On Tuesday during the US election I went to the zoo.
It seemed appropriate. Also, it was a good way to not spend the day glued to my phone to see the results, as though obsessing all day long could hurry them up.
Like many Canadians, I cared about the results of this particular election. For me it goes beyond knowing that what happens in the United States will have some effect on us; it’s also that I genuinely love the US and its people. My dad is American, and I lived in the States for several years as a minor. I care deeply about what happens south of the border.
When I woke up on Wednesday and checked the results, I was surprised.
I think I would have been surprised no matter what, honestly—this election was just so crazy.
But I wanted to share with you two Scriptures that I think pertain to this whole season we’re in.
The Power of “Neither”
The first is Joshua 5:13–15. The scene is that Joshua is about to lead the people of Israel against Jericho (the whole “march around the city seven times and the walls will fall down” thing). He looks up and sees a man standing in his way with a drawn sword in his hand.
Naturally, Joshua’s first question is, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
But the answer is the last thing he expects: the “man” answers, “Neither. But as commander of the LORD’s hosts I am now come.”
The Angel of the Lord (whom many commentators believe was Jesus) tells Joshua to take off his shoes, for the ground where he stands is holy.
The night before the election as I prayed for the US, this story came to mind. It’s a reminder that although we live in a world where politics are important, and though we play a role in them, ultimately our allegiance is to God and not his to us.
In other words, God is not a Republican, and he’s not a Democrat. He doesn’t have a party. His interests transcend every political platform. God is not on my side or your side. God is his own side.
As citizens of the kingdom of God (the word church, Greek ekklesia, means a body of citizens), we need to remember that the answer to “Whose side are you on, God?” is “Neither.”
For us, that should be recalibrating and empowering.
We may vote, lobby, and legislate on the world’s turf, but as Christians we ultimately live on holy ground, and we need to get our marching orders—not least among which are the call to love (even our enemies) and pray—from there. We are people and therefore political, but we are also the people of God and therefore live and work for a higher kingdom.
Stand Your Post
I also wanted to share with you Nehemiah 6. In this story, Nehemiah is hard at work doing what God has called him to do (rebuilding Jerusalem) when his enemies start to push him to change course.
First they just invite him to come meet with them. He writes back and says, “I’m doing an important work; why I should leave it to come and talk to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3).
Then they get pushier, sending him letters that outright threaten to lie about him to the emperor and get his whole work shut down—and probably his head taken off for treason. They get to his friends and even start to send messages through God’s prophets, all designed to knock Nehemiah out of focus and get him responding to them instead of standing his post.
Thankfully, Nehemiah had the discernment to recognize all of this as empty intimidation. He refused to play the game. Even though the threats were potent and frightening, he simply kept going and asked God to strengthen his hand in the work he’d been called to do (Nehemiah 6:8–9).
Here’s how the HSCB puts it:
Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.” For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, “They will become discouraged in the work, and it will never be finished.” But now, my God, strengthen me.
In times of upheaval, I think it’s easy for us to get intimidated and feel that we need to drop what we’re doing and respond to the urgent-feeling threats around us. We can get knocked out of our prayer focuses, out of our ministry focuses, out of our work. We can get overwhelmed with fear or negative expectations, allowing intimidation to get our eyes off God and onto our enemies instead.
This story was strongly on my heart just before election day as I prayed for the US and for all of us in North America.
I felt that it was key for us all to know what God is calling us to and to keep our focus and our forward momentum in that area.
(For example, many Christians only the last few months committed themselves to praying for revival and awakening in North America. Whether you see the outcome of this election as a setback or a boost, let us not drop that commitment now that the pressure points have changed!)
No matter how things shape up in the coming days and months, we need to stand against intimidation and recommit ourselves to doing the work God has given us, whatever that may be.
Most threats are empty. God’s answer to “whose side” is “Neither.” Kingdom purposes and kingdom work transcend what’s going on this earthly realm. I hope that’s an encouragement to you today.