So tonight we had a guest preacher - Tim Wenger from Switzerland. You can hear his message here. But he reminded me of a passage of scripture I hadn't thought about for some time. In case you've forgotten as well, I'm just going to put it here without much comment. Just know that the life of the man who wrote it was not all roses. In fact, he had some serious questions about what was happening in his world. But he can still affirm this. I hope you can as well.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
Here are a few thoughts following up on the election. I am indebted to Al Mohler, Tom Chantry, and David Wesner (and others) for some of these thoughts. A qualifier: I am sad and disappointed today. I may have been less so, had the election gone another way, but we don’t know what the alternative would have brought. My disappointment with the outcome is largely based on the fact that there is a track record here that doesn't give much reason for optimism regarding the future. The alternative, however, was certainly not ideal.
1. Given the state of our nation, one might be surprised that our country would vote for 4 more years in of the same in the White House and at least 2 more years in the Senate. But given the state of the nation – moral decay, proud of our sin, laziness, calling evil good, perhaps we should not be surprised. As Al Mohler said in a pre-election post, “Democratic systems inevitably reflect the electorate’s decisions, and these decisions reveal underlying worldviews. And, truth be told, all we can expect from democracy is the government we deserve.” I guess the surprise comes in that perhaps we hoped the American people would get so fed up, they would act. But perhaps we misjudged the American people; perhaps we don’t realize the depth of the sin and depravity and spiritual blindness that are rampant in our nation.
2. Pray for your leaders. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all the 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.” Our goal as Christians should be to live peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified lives. One way we do this is by praying for our leaders. You may not like some of the election outcomes, but I urge you to pray for those people that we have elected. Pray for their salvation; pray for wisdom; pray that they would make decisions that would enable us to live this kind of life; pray that they would not promote evil; pray that God would restrain their efforts where they do promote evil. But pray! It seems it’s getting harder to live a peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified life in our country. And so by all means, mourn what’s happening in our nation; mourn that we have leaders that do not do what is right. It is ok to feel anguish and distress and disappointment at the state of our nation. Jesus mourned over unrepentant Jerusalem. But don’t stop with prayer and mourning. If you are concerned about the state of our nation, then go live for Christ in this nation. Be salt and light; point people to the Savior, Jesus. Proclaim the good news of the gospel; tell others where they can hear it proclaimed; bring them to church with you. If you want the nation to change; people have to change. And only God can do that; tell them about that God. Politicians and government are not the answer and neither should we hang our hope upon them. Jesus is the answer to men’s sin problem, and our problem in this country is largely a moral, sin problem. That means we have everything we need to address it head on. Give them the truth!
3. Honor the King. Romans 13:1 “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.” 1 Pet. 2:17 “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” This does not mean you have to agree with their policies and practices, but the cause of Christ won't be well served by harsh, dishonoring vitriol spewed at those in office.
4. Rest in the wisdom and sovereignty of the wise Creator who made and sustains his creation, in whose hand is the heart of the king (and the hearts of the people who elected the king), who is never surprised, and does all things well. (Too many references to list, but Nehemiah 9:6; Lamentations 3:37; and Psalm 33:10-11 are a good start.)
5. This world ain't my home, I'm just a passin' through. We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven forever; citizens of the United States of America for a comparatively short time. What are you living for? (Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 1:17; 2:11).
I have intentionally remained silent online regarding the election. My position as a minister of the gospel, I believe, requires careful use of words and influence. And I don't want anyone to mistake a facebook post or comment or tweet for the official position of the church or as authoritative as the preached word. (Other preachers do not take this approach, and that is fine!) I also don't want my opinions to be the cause of division or rancor where good and godly brothers and sisters may disagree. It is my duty as a preacher to proclaim the word of God. Now outside of preaching and the worship service I can certainly address and offer opinions other areas that are not explicitly addressed in Scripture.
My reason for this post is my desire for our church family (and anyone else who happens to read this) to have some scriptural framework within which to think about the election coming up (or any election for that matter). God calls us to live in this world (John 17), to be salt and light (Matthew 5), to pray for people in high positions that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1 Timothy 2), to be subject to the governing authorities (which are from God!, Romans 13, Titus 3, 1 Peter 2), and to honor the king (1 Peter 2). The picture that emerges is that God's people are to be active in combating evil, promoting good, obeying and praying for their leaders within their societies. Surely election time should be an active time at least in the prayer closet of Christians! Surely we desire to see those elected who will honor God in the way they lead. We desire governing authorities who will not promote evil, call evil good, or facilitate those who carry out evil deeds. So during an election, learn about the local, state, and national candidates and vote accordingly. From what we can tell, who will provide Christians with the most conducive society to lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way? Who will promote and not restrict our ability to practice our Christianity?
The other Biblical perspective we must bring is that of the Sovereign King of the universe sitting on his throne. Whoever is elected, they are placed into that position by God. Part of Romans 13:1 says "For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." With the faithful God who makes no mistakes on the throne, his people need not fear. Don't forget everything I said in the previous paragraph. We are responsible for our actions in this world. And whoever takes office will be responsible for their actions, whether good or evil. But over all, God is directing and ordering the affairs of the world, the nations that make it up, and the individuals who populate those nations. This should give great peace to all who claim the name of Christ. God has given him as head over all things to the church. So while the church has a significant interest in the outcome of elections, she also needs not wring her hands in worry. Because for the Christian our hope is not in a president or some other politician, but in Christ who is surely coming again and WILL deliver his people safely into that new heavens and new earth where we will dwell for all eternity. Jesus is our hope and trust; that cannot change regardless of which candidates are victorious on election day.
Some miscellaneous musings from Pastor Aaron.
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.
All rights reserved.