By tomorrow, chances are our country will know who our next President will be. News channels and political blogs have been firing non-stop for the past year hinging on this one question – Who will occupy the Oval Office next? Our Facebook feeds are full of Democrats launching bombs at Republicans, and Republicans firing missiles right back. Everyone has a voice. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is ready for today to be over.
But Middle School and High School students are in an interesting situation. They have all of the platforms available for them to voice their opinions (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), but many of them are under the age of 18, and don't yet have the privilege of influence in the voting booth.
So students, does that mean your voice can't be heard? Does that mean your voice shouldn't be heard? Does that mean your opinion doesn't matter?
How can you make a difference when you can't vote for President?
First and foremost, I believe that the Kingdom of God is not filled with people who complain or grumble about our families, our teachers, or our President, but it is filled with people who pray. Paul writes in 1 Timothy:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
So how can you be effective in our Presidential election? First and foremost, pray. Stop tweeting, stop sharing that Facebook post, and pray. Pray for our candidates. Pray for our leaders. Pray for our citizens. Pray for our country.
Students, you're in an amazing time in history. We have instant communication with anyone on the planet at the touch of a button. Don't agree with someone's political stance? Don't like what someone said about a certain political figure? *Zing* Your opinion flies through the digital universe and to the other person's screen in a blink of an eye.
But what that screen isn't telling you is that the person on the other end is a real life human, created in the same image of God as you. That political figure that you so despise? Yup, still created in the same image of God as you. And so while it may be a tough pill to swallow, it still means one thing: Democrats & Republicans alike are worthy of your honor.
Honor — [on•er] To show a courteous regard for. To give value to.
Honor is a fascinating concept. When we think of the word "honor," our heads are usually filled with images of bowing to a king, or saying, "Yes sir, and yes ma'am" to our parents. Which makes sense because these are forms of honor. But what about when it comes to a polarizing political figures? How can we honor anyone who we believe is morally bankrupt? How can we honor anyone who supports the people we believe are morally wrong?
Honestly, the answer is more simple than we'd like to think. We honor our authority and each other because it is commanded in Scripture. The Apostle Peter said that in all circumstances, Christians must honor everyone and even the King (1 Peter 2:17). Now obviously in the USA we don't have a King or Queen. But we do have a single authoritative leader of our country – The President of the United States.
So how can you be effective in our Presidential election even when you can't vote? Be an example of someone who honors people (yes, even Presidential Candidates) with your words, with your social media posts, with your conduct, and with your love.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. - 1 Timothy 4:12
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of any Presidential election is facing the reality that God is ultimately in control. But perhaps even more challenging than that are Paul's words in Romans 13:1 –
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Read that again – "And those [authorities] that exist have been instituted by God." How often do we remember that? In the midst of the mud-slinging, in the midst of all the campaign ads on television, in the midst of all the opinions and doomsday posts on Facebook, in the midst of all the frightening political policies a candidate may have, how often do we take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember that God is ultimately in control?
Author and Pastor Max Lucado wrote a brilliant post about this topic, in which he explained:
I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. “The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1 NCV).
So what does all of this mean for you? How do you make a difference even when you can't vote for President?
Be a constant reminder to people that The President of the United States does not hold our hope. God is in control. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Students, you will one day turn 18 and be eligible to vote for President. When that time comes, I pray that you earnestly seek God's wisdom in your choice of candidate and go out and vote.
But don't wait until that day to make a difference. Pray right now for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and every name that holds a political office in our country. Honor people and our Candidates with your words and conduct.
And above all, Trust and thank God that He alone is in control.