“For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, since you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Well, that was…anticlimactic. I stayed up until about 11:30 last night watching returns come in from the election and this morning when I checked back in I knew basically nothing more than I did when I went to bed. At least, that’s the case in terms of the results of the election. What I did have confirmed for me is something that I already knew. If you’ll stay with me for a few minutes, I’ll tell you about what that is.
We may know the results of the race for President by the end of the day, but I’d be lying if I said I was confident. What is clear, however, is that our nation is divided. If Trump should manage to hold onto the White House, that will mean that out of the last five elections (including this one) the candidate who ultimately occupied the White House was not the winner of the national popular vote.
Now, in one sense, this is a perfect example of our representative democratic system of governance set in place by our Founding Fathers and enshrined in our absolutely brilliant Constitution working exactly like it was designed. Our nation was always designed to be a federation of states such that federal power was balanced against the power of individual states with the scales tipped somewhat in the latter direction. The Founders understood that if the President was decided by popular vote alone, most of the states would become entirely irrelevant in that selection process and thus their power would be limited almost to the point of nonexistence. Making sure there was a system to absolutely prevent that from happening was critical to the Constitution’s original ratification. The smaller states said, “Make sure our votes count or no deal.” Thus we have the Electoral College.
In another sense, though, when the majority sees their political will thwarted by the minority time and time again (60% of the time over the last generation to be exact should Trump retain his lead in the remaining battleground states), this allows for the rise of cynicism and frustration and outright anger from one side to the other. The majority can genuinely complain they are not getting their way even as the minority can genuinely argue the system is working like it was intended. The result, however, is an ever-deepening partisanship with political–and eventually social–hatred becoming the currency we trade in more than any other. All of this does not make for a healthy nation.
How do we overcome this? There is only one way. At least, there is only one way that avoids tyranny of one form or another. We must commit ourselves to a worldview which calls its adherents to a unity that is higher than partisan politics. And there is only one worldview that offers such a thing: the Christian worldview.
What Paul writes here in his letter to the believers in the region of Galatia (modern Turkey) speaks directly to this solution. Paul declares that in Christ there are no Jews or Greeks, slaves or freemen, men or women (all of which were major lines of social division in his day). Instead, those who find themselves in Him are united by Him.
Now, what Paul doesn’t mean here is that these distinctions no longer matter at all. Whether someone was Jewish or Greek, slave or free, male or female was a characteristic about them they didn’t have the ability to change. These social divisions were what they were and that was it. Perhaps to put that another way, what Paul says here does not somehow offer coverage to the woke person arguing for a genderless society today.
Instead, what Paul means is that while those distinctions may indeed exist and render people profoundly different from one another, in Christ there is a source of unity that goes beyond them. They are united by something that is so surpassingly greater than the things which might otherwise divide them they are nonetheless held together in loving unity.
The fact is: There are committed Christians who voted for Trump. There are committed Christians who voted for Biden. There are committed Christians who voted for neither major candidate. Yet in Christ there is no Democrat or Republican. All are one in Christ Jesus. Who you voted for doesn’t change the fact that I am called to love you like Jesus did and to be committed to your good above my good in all things. And when you treat me in the same terms, we have a foundation for a relationship that goes beyond our political persuasions. That is, we are united in Christ. We can stand together on the issues that are eternally significant even where we disagree on ones that are not.
Where this worldview does not exist, there will only ever be division that will grow increasingly sharp over time. There will only be tribalism in which one tribe hates the other and is committed, not to their good, but to their utter destruction. There will be wars of territory that tend to leave everyone with less than they had before. The friction and animosity from one side to the other will continue to increase and become more and more bitter as time goes forward. When this happens, our enemies around the world won’t have to do anything to bring us down. We’ll handle that all on our own from the inside out.
Hear me well: The Christian worldview is the only solution to this problem. If you have embraced it in your own life, live like it. Don’t exult in the defeat of your political opponent. Those are people for whom Jesus died and who you are called to love whatever their political persuasion happens to be. Don’t give even a fraction of a hair to despair if your candidate does not come out on top. Jesus is your Lord, not the current–or past–occupant of the White House.
If you have not embraced the Christian worldview, allow me to invite you very directly to consider doing so. The worldview you currently hold will not bring you the peace, hope, life, or love you are seeking from it. It may grant a form of power, but not one that will last longer than you have the ability to sustain it. It will create a context for relationships, but only with people who are just like you and think about all the richness and diversity you’ll miss out on if that’s the case. Most of all, though, it will not ever provide you with the resources to fix what is broken inside of you, and I know you know what I mean.
Only in Christ will you find the tools you need to thrive. Only in Christ will you find hope that goes beyond a political party. Only in Christ will you find the life that is truly life. As we begin to pick up the pieces on this side of the election–even as we are still awaiting the results–let us commit ourselves to the path that will see our nation not only stay together, but grow stronger as we go.