November 5, 2018
Everyone is aware that Tuesday is election day and gratefully, all the campaigning and advertising will be over for a couple of more years. Whatever the outcome of the election there is always a level of frustration after an election, over the entire political process. Some even say that they see so much hypocrisy in the candidates and the process that they won’t be a part of it any more. But as believers I would like to submit, and remind us, that as followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to participate in the elections of our country. Christ followers cannot allow the process to overcome the responsibility that we have to participate in a free election and influence how our government will operate.
While most Christians recognize their responsibility as a citizen to vote, I often wonder, do Christians actually understand God’s role in the outcome of our elections. I believe that according to God’s Word, He controls the election of the people who serve in government. Maybe you have never considered God’s role in the processes of elections and governments of nations, but I believe that according to God’s Word He has been involved in the affairs of government from the beginning. Maybe our problem as Christians is that we somehow believe that some political candidates, because of their religious affiliation or their stand on a particular moral issue, are favored by God. Maybe we compound our problem with government by the false expectation that the individuals we vote for are necessary in order that God’s will can be accomplished. But I say, that is none of this so. God is neither intimidated or exhilarated by one candidate or another. In fact, God will accomplish His purposes and His will, no matter which candidates win.
If anyone has trouble with the idea that God controls the outcome of elections, they should listen to these verses in scripture which apply to this concept. In Romans 13:1-2. “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have all been placed there by God.” I Peter 13:13-14 says, “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.” The Bible even references our responsibility to pay taxes and support government. “And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” Matthew 22:20-12. “For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing,” Romans 13:6. It seems evident that God gives believers the responsibility to honor our governing processes and that He gives elected official the authority to govern, and yes, the Bible says He places them in their place of authority.
Now I understand that in America voting is the process by which we elect government officials, but according to God’s Word it is God alone who actually gives elected officials the power to govern in their elected position. It is us who have problems with the results, not God. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.”
One of America’s Founding Fathers, who was also an educator, Noah Webster, said this about government and how our country would best function if biblical values were the basis for our laws. He said, “The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from the despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”
John Stonestreet, host of the Colson Center’ Breakpoint broadcast, spoke about politics and our responsibilities as believers. He said, “Finally, we must avoid what the French thinker Jacques Ellul called “the political illusion.” Politics, as has been often noted, is most often “downstream” of culture. If we focus on politics while ignoring the larger cultural shifts that drive political decisions, we will find political victories to be temporary at best. Our efforts for the public good must take seriously politics, as well as all else that shapes our society. We are Christians. We are Americans. Now, as ever, passivity is not an option for the church of Jesus Christ. “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer. “God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
God will direct every public official elected this election cycle as He pleases, no matter what the office he or she is elected too. Whoever takes an oath of office will not be able to accomplish, nor prevent, a single task, unless God causes or allows it. Every elected politician, whether he or she acknowledges it or not, is subject to the authority of God. So we should not be unduly upset if the candidates we support lose, nor too excited if they win. As a Christian we should accept God’s sovereign choice. Our focus should be on obeying God by promoting characteristics in our community and our nation which reflect His Word. There is no better way for us to accomplish this than by demonstrating a spirit of obedience to God in our daily lives. Differences in an election will heal more quickly if we act in a Christ like manner toward those who oppose our views, as well as those who support them. If we have an attitude of reconciliation as believers, we will worry less about which candidate was elected and worry more about serving the One who gives the authority to all those who are elected.