Vitriol and mud-slinging are not new to politics, but the last two presidential elections have been the worst in my memory. Emotions and tension are high on both sides.
But no matter what the outcome is on Tuesday, several things will still be true.
God reigns. “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne” (Psalm 47:8). Our church has read through large chunks of the Old Testament over the last year. No matter who was in charge of what earthly kingdom, God was always at work, sometimes overtly, sometimes “behind the scenes.” “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).
This doesn’t mean we don’t vote. God often uses means and circumstances, and voting is the means by which rulers are elected here
Authorities come from God, even when they are not godly, even when we don’t agree with everything they do.
For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1b-2)
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. (Daniel 2:21)
The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men. (Daniel 4:17b)
We’re responsible to pray. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
We’re to respect our leaders. Peter instructed, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” 1 Peter 2:17). He wrote that, inspired by the Holy Spirit, when one of the worst rulers ever was on the throne: Nero. That doesn’t mean he obeyed authorities who told him not to do what God told him to do. That doesn’t mean we never speak up when a ruler is in the wrong: John the Baptist did, as did Daniel and many of the OT prophets (though they also faced consequences for speaking out and disobeying). Paul said the same thing: “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7), echoing what Jesus said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).
We’re to be subject to authorities. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:13-15). The only exception is when the government tells us to do something wrong. The Hebrew midwives didn’t kill Jewish babies as instructed. The disciples still preached in the name of Jesus when told not to. People hid and helped Jews during WWII. People still printed Bibles behind the Iron Curtain.
Our responsibilities are not over. Very early in my first voting forays, some people seemed to breathe a sigh of relief and then sit back when their candidate was elected, as if to say, “Whew! That’s done. We’re okay for four more years.” But, we still need to be aware and use the voice we have, because . . .
No ruler is perfect. Some are better than others, but we can’t put our total hope in any of them. They may not see all sides of an issue or may be getting bad advice, so it’s important to be aware of issues and communicate our concerns and preferences.
We still have a voice. In this country, we have the right and responsibility to let our voice be heard, to vote, to write our representatives. No ruler has carte blanche.
Government can’t meet all our needs. It was never meant to. It has taken on responsibilities the church and others are supposed to bear. And while we need it to do what it’s designed for, ultimately our hope is in God. “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever” (Psalm 146:3-6).
God’s promises are still true. He has promised to supply our needs, answer prayer, never leave us or forsake us. God’s power and wisdom and love are not limited by earthly rulers.
I have preferences, hopes, and fears for this election. I know God doesn’t always answer prayer the way we think is best, but I am sure hoping He does this time. I’m praying, and I’ve voted. My responsibilities are the same: pray, trust, do His will moment by moment, love my neighbor, let my light shine. But ultimately, He is on the throne working out His perfect will. My hope is in Him.
This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!
Maltbie D. Babcock, This Is My Father’s World
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Hearth and Soul, Senior Salon, Remember Me Monday, Tell His Story, Purposeful Faith, InstaEncouragement, Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement), Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)