The presidential election of 2020 was the fourth election that I have been old enough to actually be interested. If you do the math, you’ll realize that only takes us back to 2008, at which point I was a sophomore in high school. Of those, this most recent election was the most interesting because I was observing the results from a much different perspective than I had in the past. I was most interested in observing the reaction of professing Christians. These are two of the feeble thoughts I’ve had in the initial stages of that observation: 1) the American “church” is utterly disconnected from the true church, and 2) many in the “reformed camp” have an idol of worldly-mindedness.
The American “Church”
I put the word “church” in quotation marks because most of the men, women, and children in the United States who profess the name of Christ are false professors. That’s not something that I write lightly or flippantly. It breaks my heart, because there are people that I love who are entrapped in the deceitfulness of American “Christianity.” But we must come to terms with the truth. The reaction of so many to this election is an evidence or fruit of this greater problem. Throughout her history, the church has been the subject of scorn, ridicule, and violence. During the Papist period, true believers were burned at the stake as heretics. In the USSR, believers were slaughtered not for their opposition to communism, but because they refused to concede on the gospel. Today, all over the world, true believers are brutally murdered by terrorist organizations and national governments. Yet in these United States, those who profess to be Christians cower when a man whose policies they dislike is elected president. But what else are we to expect from people who hear a gospel that is really no gospel at all?
The Reformed Camp
The reaction of many of those in the “reformed camp” is altogether not surprising to me. When so many men who call themselves Reformed are enamored with the eschatological, ecclesiological, and familial views of certain popular internet “theologians,” the outcome was inevitable. It is a deep sorrow to me every time I see social media posts that advocate for open rebellion against a God-ordained government. Now, let us be very clear and very careful. I do not think, and I am not saying, that the policies of Joe Biden and the Democrat party are God-ordained. Quite the contrary. However, if we truly believe as our confession states (and the Scriptures teach) that God ordains all things whatsoever cometh to pass, then we must say that the election of Joe Biden was accomplished according to the providential direction of God. (As an aside, I understand that with all the recounts and the lawsuits and the legal acrobatics, the final results have yet to be determined).
The response of so many has revealed the idolatry of worldly-mindedness. I’m guilty of this idol as well. If we’re being honest, we must all say that it is an idol against which we constantly struggle. But this election has brought it into the blinding spotlight. I recently watched a video as part of my local church’s Lord’s Day evening study. One of the questions raised was this: “You know men’s hearts by what they are talking about. What are Christians talking about today? Are they talking about God?” That question hit me square in the jaw.
Are we talking about God, or are we talking about the things of this world? We like to dress up our discussion of worldly things in “christianese.” We use words like “theonomy” when what we really mean is how we think our nation’s legal process should function. We use words like “postmilennialism” when what we really what to talk about is politics. We (I) use words like “textual issues” when we really mean, “I want to demonstrate my intelligence and ability to argue.” I’m not picking on anyone in particular, but I do see myself in this boat. I’ve been guilty of it for the past several months. I talk about going back to school because the religious thing to do is to be a “better provider” for my family, when what I really want is a comfortable job with a nice paycheck. I’m naturally a lover of money and a hater of God.
How do we get out of this rut of worldly-mindedness? It comes down to our focus (duh, right?). What I mean is this: when we are so caught up in thoughts of God, then these temporal issues around us fade into their proper positions. For the longest time I thought the chief end of man was to abolish abortion. I never would have said it explicitly, but it’s what I thought. Before that, I thought that the chief end of man was to be confessional. Growing up I was taught that the chief end of man is evangelism. But all of these things are inconsequential in light of the true chief end of man: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. How do we glorify him? Let’s not get caught up in the “christianese.” We glorify God by doing what he has created us to do: to love him with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, and all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. What does it mean to love God? The Lord Jesus told us: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14.15). How do we love our neighbor? Again, the Lord Jesus told us: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15.12-13). Do you keep the commandments of God? Do you lay down your life for the church? This is how we glorify God, and in so doing we find our highest good and our highest joy.
Some Practical Considerations
There is so much talk of manliness among the “reformed camp.” We’re told that we need start “acting like men.” And typically what is meant is that we need to act like John Wayne. Or George Patton. Or George Washington. Seldom what is meant is that we need to be like John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3.30). Fighting the good fight does not mean fighting for individual liberty or constitutional “rights.” Fighting the good fight means mortifying the deeds of the body regardless of who is president.
Can you say that you have peace in your heart? Let us say that the “worst” comes to happen. These United States descend into a gloomy, miserable pseudo-communistic regime. Would you still have peace in your heart? Would you still have joy? How you answer that question reveals where your treasure is. Now, I don’t want this country to head down that road, but I know that God works all things to the good of those who love him to conform them to the image of Christ. Throughout her history, the true church of God has flourished under persecution. We now live in a land full of darkness and wickedness. Perhaps God is bringing a season of darkness to this land to prepare the way for a season of light; this may be the answer to our prayers for revival.