"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Rom 8: 35, 37
The federal election is almost upon us and the nation has been plunged into a high-stakes, emotionally-charged campaign season. Over the last 15 years or so the Church has become much more active and engaged in the political arena, so election awareness is at a high level in the Body of Christ. Christians are following polls, joining the campaigns as volunteers, praying, and even fasting for godly outcomes in October. This engagement in the public square is really important but as we do— let’s keep watch over how it could be affecting us. Let’s be absolutely vigilant that we don’t get swept up in the strong current of the spirit of the world that is raging right now and lose our footing.
This is part one of a three-part blog that I am writing to help us (I’m speaking to myself too) stay in a place of Christ-centred peace and joy, as we actively participate in the election season. I believe we should participate fully, but with a radically different spirit. We are citizens of another kingdom and this particularly dark time desperately needs God’s light, truth, and peace shining through us. Let’s seize the moment to walk out our witness.
RESISTING THE SPIRITUAL SWIRL
How we want to begin is to step back and notice the spiritual climate that exists in the nation right now, and discern where the enemy is sowing into it. He is creating a spiritual swirl. He is empowering his strategy and using people’s strong emotions and desires to increase this swirl’s intensity. He is also using godless ideologies as vehicles to sow lies and deception into the thinking of the nation, ultimately to increase the war against Jesus and His Church. The swirl we can all sense is marked by fear, intimidation, criticism, accusation, offense, division, and posturing for power. Noticing these features of the spiritual climate is the first step towards being alert to how these can be inadvertently impacting us, and make sure they don’t.
Have we noticed an increase of these in our lives or our church communities? Do we find ourselves reacting more strongly than we should, saying things we normally wouldn’t, being caught up in emotions that normally wouldn’t drive us? Perhaps we have, but it could also be that we have acclimatized to the heightened influence of the spirit of the world to the point that we have a hard time seeing it. When you live in a city that has a high elevation, you acclimatize to the lack of oxygen, but when you first arrive, the thin air affects all you do. God help us not to be acclimatized to the spirit of the world!
With this in mind, what should we watch for?
I’d propose that there are 3 main things we want to be vigilant and on guard against, particularly in this season. I’ll drill down into each one through this three-part blog series.
DON'T GIVE FEAR A FOOTHOLD
Let’s begin by looking at fear.
Fear ranges from a low level, simmering-on-the-back-burner anxiety to an outright terror that totally paralyzes us. It is the antithesis of faith, challenging, undermining, and sabotaging faith whenever it gains dominance in our hearts. We must be especially vigilant to not give it that place of access in this season because fear is everywhere. It may not be identified as such but it is fear that is adding gasoline to the fiery political rhetoric around climate change, immigration, gun control, pipelines, abortion, carbon taxes and much more. It’s on both sides of the debate that surrounds these issues and the Christian community is just as vulnerable to its assault if we don’t clothe ourselves in Christ.
Fear for our children to come under ideologies that oppose our faith, fear of the “media mob” and the persecution they can bring as the nation shifts to a more overly anti-Christian culture, fear of loss of prosperity and opportunity as our nation’s finances fail through poor management, fear of the loss of religious freedom as we seem to be moving into uncharted territory where scripture is inches away from being considered “hate literature”, fear of losing privacy and security as bad actors in the tech world become more and more aggressive. Much is at stake in this election and fear is everywhere.
TURNING TO JESUS WHO BREAKS ANXIETY
While identifying how fear is touching our lives is the first step; turning to Jesus for help is the second.
As we turn to him it’s a turning in faith (committed, trustful, reliance), not staying in the grip of fear and pleading, contending or decreeing for him to deliver us from the anticipated disaster. This is a vital difference. Trusting him means we come out of agreement with the anxiety. Yet so much prayer these days is staying in the anxiety and thus is driven and fuelled by fear. In contrast, prayer that turns to Jesus in deep trust and faith recognizes his ability to change governments, but also his ability to take his people through the most wicked governments or ideologies and continue to pour his goodness, redemption, life, and kingdom into their lives, in fact, at times in accelerated ways. While the outcome of the election is important, it’s not do or die, Jesus is the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
This thought (of Jesus's Lordship) is not new for most of you, and most (I trust) will agree that Jesus is Lord, he is well able to care for his people at any time, any nation. Maybe just remembering this truth reorients us out from under the spirit of fear and brings peace to our hearts. Making this shift for most is a simple step of repentance and reorientation, choosing faith, although it can also include asking Jesus to rescue us from anxious thoughts if they have overcome us. He'll help us make this shift to a place of trustful faith if we ask.
Trusting Jesus is not being passive, but it does mean we come out of agreement with the raging swirl of anxiety that is everywhere. It means we become empowered to walk in the opposite spirit, being kind and gracious to those who politicly oppose and slander us, praying with great compassion for those who see themselves as our enemies and living in sabbath rest.
I invite you to check in with your heart and notice if you have agreed with the fear and anxiety that is trying to get access to you. If so, also notice what stirs it up in your life— is it reading political commentaries on social media, is it conversations about certain topics, is it a daily habit of reading or watching all the news, maybe it's receiving fear-laden prayer requests that makes you vulerable. You don’t have to hide, but guard your heart. Guard your faith. Turn your trust to Jesus again and watch peace and joy return.
Watch in the next couple of weeks for the upcoming blog installments, important alerts to help us discern the traps being set for us in this high-stakes election season. We are praying that these will help us all to walk through this time in highly effective, joyful prayer.