Reflections on Elections by Dan Hamil
We are proud that the NAB is a family of bi-national churches that call Canada and the United States home. We also recognize that the recent US presidential election has a lasting impact on the world, especially for those of us in North America.
The American elections are done! Like a rollercoaster of twists and turns, creating at times both a sense of thrill and that tickling sense of nausea, this season of public debate over candidates and referendums has come to a stop. And like riders on a rollercoaster that has continued looping for too long, many are simply happy that this season of choosing is over and they can finally disembark, though with a bit of lingering vertigo.
While many were transfixed to televisions on Tuesday night watching election results run across their screens and listening to commentators strain to put an impossible electoral college puzzle together while fumbling for any new and coherent words to say, I was drawn to a different political function. Because a government entity is selling a piece of land to a developer, land that abuts my neighborhood, many of my neighbors and I were gathered at the official board meetings of the government entity.
The land in question is currently green space—open and vegetation-filled, with a herd of deer, rabbits, and even a few coyotes. Those who live adjacent to the green space or walk by it regularly have for years enjoyed this natural environment in the midst of a fairly congested community. My neighbors desire to see the land remain in this pristine state. The government entity, though, wants to sell the land to close financial gaps. The proceeds from the sale of the land would ultimately benefit the community as a whole.
It was this clash of opinions that brought us to the aforementioned board meeting. Though I was there merely out of curiosity, wanting a preview of what might be developed on that land, my neighbors were there to storm the bureaucratic fortress with metaphorical pitchforks and torches. Without elaborating, I can simply tell you that the meeting got ugly—or perhaps silly would be a better word. Like a room of junior high students not ready to get along, there were people interrupting, yelling, creating unneeded tension, and simply behaving badly. One shout of “Food fight!” and the raucousness of the evening would have escalated to a more chaotic level, I’m sure.
The core of the debate that night was not really about land, but about who got to control the decision about that land. It was truly the tension of control and loss of control. Politics can be seen, on at least one level, as the power of control: who gets to make the decisions for whom.
When Jesus was approached by the mother of James and John, she advocated that her sons receive seats of power and control in Christ’s kingdom. This request ignited a rift in the disciples. Gathering the now power-hungry disciples around Him, Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25–28 NIV).
While politicians jockey for the power of control, Jesus reminds His followers to wrap themselves in the towel of servanthood and to turn from a position of lording over to an attitude of lovingkindness. Whether the candidate, movement, or motion you were rooting for in the American election won or lost, let me remind you that our true king—King Jesus—calls us to lives of servant work. He calls us to give our lives away with raw abandonment.
A former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives wrote, “All politics is local.” Perhaps servant work starts local as well. So as we disembark from the ride of this season of elections, perhaps we as Christ-followers must move into a lifestyle of local servanthood, giving up our hunger for power to focus on the needs of others.
Perhaps we should all ask each other:
Where are the lost in your environment who need the Gospel?
Where are the widows and orphans in your community who need your care?
Where are the hungry and homeless in your city who need your resources?
Where are those who mourn in your neighborhood who need your comfort?
Where are the hurting in your circle of influence who need healing?
Where are the broken and the battered in your municipality that need building up?
One day, all elections will come to an end and all will kneel before King Jesus. At that time, may we the church hear His words to us, “Well done, good and faithful SERVANTS.” Until then, may we the church truly serve as a sign, servant, and foretaste of that eternal Kingdom.