Tomorrow is Election Day here in the United States. Our nation has become bitterly divided over a great many issues, including whether or not our chosen candidates are fit for office. We live in uneasy times, but as the Church, we should be the bearers of Good News despite the political turmoil. However, one aspect of the election season I find to be of great distress is when local congregations put their patriotism above their allegiance to the crown of Christ. Yes, as American citizens, we have both the right and the privilege to vote for or against our elected officials. This, along with the freedom protected by our Constitution and Bill of Rights, is a great help to the work of the local church, but we must not forget the fact that we are answerable to a higher authority. Let us remember what the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Romans:
“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.” – Romans 13:1-7 (ESV)
The early church was formed during a time of much less freedom than we enjoy today. Those who followed Jesus as Lord and Savior were often viewed as a threat to the status quo – namely the veneration of the Roman Emperor. The ruler of Rome wanted to be seen as the singular bearer of hope in what was a much more uneasy time than ours. I fear that we today are still apt to fall for the same false sense of hope as the ancient Romans.
What was true then remains true today – no man, woman or institution (apart from Christ Himself) can embody the type of salvific grace that this world so desperately needs. No singular candidate or political party can bring about the change needed within the human heart.
Some of our elected officials serve Christ, and some do not. We must pray for both. If we want to make a real and lasting difference in our local communities and in the world as a whole, then it must begin with us. We are ambassadors of Jesus. We are the ones He sent to represent His interests wherever we are. Our charge has nothing to do with power, money or influence but instead faith, hope and love. One day, this nation will fade away, our homes crumble and our bodies laid to rest, but the crown of Christ will endure forever. Let us not put our hope in anything less than He who died for us.
Let us be in prayer for our nation and our world. When the votes are counted, we must come together in the unity demonstrated to us by the Father, Son and Spirit. As Abraham Lincoln famously quoted from the Good Book, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Matthew 12:25). The divisiveness must end. The vitriol must cease. And love of God and neighbor must reign supreme.