The Gospel Coalition

Dear Post-Election Self,

Reading this letter, you know which man will reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years. But I don't. I'm waiting for the election results to pour in from Cuyahoga and Waukesha and Arapahoe. Eerie calm awaits the coming political storm. But by the time you wake up, one party or the other will be apoplectic. Tens of millions of Americans will be devastated, following a cutthroat campaign that convinced them the other guy seeks this nation's doom. Millions more around the world know the outcome affects them, too, but they can't even vote to do anything about it. Literally billions of dollars have been spent by powerful men and women who believe their riches can dictate the course of human events. When you read this letter, about half of them will be demanding answers from ruined politicos for why their money failed to do the deed.

No matter what happens, I want you to remember how encouraged you were yesterday to see so many Christians testify to their faith in God alone. Today will be an especially good day to read 1 Peter. By professing trust in the God who makes rulers rise and fall, whether we understand his purposes or not, we "honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet. 3:15). Gentleness and respect have been almost totally absent from the campaign. Slander begat slander. Evil has been celebrated as freedom. But you can in good conscience put to shame even the vile by doing good in Christ. You must not, under any circumstances, return evil for evil. "For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil" (1 Pet. 3:17).

Nothing you will endure under the leadership of either leader---who both thumb their nose at God's Word in many respects---can compare with the hardships faced by the elect exiles of the dispersion. Yet the chastened, impassioned apostle Peter told these harried believers, "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor" (1 Pet. 2:17). You may be rightly concerned that President Obama, if re-elected, will continue to restrict religious freedoms that, while protected by the Constitution, conflict with progressive priorities to redefine marriage and fund abortion. But not even your worst-case scenario can compare to what Jesus Christ has already endured. In fact, all who have been called to Christ have been called to suffer, "because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps" (1 Pet 2:21). Unlike you, "he committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Pet. 2:22).

If we suffer political defeat like those who have no hope but politics, we do not even commend ourselves, let alone the God who hung the moon and stars. But if we grieve as those who hope in the return of the King, those who trust in flawed politicians may one day see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven. Jesus did not give his life so we could watch cable news as if our lives depended on it. Jesus submitted to death ordered by rulers so we might never fear them. "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness" (1 Pet. 2:24.)

Risen Son


You know that either way, you will not wake up tomorrow half as excited as you did on November 3, 2004. You feel rather foolish now, looking back. Leading up to the election, you seethed as spiteful critics castigated a good Christian man trying to lead the country in the tumultuous times of your formative years. You tried to pray for these powerful critics, who truly felt like enemies (of yours? of God's?). But mostly you awaited election results that would vindicate your way of life and silence these venomous voices. That evening concluded better than you could have hoped, or so you thought at the time. Marriage prevailed on many state ballots. Your home-state hero, a sincere evangelical, won the most expensive Senate campaign per capita in history. The President, who had earned his position in bizarre circumstances, won a governing mandate. The next morning, sensible commentators vowed they could not live under four more years of such tyranny. Other sensible commentators reveled in the promise of perpetual one-party, exurban rule. Never forget: sensible people say stupid things in the immediate aftermath of an emotional election.

Within two years that one party had fallen apart under the weight of administrative incompetence and the unpredictability of the seas and the sects. Within four years those exurbs began to sprout what seemed like a endless supply of foreclosure signs. Marriage continued to lose esteem among the nation's working classes even as media elites escalated their campaign to ostracize anyone who believes what the Bible teaches about sexuality. Years after the President left office, his chief second-term legacy on the Supreme Court cast the deciding vote to uphold a massive healthcare overhaul so unpopular that New Jersey elected a blustering Republican governor and Massachusetts replaced Teddy Kennedy with a GOP senator. Still stunning, this far-reaching decision only continued the trend of conservative appointments betraying the principles of their elected advocates. Remember: even when you vote and your candidate wins, you have little idea what will happen.

There's only one thing predictable about democratic politics: no one gets everything he wants. President Obama's supporters know this from 2008. But you may need to remind friends tomorrow if you have opportunity to encourage them to trust in the One who changes all who hope in him. Governor Romney's supporters know this from 2004. But you may need to remind friends tomorrow that real recovery starts only when we confess that we are the biggest problem with the world.

You believe that politics matters. Deeply. Otherwise you wouldn't have invested time in serving on Capitol Hill. You believe a good politician can be a conduit of blessing from God to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of true and lasting happiness. But you don't believe God was surprised by yesterday's outcome. You don't believe his plans have been thwarted, even though right now you don't even know those plans. The sun will rise tomorrow. And the risen Son will return soon.

