Coming to Terms With Our Exile

Whether we like it or not, Election Day is coming. Soon we will know the outcome of this long political season, and we will all have to come to terms with the leader the people have chosen. This has been a hard election cycle for everyone, and in many ways I wonder how our country (and more importantly the church) will recover from the fighting, the insults, and the hostility over one another’s choices. But regardless of what Tuesday’s results mean for the nation as a whole, they mean something absolutely clear for God’s people—the church.

This is not our home.

Perhaps we’ve been lulled into believing that the freedom and prosperity we experience is because God is smiling down on us, thankful for how Christian we have become as a nation. Perhaps we’ve forgotten that God has no nation, because he’s brought the nations to himself, making us into one church bought by Christ’s blood (Matt. 28:19). Nations rise and fall, we know this from history. The global church stands (Job 12:23; Acts 17:26). This election has shaken all of those notions up. This election has forced us to come to terms with how assimilated we’ve become. I’ll admit; I’ve grown too comfortable. I’ve grown far too trusting in elected officials, failing to pay attention to what they actually believe. Those days are behind us it seems. We are now coming to terms even more with what it means to be exiles in this land.

This election season, as I’ve been reading through the prophets, I’ve been reminded that this exile is not the first one God’s people have experienced. Living in exile has been the posture of God’s people since time began. God’s people have been essentially “homeless”, nomads even, going about our daily lives with a resolute hope that we are seeking a city that is to come (Heb. 13:14). Even as we go about our daily work, building earthly cities and kingdoms through our vocations, we are confronted with the reality that this is not all there is. We have a better home that is coming.  

God will preserve his people living in exile. He’s done it in history past and he will do it again. The church will not be destroyed. Persecuted, maybe. Pruned, probably. But destroyed? Never. We’ve always been in exile, but as the cultural Christianity slips out of our hands, we are now left with what we’ve always been, God’s people living in a foreign land. The temptation in this foreign land is to assimilate, to put our hope in princes, to only see the gloom and doom that awaits us, and at times we have been guilty of this. But like the exiles before us, we know the end of the story.

God wins.

Maybe not in our lifetime, but he will win over sin. It’s fitting that Election Day is leading up to advent, a time where we remember the expectant longing for the Messiah and long for him to come again. Perhaps our comfort, prosperity, and political idolatry has led us to believe that this world is not passing away and that we are not waiting for a better home. But we are. We are longing for our King to return and set up a new heaven and a new earth, not longing for a king to establish his throne in this broken world.

This election is stripping us of every hope we ever had in a candidate and pushing us to trust in the true king, Jesus Christ. Let’s not fight against that this day. Instead let’s lean into this pruning, not in anxious fear over what’s to come, but resolute trust that God will preserve his people, and that he’s still on the throne even after all the ballots are cast.