The election is over. Now what? In this series, I will use Romans 12 to frame reflections of this presidential campaign and hopefully encourage us to live faithfully as we return to the “ordinary time” of the American political calendar. Editor’s note: For previous statistical analysis and nonpartisan political reflection from Josh’s expertise, see this link.
We have been bombarded with an endless barrage of scandals, punditry, and “hot takes” on every twist and turn in this election season. There continues to be a cacophony of election post-mortems, widely divergent responses to the outcome, and countless calls to action. Amidst the seemingly unrelenting maelstrom, how can we (re)orient our hearts and mind to the joy and hope of the Gospel?
I believe that Romans 12 is one place we can turn. The book of Romans is, as John Stott emphatically describes, a “manifesto of freedom through Jesus Christ [and] the fullest, plainest and grandest statement of the gospel in the New Testament.” Romans 12 is a turning point of the epistle as the apostle Paul transitions from theological discourse to actionable imperatives. As it has been treasured by Christians across many generations, so it remains relevant to us in today’s political climate.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
The outcome of the election has spurred calls to action. Sharing a post, signing an online petition, or giving money to a civic organization is important. As Christians, we are called to more than that. We are called to dedicate all of ourselves to be living sacrifices to God. This is a costly commitment not for social media likes or adherence to social conventions, but for a merciful God whose gift of restored relationship with Him through Jesus requires a response no less than our whole lives.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
But what does it look like to be living sacrifices for God in the current political climate? We must first reject conformity with the norms and attitudes of our world. Instead, we should subject our political affiliations, ideologies, and visions, however good, to be transformed and renewed by God’s perfect will. In doing so, we can better discern and understand God’s will for each of us in our specific situations and contexts.
The end of this election should not signal the Christian’s hibernation into political disengagement or apathy. I hope we prayerfully seek how we can be agents of mercy; as God has been so merciful to us, how can we we commit to living sacrificially for Him? And will we seek to have our minds transformed and renewed so we can better know and pursue His good and perfect will for us?