A Cliff-Hanger Election

  As I record this broadcast, it's nearly midnight, EST, on Tuesday [Nov. 7, 2000]. I feel a little bit like the people at The Chicago Tribune in 1948, who sent the paper to print with the now infamous headline "Dewey Wins." You may remember that President Truman held that headline high for one of the most famous photos of the twentieth century. You see, at this very moment, it is unclear who will be the next president. And it could stay unclear for days, since absentee ballots have yet to be counted in many states. It's an amazing cliff-hanger election. And most of us are going to wake up tomorrow morning very tired from having sat in front of the television late into the night. So I'll make no predictions. But I do have some things that I would like to communicate to the BreakPoint audience. Whichever way things turn out, some people will be joyous, and some people will be dismayed. But one thing is absolutely clear. It should not alter in the slightest the course that we, as Christians, follow in our society. One of my friends wrote me recently after a particularly discouraging situation and said, "Chuck, just remember. We have enlisted for the duration in service to the truth." I love that! As a matter of fact, I'm having that plaque made up and put in my office in Washington, alongside the one from Mother Teresa that says, "Faithfulness, not Success." What we need to remember is, if you're disappointed in the election results when they're finally clear, that's understandable. All of us have our partisan choices. Maybe you'll be jubilant over them. If so, you're going to think, "Well, the culture war's been won." And if you're discouraged over the results, you'll think, "The culture war's been lost." Nonsense! Cultures are changed from the bottom up. Fads start from the top down. Movements start from the bottom up. Remember when de Tocqueville came to this country -- the French statesman who wrote so brilliantly about American life and talked about our churches being on fire and about the peculiar characteristics of American life -- he said that Americans really had a sense of civic duty and civic responsibility. Tocqueville said that what moves America are the "habits of the heart." He was absolutely right! This is the genius of America. We are moved by the tastes and dispositions of the people. We're moved by the way we live with our neighbors around us. People need to see something better, something that they can long for in our lives. That isn't affected by elections. They're not going to look to Washington for that, they're going to look to us. So we keep living in biblical faithfulness. And remember, too, that God appoints the leaders. And that whatever happens in the election that's now being tallied, we have to accept God's sovereign judgment. We have to pray for those in authority. We have to respect those whom God has put in power over us, and live peaceably in the midst of whatever government we have. The first century church had to do that; the twenty-first century church ought to be doing exactly the same thing. Don't be overly jubilant, but don't despair. Take a cool-headed perspective and keep your Christian faith and your Christian witness strong. God bless you.


Chuck Colson


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