Things That Will Still Be True After Election Day

Things that will still be true after Election Day. God rules.

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

The Most High rules

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Thoughts on the election

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I don’t think I have said much, if anything, about this year’s presidential election. There have been too many voices carrying on ad nauseam about it, and I figure if I have been sick of it for weeks already, probably most of my readers have as well. Plus I don’t like stirring up controversy, and this election has been the most controversial in my memory.

But there are some things on my heart, and this is my outlet, so I am going to try to lay them out here. Who knows, I may get to the end and then delete it. But I want to take the swirl of different thoughts and try to set them out and examine them one by one.

Most of the blog and social media posts I have seen on election eve have been reminders that no matter who wins the election, God is in control. And that’s true.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Proverbs 21:1

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. Psalm 75:6-7

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Romans 13:1

Some take these truths to mean, “God’s in control so it doesn’t matter what I do or whether I do anything.” While there is a sense in which that’s true, God most often uses means (like prayer to accomplish His purpose or witnessing to bring the gospel to the lost). We can each only do in good conscience what we feel God wants us to do, but we should at least do that: pray about it and then act accordingly. I don’t think God ever intended for us to take no notice of what’s going on in the world and never participate in it because He is in control. Throughout the Bible He calls people to action even while asserting His sovereignty. Sometimes He works in spite of people or without people, but most often He seems to work through people.

I’ve even seen a few saying that since Christians are citizens of heaven and this world is not our home, we don’t even really need to participate in the election process. That, to me, falls in the category of being so “heavenly minded one is of no earthly good” and seems a slap in the face of myriads who fought and died for us to have this privilege. We have this incredible gift to have a legal say in our government, and I can’t understand not using it. I think the above truths apply here as well.

But most of the chatter I have seen has not been along the lines of opting out or disregarding the privilege to vote. It’s been more along the lines of the best way for Christians to use that vote, often fraught with deep disagreement.

My biggest problem with some of the political bantering on social media is the idea that if person A has a different view on things than person B, then B thinks there must be something defective with A’s understanding, reasoning, intelligence, motives, sanity, character, patriotism, Christianity, etc. It’s possible for good people to have very different views on what should be done and how and who should do them.

Almost every election, I’ve heard the phrase going around about choosing the lesser of two evils, meaning neither candidate is ideal. This is the first year I have heard Christians objecting to that. But no candidate is ever going to line up 100% politically and spiritually with how we think. No one like that would make it that far because that’s not how the majority of the country thinks any more. And we differ so much on some of the finer points, we wouldn’t all agree on a candidate like that anyway (that, in fact, is how I believe we ended up with the Republican candidate we have: most Christians I know were splintered between 3 or 4 of the other candidates in the primaries, dividing their votes and resulting in none of them winning). We can’t hold out for the ideal candidate: we have to choose between what we have, rather than wishing for what we don’t have.

There is such a deep divide over the issues and candidates, I fear that whoever wins, the other side will be discontent and continue to complain for months to come, if not until the next election. But once we’ve studied not only the candidates, but the platforms, and prayed, and before God in good conscience made the best choice we know how to make, we have to accept the results.

We need to remember, too, that no president operates in a vacuum. We do still have a voice: we need to be alert and use that voice to let our representatives know our views on issues.

And once it is all over, our response is to be:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV)

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 1 Peter 2:13-17

Those verses have all the more poignancy when we remember the kinds of rulers those writers were under.

In some ways, Christians tend to be more watchful and prayerful when their preferred candidate is not the elected one. Otherwise we tend to sit back and relax and trust everything will go well and forget about it all until the next election. But I do pray for God’s mercy in this, and, as a guest speaker prayed in church yesterday, ask that we’ll get the candidate God knows we need, not what we deserve.

And though I do believe the political process is important, and some are called to participate more than others, ultimately that’s not what helps people’s hearts or brings lasting change. Only the gospel can change hearts; only God and the Bible can change people’s thinking. Doing our part to be informed and vote is vital and necessary: doing our part to share the gospel and make disciples is even more so.

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Praying and voting

Our ultimate hope and need is not in a certain political leader. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:8-9).

Ultimately the only hope for change in a country is in change in the human heart, and that can only be effected by God, not government.

But though our hope is not in leaders, God uses them to accomplish His purposes. We have in this country the privilege of voting for our leaders. Not every country in every time has been able to do this, and I don’t see how we can take this responsibility lightly or ignore it. Neither candidate is my ideal choice, but one clearly edges out the other in the issues of highest importance to me.

So I urge folks to vote their conscience as well as to pray for our country, its leaders, and its people.

Here are a few other thoughts on the election, more thorough and eloquent than mine:

Thinking about the election from a Biblical point of view.

Conscience, Christ, and the ballot box.

Election.

Notes on the election for believers.

A Prayer for America on Election Day. (Mohler)

I am going to vote (Piper).

A prayer for the election (Piper).