Sincerely,

Election Day Self


Comments:

[...] Moore tells us to honor the President, and he’s right, we should. Collin Hansen has an excellent letter to his pre-election self. Trevin Wax gives us 3 things the church can learn from election 2012. Doug Wilson gives us seven [...]

Weekly Links (11/09/2012) « The Beacon

November 9, 2012 at 03:02 AM

[...] Collin Hansen from TGC wrote a let­ter to post-elec­tion Collin [...]

Steve Cornell

November 9, 2012 at 01:01 AM

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Let's see this as a challenge to informed, gospel-postured conversations about what is good for us as a nation, remembering that, ”Politics is a field in which the consequences of culture play out; it is not the field in which the culture itself is formed.” (David Bahnsen)

[...] From Me, Yesterday (Colin Hansen at TGC) [...]

election aftermath « Publican's Progress

November 8, 2012 at 08:14 AM

[...] letter to Post-Election self [...]

Bob in IN

November 8, 2012 at 02:47 PM

"You believe a good politician can be a conduit of blessing from God to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of true and lasting happiness." I certainly don't believe that. Take out the term "true and lasting" and replace it with "worldly" and I would agree with you.

We Voted, Now We Pray | Affected By Truth

November 8, 2012 at 02:15 PM

[...] for the Church in America is not irrational.  In From Me, Yesterday, Colin Hansen observed that we have a President who “will continue to restrict religious [...]

The Believer

November 7, 2012 at 12:35 PM

It was just so sad that the American people had no choice but to vote for either one of the two (Obama & Romney) who both clearly do not represent the Biblical and Evangelical principles and views on so many issues and viewpoints. But then, now that the election is over, the Church can and should never cease to pray, for God can change a man, so surely He can work on the life of Obama, let him see the light in the perspective of the Word of God.

[...] “Christians, Let’s Honor the President” and Collin Hansen’s “From Me, Yesterday.” Both exemplify Christian engagement with politics in the best [...]

Joel W. Lohr

November 7, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Incredible word....just perfect! I pray that this sentiment prevails in a much broader circle!

2Ultra Christianity

November 7, 2012 at 11:31 AM

This past election was a dirty one. Each party calling the other party liars. The mud slinging was awful. I am glad that the campaigning is over. The hardest decision was should a Christian vote for a Mormon. This I had to take to my prayer closet many times.

I am disappointed that Romney didn't win. President Obama, I don't believe will ever fight for Christianity the way he had had apologized to the Muslim world, over the Libyan fiasco that he could have stop.

Regardless, of whom is in the political offices of this country or how out of control the world may get, I remind myself and all of you that God never changes, he is the same yesterday, today and forever.Amen. In my book Christ reigns Supreme.
Thank you

Martha

November 7, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Thank you- my sentiments exactly.

Tara

November 7, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Through crisis, character shines.

The Gospel always seems to need the rain of suffering to help it grow. I know there will be bad days ahead, no matter the President. But for Christians, the BEST is yet to come!

Thank you for these words!

Kelty

November 7, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Oh man, I really needed to hear that this morning. God is exposing the idols of comfort, safety, freedom, prosperity and so many desires of my heart that are not guaranteed in this life. Our God and his Word are the only guarantee for us and he's infinitely better than all of this! I believe Lord, help my unbelief.

Tim

November 7, 2012 at 10:00 PM

In its overall sentiment, I really appreciate the message in this post. Thanks for the reminder of who is orchestrating all of these events, and for pointing us to where our true hope lies.

That being said, I was disappointed when I got to this sentence:
" You may be rightly concerned that President Obama, if re-elected, will continue to restrict religious freedoms that, while protected by the Constitution, conflict with progressive priorities to redefine marriage and fund abortion."

The gospel truth of your message would have been changed exactly zero if you had left that sentence out. With it, unfortunately, you have alienated Christians and non-Christians alike who voted for President Obama from the truth of everything else you said. The language of that sentence assumes that all Christians (at least true ones) agree with your stance on marriage equality and abortion, and that we'd all agree that President Obama has actively worked to remove religious freedom in America. Those things simply are not true.

That sentence colors everything else in the article, so that it reads with a tinge of "it's OK that the bad guys won, because God is really in control," instead of "don't put your hope in politics or the workings of this world - put your hope in Christ."

I'm pretty sure you'd like the message to be the latter.

