Much has already been written and said by conservative Christians in response to President Obama's reelection. I found the reflections of Al Mohler and Russell Moore to be among the best. Needless to say, most evangelicals are disappointed that Mitt Romney didn't win. So where do we go from here? I'm suggesting five responses:
1) Honor and Pray for President Obama (1 Peter 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:17)
Seriously, the command to both honor the President and pray for him is not optional for followers of Christ. The election is over. The votes have been counted (well, probably not all of them!). So now our job as believers is to pray for God to move in the heart of our President and lead us with moral conviction, courage, and grace.
2) Relax (2 Timothy 1:7)
Elections are dramatic, tense moments in American life. They've always been that way. And if you're on the losing side, you fear America becoming what the grainy, ominous 30-second ads said America would be if your guy lost. Relax. God has not given us the spirit of fear. We don't place our ultimate hope in a President, but in a King whose authority is not challenged and whose coming reign is sure. And we know that we will never find utopia on earth until the King consumates His kingdom. So relax. If Christians under Nero could trust God, you can surely trust God under a Democratic president, right? If Christians in China and Sudan and Saudi Arabia could bravely live out their faith, I'm thinking we'll be just fine. America is still a great place to live. People are literally dying to get in here.
3) Don't be ashamed for standing up for your principles, even if you lost (1 Corinthians 15:58)
I voted for Mitt Romney based on three issues: sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage, and free-market principles which I believe better alleviate poverty. I didn't agree with him on every issue. But I lost. However, I don't feel badly about voting the way I did. Christians should be wary of over-involvement in politics, but we should never be afraid to stand up for what we believe is right. This is one way we love our neighbors and our communities and our countries. In the end, if we were on the side of justice (prolife) and we lost, at least we were on the right side. I don't believe this labor on behalf of the defenseless is in vain.
4) Dispense with the doomsday stuff
One thing I'd like to see Christians abandon is the doomsday prediction business. Like clockwork, every time a politician who doesn't embrace our values gets elected, we churn out lots of poorly written apocalyptic doomsday books. Want to get a good chuckle? Read one of these from the 90's. You'll find that most of the doomsday scenarios didn't happen. Let's find creative ways to engage on the issues about which we care, to write thoughtfully about vexing social problems, but retain the blessed hope of the gospel through it all. I'm not saying we should adopt Joel Olsteen's positive gospel of nothing, but let's also not be merchants of fear. Let's point people to the eternal hope of the King.
5) Realize that most of the best culture-changing work happens outside of politics.
Elections are important. Good leaders are vital for a thriving society. But politics is not the only means of affecting change. In fact, my next book will be on this very topic. Together with my friends, Dillon Burroughs and Dan King, we put together a book that addresses 12 key cultural issues (abortion, the environment, poverty, etc) and ways individual Christians and churches can make a difference. Consider abortion. I'm grieved that President Obama will likely appoint two Supreme Court justices who will likely ensure that Roe versus Wade is affirmed. I wish that heinous law was overturned yesterday. And yet, I can actually save babies from being killed by supporting my local crisis center. In fact, what if all the wasted money wealthy conservatives threw at Super Pac ads was redirected at establishing more of these very effective crisis centers? We may not need new laws restricting abortion because girls would choose life. This is just one example where ordinary people of faith can get involved, right now, in their local communities. So if you are hacked off about the way the election went, roll up your sleeves, get involved in your local church and in local organizations making a difference. Christians are not called to serve the world they wish existed, but the world that is. Let's get involved in applying the gospel to the brokenness of our very fallen world.
Daniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC). You can find more from Dan at his website DanielDarling.com.