Let's react to the election of Barack Obama with three P's: prayer on our lips, peace in our hearts, and perseverance in the face of the challenges he is likely to offer.
First, prayer. We should pray for Barack Obama because the Bible declares that all authority comes from God. The early Christians were supposed to respect even homicidal Roman emperors like Nero: How much more should we respect presidents we have elected? If you're tempted to curse at Obama, read chapter 13 of Romans.
Second, peace. I've noted before how Horatio Spafford lost his four daughters to death by shipwreck in 1873 and then wrote a hymn that still resonates: "When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul." Since God comforted Spafford after his terrible loss, He can certainly comfort those who politically despair. If you're sad or mad, read Psalm 131 and ask God to quiet your soul.
Third, perseverance. America, unlike Rome in the time of the apostles, is still a republic. Early Christians were brave at a time when dissent meant crucifixion, but since we still have freedom of speech under the Constitution, all we need is a willingness to be scorned for Christ and to be shut out from what C.S. Lewis called "the inner ring." At WORLD, we will praise President Obama when he follows biblical principles and criticize him vigorously when he does not. If you're tempted to give up, read chapter 6 of Ephesians and put on the whole armor of God.
One note: Some conservatives are saying, "The worse, the better," in the assumption that Obama radicalism will provoke a reaction that pushes people to the right. But "the worse, the better" is a Leninist concept, not a Christian one. It is belied by history. We should wish Obama success because he will be successful only if he governs from the center, not from the left. In any event, the sky is not falling, because God is holding it up.
Let's also react to the Obama victory with plans to rebuild over the next four years an alliance between evangelicals and fiscal conservatives by emphasizing three C's—community, civil society, and compassion—that could bring back into the fold young evangelicals likely to learn the limitations of Obama.