Scott Polender

November 7, 2012 at 09:53 PM

This is the best thing I've read regarding the election. I respect Russell Moore greatly and agree with his general premise that we must honor the President, but saying things like "I wish President Obama would stop supporting the genocide of children" while at the same time telling people to stop having faux outrage does not seem to be the appropriate response for the times. Collin's response is serious and yet marked by gospel hope. Encouraging.

Ian

November 7, 2012 at 09:43 PM

This is an absolutely brilliant post. Thank you for sharing this.

Here are some of my humble, candid thoughts regarding the election as well - I'd love to know what you think!

http://isimkins.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/politics/

Joao de Deus Brasil

November 7, 2012 at 09:17 AM

A great reminder that God is sovereign, in control, and rules above the laws of man. I am not an American citizen, therefore I cast no vote in yesterday's elections, but I understand the polarizing power and the strain the United States went through during the past few months. I especially love this statement (and agree with/believe it totally):

You believe a good politician can be a conduit of blessing from God to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of true and lasting happiness. But you don't believe God was surprised by yesterday's outcome. You don't believe his plans have been thwarted, even though right now you don't even know those plans. The sun will rise tomorrow. And the risen Son will return soon.

The Son will return and we wait earnestly for that day.

7 Post election posts - KevinPierpont.com

November 7, 2012 at 09:01 PM

[...] From Me, Yesterday (Collin Hansen) – “If we suffer political defeat like those who have no hope but politics, we do not even commend ourselves, let alone the God who hung the moon and stars. But if we grieve as those who hope in the return of the King, those who trust in flawed politicians may one day see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven.” [...]

[...] From Me Yesterday by Collin Hansen [...]

Brian Armstrong

November 7, 2012 at 06:34 AM

Amen brother. A fantastic encouragement for me this morning.

Thanks!

Ryan Phelps

November 7, 2012 at 06:18 AM

Thank God for you, for this.

Lori

November 7, 2012 at 05:41 PM

Thank you for this, you put into words feelings I moving about in my brain. Thank you.

Lily Todd

November 7, 2012 at 04:11 PM

Thank you for this!

[...] To read the whole article—click here [...]

Mel

November 12, 2012 at 09:14 AM

Compromising on who created life and marriage is not a gray area that Christians can spend time debating. You either believe that God is the creator or you don't. It's simple truth but one that so many that want to be the ruler of their universe refuses to yield.

The truth will be less and less popular. People that speak it need to be encouraged, not chastised by brothers.

The Believer

November 10, 2012 at 03:55 AM

One favorite columnist of the #1 daily broadsheet here in the Philippines once wrote, that we (the Philippines) deserve the government that we have (but that was still during the previous corrupt administration), and that was at the time when, Filipinos had become apathetic and indifferent, majority have lost hope for a better government, many no longer care to vote. But thanks be to God, He has sent a righteous president for our country now, albeit not an Evangelical believer but a devout Catholic, has the strong political will not to give in to traditional politics, who has the moral authority and leads by example. But I believe it’s got a lot to do also with the aggressive voices trumpeted by many church leaders (both the Catholic and the Evangelical church) against immoral and un-Biblical initiatives that are yet brewing, the churches here could never be silenced when it comes to issuing pastoral stances regarding divorce, same sex marriage, and abortion, that politicians have to concede or else they’d lose in the election. We’re still blessed somehow that the Filipino people still regard our church leaders highly, and have maintained a Biblically conservative positions in all controversial agenda being planned by some legislators.

The Philippines have patterned our Constitution with that of the United States, where we have placed an emphasis on God for the just and righteous governance of our people, and somehow by the grace of God, despite liberalism that’s also creeping into the current generation, majority still have maintained conservative views and positions.

Let’s pray that God will raise up new leaders for the American people who have genuine fear of the Lord, but while Obama is still in place, let’s not give up praying for God’s hand to move in his life, for unless he has a genuine encounter with God (however he consistently claims to be a believer), he will remain the same, or might even worsen.

As light and salt to everyone, it’s really the believers basic duty to show to everyone how to live righteously by the grace of God, never compromising godly principles, however strong and persistent the voice of the enemy may be.

One Filipino pastor has once also said, that the state of our nation is the reflection of the state of the Church, that unless the Body of Christ would unite, set aside minor doctrinal differences and focus on the most essential, pray together and rally the members to live lives honoring God in their workplaces, schools, and wherever they may be, then we would not influence our nation.