I’m sure most of you have heard the news by now. The news media has pronounced Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 US presidential election. Many who supported Donald Trump are left today with feelings of bitterness, anger, and fear of what the next four years will bring. Throughout the election season, I have not written anything about the election, politics, or the state of the nation. In fact, I haven’t written anything at all. My own feelings were too raw and emotional. But today I feel the need to write to you, my fellow Christians in the United States and elsewhere.
For many Christians, Donald Trump represented their best hope for preserving what is left of religious freedom and Christian convictions in this country. To them, the idea of making America great again meant returning to a time when most of the country believed in God, when prayer and Bible reading were accepted and even expected parts of public life, and when the laws reflected Christian beliefs about marriage and the sanctity of life. They fear that our move away from Christian beliefs and principles means that God will reject America and remove His favor from our country.
I can understand these feelings, but I do not share them. While there are many promises and warnings given to nations in the Old Testament, I can’t find any in the New Testament. I can’t find anywhere that Jesus called a nation to follow him. I can’t find anywhere he told his followers to seek a good country with moral laws and settle down there. I can’t find anywhere Jesus talks about the governments of men at all, except to say, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) and “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
The New Testament makes it clear that we are sojourners in this land, wherever we may live. Other ways to translate this word are strangers, aliens, foreigners, and visitors. Peter referred to Christians as sojourners living among unbelievers (1 Peter 2:11-12, KJV). Jeremiah warned the Israelites to remember they were sojourners in Babylon (Jeremiah 35:7). Even the Jews were considered sojourners in the land of Israel, the land God had promised them, because ultimately the land belonged to God, not them (Leviticus 25:23).
Jesus certainly treated his followers like sojourners and aliens. He told his disciples they needed to be willing to give up everything for him—their families, their property, their homes, and even their lives. He told them to expect persecution and hatred because the light they would share would be hated by the darkness. He sent them out into the darkness to carry his light to people who felt at home in this world but were strangers to God.
This world is not my home. I’m a sojourner here. I have a job to do while I’m here and it’s a difficult one. I’ve been called to stand firm in my faith while others mock me and even hate me because of it. I’ve been called to live a life according to God’s ethics while showing his love to people who live by a very different ethic. I’ve been called to preach the gospel of forgiveness through Christ by my words and deeds. I’ve been warned that I will face persecution and I may asked to sacrifice much. But I’ve been given a promise of eternal joy in the presence of the one who has called me to do these things.
That promise is worth waiting for. So today take joy in the promise of a future with the Lord instead of dwelling on the fear of the present in a dark and weary land.
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:3-8)
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What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.