in the mid-1800s, he noticed several features of democracy that fascinated him, which he recorded in his classic, Democracy in America. He was most enthralled with the way our democratic ideals were being lived out in local governments in the townships of New England. He noted:
- Local government is the key to American democracy.
- Democracy is more direct in local contexts: politicians speak directly to constituents; committees are made up of your neighbors; policy is decided by direct votes; everyone can watch over the implementation of policy for direct accountability.
- Local government is a school of Democracy. Participation makes better citizens.
Whatever your feelings about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or a third party candidate, the democratic process has done its best job, and we have a new President-elect. As Americans, when the system works we all win. As Christians, we can lead the way in healing the divide between those who feel they won and those who feel they were defeated if we keep these seven steps in mind.