The following reflection was originally posted earlier today on the website of Amberlea Presbyterian Church.
I imagine that there are many bleary-eyed Americans arriving at their places of work this morning. I am simply an interested observer in Canada, yet I found myself up into the wee hours of the morning unable to pry myself away from the television coverage of the final stages of what has been an extremely divisive, and often ugly, presidential campaign. This morning there is extra spring in the steps of many our neighbours to the South who are elated with the surprising election results. Others, for whom the election did not go as planned, find themselves in a place of sheer despondency. While it’s understandable that the candidates and those who have worked so hard to support them would feel such emotions, I would suggest that this should not be the case for Christians. Christians who find themselves swept up in joy or drowning in the depths of despair following the results of last night’s election may need to examine whether their reaction is actually a symptom of misplaced hope. Psalm 2, one of the most frequently quoted psalms in the New Testament, tells us that God thinks our human political arrangements are a bit of a joke. In the face of the kings of the earth and the rulers of the world, “The One enthroned in heaven laughs” (v.4).
Perhaps the most important word for Christians struggling with how to process the results of last night’s election is found in Revelation 5. John of Patmos has been taken into the throne room of God. He is shown a scroll representing God’s intention to execute divine justice and bring the story of creation to its intended goal. But then he comes to realize that “no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it” (Rev. 5:3). John begins to weep under the weight of the thought that history is ultimately meaningless and that there is no one who will be able to bring the story of the world to its true conclusion and goal. I’m going to let John tell the rest of the story:
“Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by four living creatures and the elders” (Rev. 5:5-6).
The vision of John the Revelator reminds us that the meaning of history is not carried by politicians or bound up in election results, but rather is to be found in the Lion of Judah, who is the Lamb that was slain. Christians are those who have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb, so that they may serve as “a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). In other words, genuine history-making is not made by voters pulling levers and leaders exercising power over others, but rather by disciples who by following in the way of Jesus’ faithful service and self-offering participate in the reign of the Lamb. While there are better and worse forms of government and leaders, the very best cannot bring in God’s kingdom and the very worst cannot topple God’s reign. This knowledge liberates us for a life of discipleship which takes the form of joyful independence from the reigning powers and political machinery. In Christ, we are always free to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and love our neighbours as ourselves (Luke 10:27). Of course, as Jesus’ own life demonstrates, loving the Lord our God and our neighbours in this way may very well get us into trouble with the powers that be, but they cannot unseat the Lamb who sits on the throne. In the days ahead may both our tongues and our lives proclaim, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev. 7:10).