The Call Has Not Changed
As I'm writing this, it's still October. I'm sitting on the other side of the election than you are today. Still stuck in the campaigning, the uncertainty, the pre-election rhetoric.
When you read this, the election will be in the past tense. The votes will have been cast. And (Lord willing) the results will be in. Some of you will be rejoicing and relieved. Some of you will be mourning, angry, or afraid. Those feelings will coexist in our churches this Sunday. Brothers and sisters in Christ will worship together (whether in-person or virtually), and some will be offering thanksgiving while others are asking "why?"
That is why I am writing these words today, before I know the outcome of this 2020 U.S. Presidential election. Emotions are running high. Fear is running high. The divides are painful, and they run through our communities, our families, and our churches. And no matter what the outcome of this will be, there will be people in our lives—people that we love—who will experience those results differently than we will.
I don't need to know the election results to write this post, because a presidential election does not alter the call of discipleship. Some of the practical ways we work out that call may be different based on election results, but the call itself has not changed. So today, I can write to you about what is still true.
God's Kingdom is still secure. Elections have impacts. This is undeniable. But we are part of a Kingdom that far supersedes any socio-political entity. No human leader can overthrow or undermine God's Kingdom. It will continue to march forward, as God has planned, and it will fully and finally come in the fullness of time. This gives us both humility and hope.
We are called to seek the good of the city. We are exiles in this earthly kingdom. But we are called to seek its good while we dwell here. We can discuss and debate the best means of doing so, but our unifying motivation should be to seek to be a blessing and a means of goodness, to reflect the generous God we serve.
We are called to continue the work of discipleship. This election cycle has shown us some failures in our discipleship. These will not disappear once the results are in. We need to continue the hard, steady work of faithful discipleship. We need to invite others into the life of following Jesus and equip and empower them to apply this to every aspect of their lives. We need Jesus-people who will thoughtfully, faithfully, boldly, and graciously engage the world.
We are called to be peace-makers and bridge-builders. In a world marked by conflict and division, Jesus' disciples are invited to a different way. Jesus said the world would know him and his people by the love and unity they share. Jesus' original disciples came from a variety of backgrounds and a variety of perspectives on political and cultural engagement. And yet they banded together as his followers and found in Jesus a source of unity in their diversity. We need to be discipling people of peace who can bridge divides and chart a different way. We need to disciple people to be quick to listen well and eager to understand, slow to speak and humble with their words, and slow to become angry and always desiring reconciliation.
We are called to care for the poor, the oppressed, the needy, the outcast, and the downtrodden. In a culture that values power and caters to those who possess it, Jesus' disciples are called to a different way of life. He invites us to follow his example, humbly "taking the nature of a servant" (Phil 2:7). He calls us to care for those who are easily and often overlooked. To see those who are hurting. To work for justice. To affirm and uphold the God-given dignity and worth of every human being who is made in his image.
We are called to pray for God's Kingdom to come, on earth as it is in heaven. And we are called to in some ways be an answer to that prayer. We, as Jesus' disciples, embody and demonstrate the way of the Kingdom. We are signposts and declarations of what has begun and one day will fully arrive. We are called to pray faithfully—and we are called to live faithfully as Kingdom people and Kingdom ambassadors. We need to disciple people in such a way that they have a lively vision of that Kingdom and an eagerness to embrace it.
We are called to continue to preach the Gospel. The Gospel shows us a God who reaches to us in our neediness, one who extends us grace when we least deserve it. The Gospel shows us that we need transformed and renewed hearts in order to have transformed and renewed lives. The Gospel is not just about a future spiritual reality. It has radical implications for the here and now. If we want to invite others into a different way, we must continue to share the good news of Jesus, and to be good witnesses to its transforming power.
Friends, however you feel this day, your call as a disciple of Jesus has not changed. Carry on faithfully. Do the work of whole-life discipleship. He is with you. He is with his church. And nothing—not even the gates of hell itself—will prevail against it.
This article is part of our ongoing series, Through the Valley: Real Conversations About Following Jesus When the Road Gets Hard, in which we're talking about discipleship in the parts of life that are difficult, complicated, or sometimes controversial.