On a regular basis, we will have posts here from one of our Elders. This week’s post is from Jason Woodard.
With mid-term elections nearing and amidst an ever-increasing divisive dialogue in US politics, it is important that as followers of Christ we remind ourselves where we stand in relation to the political system. It is easy and all too common for the American Christian to combine patriotism, “their party”, and Christianity. However, the truth is we are not of this world. When speaking to Pilate about His who He is, Jesus 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). When writing to the church in Philippi, Paul reminded them that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savoir, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21). We are to be in the world and not of it. Our loyalty and alliance is to Christ, which is infinitely greater and far above this world and its systems.
Let us also remember that we serve the Sovereign God. He removes kings and sets up kings (Daniel 2:20-21). “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, He turns it wherever He will” (Proverbs 21:1). Paul writes in Romans 13:1, “there is no authority except from God and those that exist have been instituted by God.” The Psalmist wrote, “for kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28). As believers, we should have peace no matter who is in authority. Too often, we become filled with fear and anxiety over the political process, as if the “wrong” person is elected, all the plans of God will be thwarted. It is good and right for us to pray that God places people in authority who will rule with Biblical principles because, “when the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2). But we must also remember that God uses evil governments to do His will (Jeremiah 25:8-9 and Acts 4:27-28). Through it all, God is sovereign and we are His. He is our protector and savior, not the government.
As we journey through this life as pilgrims, it is clear from Scripture that we are to be obedient to governing authorities and we are commanded to pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Paul wrote this letter to his disciple Timothy after he had be in prison and shortly before he was executed – by the government. Nero was ruling when Paul wrote this letter. When we are commanded to pray for those in authority and we find it difficult to do so, due to their principles, moral failings, or political party, we must remember that Paul wrote that inspired letter during a time when Christians were being brutally persecuted and Paul himself was being targeted and eventually killed. We have never come close to this kind of persecution and so it is far easier for us to follow the command to lift our leaders (all of them) up before the Lord in prayer, than it was for Paul. I too struggle with this but am convicted to obey the Lord.
We are blessed to live in a nation where we have the right and freedom to vote. As believers, we have a voice in the political process. And we know God has called and placed believers to work within the political system. Our responsibility is to understand who is running for office and to be good stewards of our vote. We need to pray for those who are and who will be placed into office. But let us not fret over the results. Those are in the hands of our Lord and King, who has all things under His control to work out His good plan. “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). Amen.