A Word to the Post-Election Church

By: Mike Bishop
*originally published on November 12, 2020

It’s time to become salt and light for the healing of our nation

I’ve come to a simple conclusion: a lot of you Christians out there need some pastoring. You probably have a pastor already. That’s great! I don’t want their job. But, it’s abundantly clear that all the preaching, counseling, and church programs in the world don’t seem to be helping.

You see, it’s a pastor’s job to be a shepherd. That’s literally what the Greek word for pastor (poimēn) means. A shepherd’s job is to make sure the sheep don’t starve, or eaten by wolves, or stuck in holes. It’s a messy, challenging, and necessary job. If a shepherd only tried to make his sheep happy and never did the hard stuff, the sheep would die and he would have to start taking care of the pigs instead.

That’s where I might be able to help. You don’t have to like me and I’m getting old enough now that the whole “people liking me” thing has really worn off anyway. I know the “hard stuff” of pastoring is actually where lives get changed.

So, here it goes.

Let’s talk about this election. A lot of you Christians voted for Trump, which is fine. You have the right as American citizens to vote as you see fit. I know some others of you voted for Biden, or a third-party candidate, or no one at all, at least for president.

But I’m not talking to voters, I’m talking to
followers of Jesus.

Many of you are stirred up because of how the election went down. I get it. Nothing seems cut and dry in these turbulent days of 2020.
There always seems to be another “what if” out there on the horizon. What if there is an agenda against people of faith? What if there is voter fraud? What if there are people behind the scenes trying to manipulate the puppet strings of politics, the economy, and the moral vision of America?

Here’s the truth: there are people doing all those things. Humans unshaped by the character of Christ will always seek to design a world that benefits “us” over “them” and “me” over “you.” They want the Kingdom of God without the King.

Don’t be deceived. But don’t lose any sleep over it either.

The President of the United States, or any politician, is not our hope for rooting out evil from society. Sure, we want them to be competent and trustworthy, but that’s often not the case. Instead of putting our trust in our leaders to fix the ills of society, we are simply called to pray for them and submit to their God-given authority. Here are the scriptures:
Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:2, NLT)

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God…anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished…Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.” (Romans 13:1–2,4–6)

Wow. “Pray, so we can live peaceful and quiet lives…Anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against God has instituted…the authorities are God’s servants…Pay your taxes.”
It sounds to me that we need to keep a clear conscience, live in peace, be people of prayer, and become good citizens. Why? Because we have a job to do. The kingdom of God is at hand!

There is nothing more important
than fulfilling the great commission
of Jesus.

Not even the election. Not Trump. Or Biden. Republicans or democrats. Nothing. So, it’s time to stop believing otherwise. Now. Here are some ways:
1. Stop believing political “prophetic words” that don’t come true
What happens when a public prophecy is wrong? The prophet needs to repent, stop making wrong predictions that are not from the Holy Spirit, and find other ways to use their gift. It’s time to rethink how the prophetic gift operates in the New Testament church.

The Apostle Paul says that “one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.” (1 Corinthians 14:3, NLT). That’s it. You might say, “Well, what about Agabus?” Yes, a prophet in the book of Acts predicted that a great famine would happen across the entire Roman empire. But you know what? He was right.

Remember, our prayer is that we would be able to “live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity,” not lives of chaos, conflict, and drama based on false prophecies.

2. Stop quoting the scripture from 2 Chronicles 7:14 and applying it to the United States of America
There are three words to remember when quoting Bible verses: context, context, context. Let’s read it:
“Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:12–14, NLT)
Solomon had just completed the first Temple in Jerusalem. This was the place where God’s presence would dwell, worship would happen, and sins would be forgiven. However, if the people started following idols and practicing wickedness, God would send droughts and plagues. They were instructed to do the following:

Pray. Seek God’s face. Turn from their wicked ways.

In other words, pray, worship, and repent.

Now what’s interesting is how the famous verse 14 starts. “If my people.” His people. The people of the covenant. Through Jesus, the new covenant with God has been extended to anyone who calls on his name, Jew or Gentile.

Do you follow? He’s talking to us. God’s
people. The church.

When the church follows idols and practices wickedness instead of serving God, the “land” dries up. We are consumed with darkness. Our worship falls flat. Leaders commit adultery and act like everything’s fine. We tolerate narcissists and deceivers. We treat the Bible like it’s a book full of slogans and sayings that we can twist to fit our politics and ideologies.

What God told Solomon has nothing to do with the spiritual condition of America, but has everything to do with the spiritual condition of God’s people. We are the ones who need to pray, worship, and repent. If we do, and only if we do, God will hear our prayer, forgive our sins, and heal our churches.

Which brings me to my third “stop”.

3. Stop calling one earthly vision of America’s future “evil” and the other vision “good”
I’m very thankful for the United States. We’ve accomplished a lot of good in the world over our very short 224-year existence. There’s also been a lot of bad. Today, we appear to be split between two very different ideas for how to move forward as a country. There are sincere Christians who fall on both sides of that divide. There are also many who are torn and cannot go all-in with one vision or the other.

Thankfully, I’m here to tell you that God has given us a clear path forward as his people.
It’s the way of the Kingdom and the way of the cross.

Along with our calling to submit to the governing authorities and pray for them, we are called by Jesus to be salt and light in the earth. That means we are the preserving force when society is tearing itself apart and bearers of light when it seems like the darkness is overtaking everything.

“Salt and light” is not a earthly political
agenda, it’s a heavenly one. 

Consider the words of Jesus:
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:13–14, NLT)
Our mandate as followers of Jesus is to be agents of preservation and light on the earth. As the temple of the Holy Spirit, our individual lives and churches are the place where heaven and earth meet. Instead of being dividers, we should seek to be peacemakers, healers, and lovers of everyone, even (and especially) those that have different political views.
Do you know that it is not our job to judge people this side of heaven? That’s God’s job. The scriptures say that even Jesus was not sent into the world to judge, but to save (John 3:17).

You might say, “But what about the verse, “Speak the truth in love?” Doesn’t that mean we should speak the truth about what is going on in our society and try to convince others that stuff needs to be fixed? In love, of course?”

Again. Context, context, context.
“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:14–15, NLT)
So Paul is talking about maturity, good leadership, and becoming more like Jesus in every area of our lives. He is not commanding us to “speak the truth in love”. He is saying that the fruit of a mature Christian will be discernment, faithfulness to the Scriptures, and growth.

Mature Christians will naturally speak the truth because that is the obvious outcome when someone has been conformed to Christlikeness. Also, they won’t have to try to make their actions and speech filled with love. It will just be so.

It’s time to stop demonizing other children of God because they have different earthly visions for human flourishing. We shouldn’t expect this to be normal in our society. Choosing sides, conflict, and demonizing the other is human nature. But it’s not God’s nature.

If you have committed your life to Jesus, you have a new nature. The “truth” is the old you is dead and the new you is “hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3, NLT) It’s time to go find your new life and stop living like the old, dead you.
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34, NLT)

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