A Resource by Mark D. Roberts

Presidential Election Results:
A Christian Response

by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts

Copyright © 2004 by Mark D. Roberts

Note: You may download this resource at no cost, for personal use or for use in a Christian ministry, as long as you are not publishing it for sale. All I ask is that you give credit where credit is due. For all other uses, please contact me at mark@markdroberts.com . Thank you.

Presidential Election Results: A Christian Response (Part 1)
Posted at 10:00 p.m. on Monday, November 1, 2004

I’m taking a break in my series “Was Jesus Divine? The Early Christian Perspective” in order to reflect on the results of Tuesday’s election. Yes, I realize that I’m starting this reflection prior to the election itself. I’m doing this intentionally, because what I’m going to say about the election results is not dependent on the results themselves. If I were to save this post until tomorrow night, you might be inclined to think that I’ve shaded my opinions in light of the results. Now you know for sure that I haven’t. (In fact, though I’ll be putting up this series over the course of three days because it’s too long for one post, I’ve already posted the whole series as a resource. This way you can be sure that my ideas have not been shaped by actual election results. And, if you’re eager to read the whole series at one time, you can check out the Series Permalink.)

Yes, at the moment I’m presuming that we’ll actually have definitive results of the presidential election by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Given the closeness of this race, not to mention the growing litigiousness of American politics, I realize that we might have a replay of 2000, or worse. Once again we may not know who our next president will be for several weeks. I hope this is not the case, though it’s certainly possible. So if we’re still in ignorance as of Wednesday morning, I’ll replay this series when we finally know who our next president is going to be. Much of what I have to say below will be relevant, anyway, perhaps even more so, if we’re in a brutal legal battle for the presidency.
One of the great photos from American political history. It reminds us that strange things sometimes happen in political affairs.

Whatever happens tomorrow in the presidential election, some Christians will be glad while others will be upset. Some will believe that the best candidate won, while others will believe the opposite. Post-election polling will show what sort of Christians voted for which candidate. But it will still be true that a vast number of Christians voted for the winner while a vast number of Christians voted for the loser.

Yet, though our emotions and prognostications of the future may differ widely, I believe that all Christians in America should be united in a five-fold response to this election.

1. Receiving the Call of Jesus to Peacemaking

We should recognize that our nation is deeply and almost evenly divided on many, many issues. The fact that one candidate won the election in no way erases this fundamental reality. Moreover, our national divisions are not only ideological, but deeply emotional. When the next president is announced, many Americans will be ecstatic, while many will be profoundly grieved. Furthermore, no matter whether we’re facing the prospect of President Bush or President Kerry, we can be sure that the next four years will be filled with disagreement, dissembling, and disgust as both sides continue to duke it out in the political arena.

Can anything help to heal our nation? Can anything bring us back to more civil discourse about the crucial issues in our time? Yes, I believe so. I believe that the church of Jesus Christ can help to accomplish these worthy goals. After all, Jesus himself has called us to be peacemakers (Matt 5:9), to forgive those who wrong us (Matt 6:14), to be salt and light in our world (Matt 5:13-16), and to love, not only our neighbors (Matt 22:39), but even our enemies (Matt 5:44). We who follow Jesus Christ should treat our political opponents in the spirit of Jesus even as we call others to do the same. (I’ve had much more to say about this vision for the role of the church in our nation. See my series: “The Church and Politics in America.”)

Now of course I’m well aware, sadly enough, that the church in America often contributes to the divisiveness in our land, rather than helping to heal it. Some of the most vitriolic rhetoric in this last election has come from Christian pulpits and pundits. This is tragic and wrong. Though believers should speak their convictions clearly and courageously, they should refrain from doing so in a way that is inconsistent with Christ. Perhaps before becoming peacemakers, Christians in America need to repent for the ways we have contributed to the meanness of our national discourse.

I believe that all Christians and all churches, no matter what our political leanings, need to embrace once again the call and promise of Jesus in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

In my next post I’ll address items 2 and 3 of a Christian response to the presidential election.


Presidential Election Results: A Christian Response (Part 2)
Posted at 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 2, 2004

In my last post I began discussion a Christian response to the presidential election. I explained that my opinions have not been shaped by elections results (and proved this by posting the entire series on Monday). Part 1 of a Christian response to the election was “Heeding the Call of Jesus to Peacemaking.” Here I was discussing, not our call to make peace throughout our world, but rather our responsibility to make peace in our own nation, to contribute to healing our own deep political division.

In today’s post I’ll discuss the second and third elements of a Christian response to the presidential election.

2. Reaffirming Our Dual Citizenship

Christians are to live in this world, but not of this world. Though we are citizens of a nation – and ought to exercise our citizenship faithfully – we find our true citizenship in heaven (Phil 3:20). Moreover, we are to exercise our citizenship in a way that is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:27). Thus, no matter how involved we may be in secular politics, we must always stand back and view earthly affairs from a divine perspective. And no matter how much we may support one candidate or the other, we must always remember that our primary allegiance is not to any human being, but to the one true God.

Heavenly citizenship does not necessarily mean we care less about human politics, however. In fact, the more we embrace our heavenly home, the more we realize that we have been “sent” by God into this world to make a difference for his kingdom. For those of us who live in a democratic nation, this surely entails living out our citizenship as an act of discipleship.

