Yesterday, November 6, 2012, was election day in America. Two major party candidates, incumbent President, Barack Obama and challenger, Mitt Romney, waited for the results as the American people cast their votes. In the end, President Obama retained his office for another four years. Today, a great many Christians, greatly dismayed by the election results, are asking themselves, “Now what?”
From the moment I saw the results come in, I observed just about every possible response on social media. Some expressed outrage, others denied Mr. Obama would ever be their president, some half-jokingly talked of joining Texas in a secession from the Union. Yet, some remembered the scriptures and God’s sovereignty, “Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings…” (Daniel 2:20-21a).” There are no powers and authorities in this world that God has not established. Some He sets up for a blessing, some He establishes in judgment. But all are set in power for God’s glory alone.
The reason I write this is to encourage and remind the brethren that our hope is not in the governments and powers of this world, but in the King is the true power and authority over all things. When Jesus stood before Pilate, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world,” (John 18:36). Jesus established at that time that we are not to seek deliverance in worldly authority, but in Him alone. Therefore, our joy is not contingent on which candidate is elected, it is in the One who rules over us eternally. We do not find peace in presidents, congressman and governors, but in the One who willingly allowed those earthly authorities to crucify Him on our behalf.
Knowing this, we can read and submit to Romans 13: 1-7, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. 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. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very 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.” We submit, not because we believe in all the party platforms of the person in authority. We submit, because we honor the Lord who saved us and placed that person in power.
Now before everyone thinks I am suggesting that means we should just bow before every unjust ruling the government enforces, I am not advocating some sort of weak kneed, wishy-washy pacivity. Remember that when commanded by the Sanhedrin to cease preaching the name of Christ, Peter and John said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard,” (Acts 4:19-20). When it came to obeying the commands of God, specifically in this case, the preaching of the gospel, the apostles understood, their obedience to the Lord superseded man’s authority. No earthly authority can command us to disobey the express commands of our Lord and Savior. If and when we are commanded to cease serving and obeying the Lord, then we may stand in opposition to earthly authorities.
This also does not mean that we stand idly by while we watch the authorities God has established abuse their power by promoting immoral and sinful laws. When we see the propagation of laws allowing for the wanton murder of children through abortion, or when we see the religious institution of marriage profaned through promotion of state recognized homosexual unions, we should stand up proclaiming “Thus saith the Lord…” in opposition to them. We should call our representatives and demand they honor the commands of God. We should file suit when unjust laws are passed. We should work within the God ordained governmental system to bring righteous laws into place. However, our hope is NOT in the establishment of those laws, it is in the One who established the system itself. We honor Him when we work peaceably within the system, rather than in rebelliousness or talk of secession.
So if our hope is not within the system, but in the Lord, what do we do? In 1 Timothy 2:1-3, we read, “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. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior…” In other words, we need to be in continual prayer for those in authority over us, that they would come to repentance and faith in Christ, that God would grant them wisdom in their decisions and that they would honor God in their deeds. Also, we need to be about the preaching of the gospel to all we meet. Our hope for a country that is righteous and honoring to God is not in elected officials, but in the hearts that are changed through the power of the gospel. Only God can regenerate a sin hardened heart. Only by someone being made a new creation, with a heart inclined to obey God, will men and women desire to live in a culture that is free from immorality and decadence. While we do not preach the gospel to make culture better, but to save souls, a by product of regenerated hearts is a culture that begins to honor the Lord.
My encouragement to those who read this is to remember that our hope is not in who did or did not get elected last night. Our hope is in the sovereign Lord who saved us. Seek to honor and obey Him above all.