Well it’s another election cycle and once again the political rhetoric is heating up like a pot of boiling water and the talking points are sharp like arrows dipped in deadly poison ready to be unleashed on the enemy. During my time in ministry I have noticed a trend in the church (yes, even in my church) that is unsettling to me. It seems that election time brings out the worst in people who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have witnessed relationships grow cold and/or die, wars of words in different social media forums, and other un-Christlike behavior all within the community of faith.
What is it that causes us to behave in such a manner?
I believe that the root of this issue is a lack of understanding concerning the sovereignty of God. We behave as if the work of creation’s redemption is totally up to us and we have to mobilize politically in order to bring about the restoration of all things. We behave as if God is not sovereign, that there is no redemptive plan, and if there is, he really needs our help and wisdom in order to pull it off. Sounds absurd, right? If we’re honest, the big idea that has shaped way too many thought processes is that if we just had the right person in the White House and the right party in control, then we could stop the downfall of America and turn things around. This is nothing more than humanism with a Christian veneer. Christians are being swept up in the movements to either take America back or to fundamentally change America. It has gotten so bad that some people believe that your party affiliation is what actually gives credence to your faith. After all, Jesus is a small government, socially conservative, fiscally conservative, Republican, right? Or is he a big government, socially liberal, left-leaning Democrat? Sadly, it all depends on who you ask these days.
Does God’s word show us a better way?
The Scriptures teach plainly from beginning to end that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and he is faithful in his redemptive work to bring about his purposes and plans for his glory. He cannot and will not be contained or constrained by our man-made political structures and classifications. When we do not live under the peaceful and comforting reality of God’s sovereignty, our only other alternative is to look to something or someone else besides him for salvation and security. This idolatrous endeavor takes our devotion away from the one true God and it takes our attention away from the ministry of the gospel. Our hearts stir anxiously as we await election results as if there is no one who sits enthroned in the heavens.
I am not saying that we should not fulfill our civic duties as citizens by voting according to biblical values. I am not saying that we should not speak out on important issues such as the sanctity and dignity of all human life. What I am saying is that we should participate in the civic process based on the understanding that our God rules and reign over all things, that he is the creator and sustainer of the universe, that he has decreed, and that he will fulfill all that he has spoken. We can’t approach the political process as if we don’t know how the story of redemption plays out. There are people pushing harmful agendas and there are very real threats that exist in the world, but the second Psalm teaches us that when the infinite all-wise God sees the foolish finite schemes of man he laughs. That’s right, he laughs! Just because people live, speak, and plan as if he does not exist, doesn’t mean he does not exist. He was and is and is to come.
The culture war is one that is waged from a platform of fear and this fear coupled with the pandemic of biblical illiteracy has hindered the relevancy and effectiveness of the church. Where we should be boldly speaking the truth in love, we are coming across as incredibly insecure and in many cases downright mean. Ideologues on both ends of the political spectrum know this all too well and are more than willing to keep feeding the fear, the insecurity, and even the hate of the masses. But we have a more sure word of prophecy. God has revealed himself and his gracious work in the Scriptures. It’s time for the church to disengage from the culture wars and re-engage by God’s grace in the work to which he has called us.
We will be rejected, we will be persecuted, we will be misunderstood, and we will be mocked. Let it be because we are faithfully endeavoring to carry the message of the cross to a sin-cursed and broken world. Let it be because we are being used as earthen vessels empowered by God’s Spirit to mercifully serve our communities. Let it not be because we have put our trust in man-made structures that are fundamentally flawed and doomed to fail. Let us not forget that salvation is of the Lord.