An overwhelming 75% majority of Evangelical Christians supported Donald Trump’s 2020 bid for reelection. As high as that number is, it is actually down from 81% in 2016. That 6% decline may have been the difference in his loss to Joe Biden for the presidency. Be that as it may, the point is that many Christians are disappointed with the results of this year’s historic election. Combine this with the rampant misinformation on social media regarding alleged fraud and one is left with a powder keg of emotions. Christians, however, have a higher citizenship which they should never neglect and a higher calling which they should ever live up to. Regardless of who won, the truth is that Jesus Christ is seated “at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3). As the King’s people we must be mindful of the Name of the King. We must be careful that we do not bring shame and blasphemy upon His Name. We must be mindful to bear proper testimony to the Law of our King. With all of the rancor I have heard and seen, perhaps this is an opportune moment to remind my fellow Christians of the high calling to which we are called, especially as it relates to our responsibility toward earthly governments such as our own.
Let’s briefly take a tour through the New Testament. First and foremost, we must heed the warning of the Lord Jesus who said, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” (Mk 8:15). I believe the leaven of Herod in this verse refers to the 1st century Jewish political faction of the Herodians. Thus, I believe Jesus was warning His disciples of the dangers of politics. In other words, beware of political leaven! This is not to say politics does not have its place, but that we must be sure it remains in its place. Our ultimate purpose must always be the glory of God and the Gospel of Christ. Our priority, therefore, is to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mt 6:33).
Second, Paul makes this declaration concerning human government: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Rom 13:1-3). Notice and underscore that government officials are “appointed by God.” This is reminiscent of Daniel who praised the power of the Lord who both “removes kings and raises up kings” (Dn 2:21). There is no king and no president who has ever ruled or governed outside of God’s providence, for truly “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov 21:1).
Third, when Paul was encouraging his son in the faith, he told Timothy, “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” (1 Tm 2:1-3). There are other points to be made here, but before we address them let us confront the will of God for His people: It is proper in God’s sight that we pray for our government leaders. Peter reminds us of the same when he says, “honor the king” (1 Pt 2:17) or, as we might say, “honor the president.”
Fourth, and in our heated political atmosphere this may be the most important, Christians are to be respectful toward civil authorities. Both Peter and Jude employ the strongest of language toward those who would speak evil of those in authority, identifying as wicked and unjust those who “despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries” (2 Pt 2:10). Jude reflects the same sentiment, condemning those who “reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries” (Jd 8). He makes the incredible point that Michael the archangel would not even bring a reviling accusation against the devil himself (v 9)! This brings an important context to this discussion, namely that Christians should honor their leaders and pray for them even if the leaders are ungodly. Peter wrote under the administration of Nero, who by all accounts was a wicked man; but that did not, in Peter’s estimation, give God’s people the right to disparage his authority. If anything, it was a greater reason to pray and to live as a witness to Christ. In the darkest moments one’s Christian testimony must shine brightest.
As Americans we have a proud heritage, and much of that heritage involves our Christian religion. For this reason, it can be extremely difficult for us to separate our patriotism form our faith. But this we must do. Our Christian citizenship must take precedence over our American citizenship. We must be Christians before we are Americans. Only then will we be the kind of citizens Christ would have us to be. Listen to what the apostle shared with God’s people long ago, and may it be as relevant to us today as Americans as it was to them as Romans: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col 3:1-2). Paul goes on to say something that I think is apropos in this moment of tension, fear, and mistrust: “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” (v 8). Moreover, he reminds Christians how they are expected to behave: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering…but above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts…and whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (v 12-17).
How can we be thankful when we are fearful and upset about our government, or anything else for that matter? By remembering that God is sovereign, Jesus Christ reigns, and that our ultimate allegiance is to Him.
In : Politics
Tags: "2020 election" "trump v biden" "god's people" "christian love" "the sovereignty of god"
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