It is November 5, 2008. The election is behind us and the results are in. What now? Whether the candidate you supported won or lost, whether your party of choice did well or poorly, the fact is, it is now time for us to live our lives in the world around us.
I want to allow the scripture to speak to us as we look to how we ought to respond, and I will make a couple of important comments. But first, let us hear from God.
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. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 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, 4 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. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 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.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Let us learn a few important truths from the verses above. First, let us realize that no election result came apart from the sovereignty of God. God’s word clearly says, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1b). So let us be sure of this: God was not defeated in our election. God is accomplishing his will. Whether you understand how he is working this out is not relevant. God has done what God has done. Let us recognize this fact, and live under the sovereign rule of our God and under the government he has placed over us.
Second, let us recognize our responsibility. We as the people of God have a requirement given us by God to pray for our leadership. God says through Paul, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all 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” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). It is our job as believers to pray for all in leadership and authority over us. This includes our president elect. And our prayers have a focus. We want to ask God to be glorified, of course, but look at the text. We are to pray for our leaders that we who are believers might live a peaceful and quiet life. We are to pray that we can live dignified and God-honoring lives under the rulers who are over us. So let us remember what God has called us to do and do our duty.
Third, look at what the Bible says about our speech. God commands us, “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 13:7). God also says in a discussion of our response to leaders that we are “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2). So let me say this with all biblical authority: We as Christians must speak with respect, courtesy, and kindness toward our leadership. It is inappropriate for Christians to take part in the venomous speech that so often characterizes those whose political party is not in power. We must not make nasty jokes that disrespect our leadership. WE must not take part in throwing about wild accusations and unfair character assessments. WE have no right to say that we understand the heart of a particular politician simply because we disagree with him or her on issues, regardless of how important those issues are. No, as believers, we must speak with dignity, respect, love, and courtesy.
Am I saying that we must not stand for important moral issues such as the sanctity of human life? Of course I am not saying that. We should continue to pray that God will protect human life and put an end to the barbaric practices which are now legal in our society. What I am saying is that, at this point, the leadership of our nation is set, and we must not be evil and disrespectful toward that leadership. Instead, we should pray for our leadership. It would be wise for us to pray that our leadership will be led by God to protect human life, to govern as will most honor him, and to change views that they hold that do damage to people who are made in God’s image. We should pray for the leaders of our nation that we will continue to be able to live peacefully, quietly, and with dignity as believers in the United States. We should pray for our leaders that they will govern well, and that they will do justice as God has called them to do.
We also can pray, thanking God that some important changes have occurred in our nation. We can thank God that we see evidence of the fall of racism in our culture. That we would elect the nation’s first African-American president is a testimony to the grace of God in at least one sense. God has allowed our people to recognize that the color of a man’s skin is not a factor that either qualifies or disqualifies him for any position in our land. Racism is evil. Anyone who would say that we should not have a president of a particular skin color simply because of that skin color is wrong, and such a person ought to repent of their sinful attitude. Christians can disagree on a candidate’s qualifications, but no believer should judge a man as more or less worthy to serve in office based on skin color. So, in at least this area, we as believers should thank God that our nation has made such dramatic progress in tearing down the ungodly walls of racism which have been such a part of our past.
Christians, it is November 5. The world has changed. Yet, with all the changes and all the celebration and all the sorrow and all the money spent, God is still on his throne. And our duty as believers is to pray for our leadership, respect our leadership, and live as Christians in our society. Why is this our duty? Paul says, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). It pleases God that we pray for our leaders and live peacefully under them, because our mission is not about the nation or the economy or a political party. Our mission is to take the message of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. The Great Commission is our responsibility just as much today as it was yesterday. So, let us live as God commands, and let’s please him by making our lives about spreading a passion for his glory to all peoples all over the world.