But, at the same time, as citizens of heaven we are not beholden to the narrowness of any nation or political party. We have a perspective from which to critique, not only our political opponents, but ourselves. And, I might add, we have a perspective from which to affirm our political opponents when they act in ways consistent with God’s kingdom.

Thus our dual citizenship doesn’t dilute our joy or our sorrow over the results of a presidential election. But it does allow us to see such things in a heavenly light. It allows us to see beyond raw partisanship. Moreover, it reminds us that there is only one true Savior of the World, and his name isn’t John or George, but Jesus.

3. Refocusing Upon Our Fundamental Mission

On the day before the election, we Christians had a mission in the world. We were sent by Jesus Christ to make disciples from all nations (Matt 28:19). We were called to be light in the world, so that as people see our good works they might give glory to God (Matt 5:14-16). We accepted God’s instruction through the Hebrew prophet Micah to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Mic 6:8). We joined Jesus in his mission of bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). As the church of Jesus Christ, we have accepted our calling to be a provisional demonstration of the truth of the gospel, not only to this world, but to all powers in the universe (Eph 3:1-13). On Monday, November 1st, 2004, this was our primary mission as believers in Jesus Christ.

It’s still our primary mission today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, until Christ finishes the work of new creation. No election result will change this basic mission. Nor will a struggling economy or economic prosperity. Nor will a season of peace or the threat of terrorist attack. Nor will the enjoyment of political freedom or life under political oppression.

Christ’s Great Commission window from the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in St. John’s, Newfoundland. This is the oldest Anglican Parish in Canada, having been founded in 1699 as a response to Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28.

In saying this I’m not minimizing the importance of secular government and politics. Far from it. But I am aware that such matters, as significant as they may be on one level, can easily distract us from our primary calling as Christians. Given how much attention has been focused upon the presidential election in the last year – for better or for worse – it may be time for each of us to refocus our sights on what matters most in life. And it may also be an opportune time for our churches to do the same.

In my next post I’ll finish up this series by addressing elements 4 and 5 of a Christian response to the presidential election.


Presidential Election Results: A Christian Response (Part 3)
Posted at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2, 2004

In my first two posts in this series I’ve outline three aspects of a Christian response to the presidential election:

1. Receiving the Call of Jesus to Peacemaking
2. Reaffirming Our Dual Citizenship
3. Refocusing Upon Our Fundamental Mission

In today’s post I’ll finish up this short series, adding items 4 and 5 to the list.

4. Renewing Our Trust in the Sovereignty of God

No matter who will be our new president, we Christians need to renew our fundamental trust in the sovereignty of God. I guarantee you that God is not surprised by the election results. In fact, before the foundation of the world he worked these results into his plan for the creation. Whichever person will be our new president, the truth of Romans 8:28 remains rock solid: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

When elections don’t go our way, it’s easy to doubt God’s sovereignty. We wonder why God let the wrong candidate win. Our doubts and passions are exacerbated when we hear believers on the other political side claim that the election results reflect God’s personal endorsement of their candidate. Yet there is a benefit for our souls when our candidate loses. We’re reminded once again that our primary trust is in God, not in any human being.

A Serbian icon, picturing Christ as Pantokrator, the "Ruler of All Things."

Conversely, when election results match our voting, it’s easy to put too much confidence in a human being or an administration. In our glee, we can neglect God’s sovereignty in favor of political victory or national pride. Thus, even and especially if your candidate will be the next president, you need to remember just who is really in charge of the universe, just who is King of kings and Lord of lords.

This leads to my final of five points.

5. Recommitting Ourselves to Praying for the President

No matter who was just elected president, we need to pray for this person and his administration, daily, if not more often. However you voted, you can surely agree that the next president desperately needs God’s help. Scripture is clear that we’re to pray for our rulers (1 Tim 2:1-2). The need for such prayer is clear, now more than ever.

Many Christians find it much easier to pray for the president if they voted for him, but not if they didn’t. This is both ironic and mistaken. The irony is that if your candidate lost the election, then you must believe that the winner needs God’s help even more than if your candidate had won. So logic would suggest that we intercede more consistently for a president we don’t like than for one of whom we approve.

Moreover, we should remember that the early Christians were called to pray for, not a president whom they elected, nor even a ruler of whom they approved, but rather for an emperor who had been foisted upon them, and who in many cases actively sought to persecute them. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 actually reads:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.

“Kings” includes both the Roman Caesar and other subordinate rulers (like King Herod). Notice, Scripture does not say, “Pray for your ruler when you agree with him, or when you’re on his side.” Rather, we are to pray for our leaders . . . period. (And, I might add, no matter how bad the next president may be in your eyes, I guarantee you he won’t be as bad as Nero, who was the Roman emperor at the time Paul urged Christians to pray for him. Nero was famous for, among other things, proclaiming himself as a god and senselessly crucifying hundreds of Christians.)


Admittedly Christians will differ widely in many of their responses to the presidential election. This is natural, given the diversity of our views on many topics, including politics, economics, world affairs, not to mention theology. But, I believe that all Christians, no matter our political inclinations, should respond with unity to what has happened in our country.

In review and conclusion, here are five aspects of that unity:

1. Receiving the Call of Jesus to Peacemaking
2. Reaffirming Our Dual Citizenship
3. Refocusing Upon Our Fundamental Mission
4. Renewing Our Trust in the Sovereignty of God
5. Recommitting Ourselves to Praying for the President