I’m teaching the Christian Fellowship School seniors about worldview and culture, and we’ve been talking about the significance of stories in our lives. I’ve been trying to help them see that we all live out of a dominant narrative that provides meaning and gives shape to our lives. The story we live by forms the way we think, what we value and believe, and how we view the world and our place in it.
The reason we’re shaped by story is because all of reality really is a story. God is the great story-teller, and his story unfolds in the pages of Scripture and in history. It’s a story that, if we think of it in terms of the acts of a play, can be summarized under the headings of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and New Creation. This story is meant to give meaning and shape to our lives and to how we view everything else. It answers the big questions of life and provides direction and shape to our existence.
- Creation (my purpose): Who we are? Why are we here? Where do we find our purpose, significance, and meaning?
- Fall (my problem): What is wrong with the world? What is the big problem that needs to be solved? Why is there brokenness and pain and suffering?
- Redemption (my solution): What is the answer to the big problem?
- New Creation (my hope): What will it look like when everything is made right? What state of affairs will bring ultimate meaning and satisfaction?
God’s story, which unfolds in Scripture, provides the lens for understanding our lives and our place in the world. But there are plenty of rival stories, alternate explanations for the reality we experience.
Take the election, for example. There’s a narrative—a story—embedded in our political structures. It’s a story that takes a similar shape, but often distorts, the true story of God. It goes something like this:
- Creation (our purpose): we’re made for human flourishing, for life to be better, for our country to prosper, and so on.
- Fall (our problem): the problem is the wrong political party, the wrong president or senators or leaders, the wrong political philosophy or agenda; the problem is the economy, or morality, or socialism, or capitalism, or liberalism, or conservativism.
- Redemption (our solution): the answer to our problem is different leaders, the right political party in power, a different political agenda, a new direction for our country, a presidential “savior” to lead us out of this mess into a brighter future.
- New Creation (our hope): a flourishing America with abundance and prosperity and an elimination of all our problems (whatever we perceive them to be)—political leaders and political parties that will move us closer to the utopian society we long for and think could be within our grasp if the right people or party was in power.
Now we may not always be aware of that narrative shaping us, but when we find ourselves either filled with hope because things went the way we wanted in an election, or when we find ourselves despairing if they don’t, it can be a sign that we’ve lost sight of the true story we’re a part of.
It’s not that elections and politics don’t matter. They do. Real people are affected by policies and decisions made by our leaders. They’re not unimportant.
But living by the true story—God’s story—reminds us that our hope is not in our government or our political leaders. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, the true King, whose government, Isaiah says, will grow and bring the peace we long for, whose rule will bring justice and righteousness forevermore (Isaiah 9:7). Our hope is not in earthly kings and kingdoms, but in Christ alone. His “kingdom come on earth as in heaven” when he returns is what all our longings for good rulers and for justice and for flourishing are really about.
It’s right that we want good leaders, just rulers, and lives of peace and flourishing. But this side of the New Heaven and New Earth, these things only come in small measure through the powers that be in this world. And they always come imperfectly. Every solution tends to bring its own set of problems. But one day that will all give way to the kingship of Jesus expressed everywhere, in everything. As the church, we get to bear witness to that hope, and to that Kingdom, and to our King.
I’m writing this blog prior to Tuesday’s election, the day after President Trump’s visit to Columbia. And you’re reading it after the results of the election are already in. Regardless of what happened, the truth stands. Christ is Lord. He is committed to bringing justice and righteousness and peace, and to making all things new (Rev 21:5). It’s what he died for. It’s what he lives for.
Let’s pray for our leaders. And let’s put our hope in the Lamb who was slain now enthroned forever (Rev 5:11-13) and pray for his Kingdom to come on earth as in heaven. In light of the true story we’re a part of, the election matters, it just doesn’t matter that much.