Thinking Biblically | Election 2016
Thinking Biblically | Elections 2016
It is election season, and many are taking a profound interest in who will serve as the next President of the United States. The American electorate is impassioned about real issues related to healthcare, national security, budget deficits, abortion, marriage, job growth, free speech, immigration, foreign trade, and Islamic terrorism. Candidates are on the campaign trail fervently seeking votes. News pundits and political pollsters are working around the clock. The current political process is a national spectacle that is both interesting and entertaining. But how, as Christians, should we think and behave during the election season?
TRUST IN GOD
The first thing that believers must do during the election season is trust in God and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (c.f. Heb. 12:1-3). We must never put our hope and trust in politics, politicians, legislation, or military might. These things will never meet our deepest needs. Their promises will always disappoint. They are incapable of solving our most significant problems. Only God, through faith in Jesus Christ, will give us what we truly need–– saving grace, forgiveness, peace with God, and eternal life.
Trusting God also includes remembering His divine sovereignty over earthly kingdoms (Ps. 115:3). He is the King of kings (Ps. 29:10; I Tim. 6:15-16). Presidents, Kings, Emperors, and Prime Ministers rise and fall according to God’s eternal decrees and mysterious providence (e.g. Daniel 4; Rom. 9:17). He is the LORD. He does what He pleases. He works all things together for His glory and the ultimate good of His people (Rom. 8:28). Nothing happens apart from the invisible hand of God. Paul reminds us that “He works all things according to the counsel of his will.” The all things includes politics and presidents. “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1).
Trusting in God’s sovereignty, however, never encourages passivity or ignorance on our part. Any such teaching is a gross distortion of the truth. God’s sovereign grace and rule compel us to obey His commands, to be faithful and active citizens in God’s two kingdoms–– the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man (Phil. 2:12-13; Rom. 12:1-3; I Pet. 2:13-17 Titus 3:1; I Thess. 4:11). While we give our primary allegiance and loyalty to the kingdom of God as citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20; Acts 5:29), we are also called to be good citizens of the kingdom of this world (Matt. 22:17-21, I Pet. 2:17; I Tim. 2:1). Therefore, let us trust in God as this election year unfolds, and let us also be good and responsible citizens.
Prayer is the fruit of trust in God. It’s faith in action–– the evidence that we believe in a sovereign and omnipotent God. Prayer is a vital means through which our heavenly Father works out his will. Therefore, shouldn’t prayer be central in our approach to the election season? The Bible commands us to make “prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (I Tim. 2:1-2). Beloved Christ Church, when it comes to politics we need to complain less and pray more. Perhaps if we prayed a little more and whined a little less there would be better days ahead in Washington. God answers our prayers. Let us ask, seek, and knock more often (Matt. 7:7).
Humility in politics is as rare as snow in Charleston. You just don’t see it much. Due in part to our soundbite culture, candidates often communicate their opinions in a brash, overly-confident, and unnuanced manner. Those declared the winners of debates often express more heat than light, more pathos than ethos. Humility is viewed as weakness. Conceit and narcissism are viewed as marks of strength. But it’s not only the candidates who lack humility. We, the electorate, could also use a piece of humble pie. I’m certainly not opposed to vigorous and robust debate. There are significant problems that must be solved. There are positions worth fighting for. But mischaracterizations and mudslinging are hardly necessary. Furthermore, as Christians, we are called to an higher standard. We are not given a free pass to act prideful and uncharitably during election season. Even with strong and passionate political views, we are called to “put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col. 3:12).
Therefore, Christ Church, during this election season, let us not get swept up into the vitriolic rhetoric and ungodly attitudes of the culture. Rather, even as we seek to be well-informed and politically engaged as good citizens, let us trust God, pray hard, and demonstrate a heart of sincere humility.