I grew up in a country where general elections were marked by violence and you could get shot just for wearing the wrong color clothing in the wrong area of town. My mother and father were staunch supporters of opposing political parties and the loud, animated arguments would go on for hours, frequently deteriorating into accusations and name-calling. Each government touted new vision and recycled old promises but very little would change, for better or worse; and the carousel went around and around.
The intensity of the angst and animosity aroused by our recent elections gave me cause for concern, though I for one am grateful that the war is primarily one of words, not bullets and I did not have to temporarily ban sections of my wardrobe in fear for my life. However, the inflammatory rhetoric, the broad labels, the deifying of individuals and political parties and demonizing of others compelled me to pray more fervently for our country than I ever have before.
When did we decide to allow our hopes and fears to rise or fall on the fate of any political party? Why would we base our highest expectations on the good intentions of any human government, make enemies of people who do not see things the way we do, or choose ideological conflict over building community?
The Bible teaches that every government on earth, democratically elected or not, owes its existence to, and will be held accountable by God Himself. The Babylonian empire ruled the world but its king Nebuchadnezzar was made to eat grass like an animal,
“…until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” Daniel 4:32
In his letter to Christians living under oppressive Roman rule Paul wrote:
“…For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God…” Romans 13:1
It is a hard pill to swallow that God, in accordance with His divine purpose, would allow evil people like Hitler, the Viet Cong or Idi Amin to be in positions of authority. You can be sure that is one of the questions I will want answered when I see Jesus face to face. What is clear now is that God requires those in authority to execute justice and righteousness, and there is a day of reckoning coming for all who abuse God-given authority.
Maybe when we seek hope for our nation and encouragement about our future we should not look to the capitols first, but in the trenches, among the people with ‘boots on the ground’.
Every day people fulfill their life-purpose serving the poor in our gospel missions, soup kitchens, food banks, etc.; faithfully doing their part to restore dignity, give hope and meet the practical needs of those who have fallen on hard times. Teenagers give up their unalienable right to sleep in on a Sunday morning to feed and clothe the poor, and “hope springs eternal” in my heart.
It springs again when the young pastor challenges 686 churches in one county to provide permanent, loving homes for the 686 children in foster care, telling them, “…these are our children!” , and people rise to the challenge.
It is found in those with the passion and determination to be teachers, who go into the profession and into the poorest of classrooms knowing they will never get rich doing this job, but they may influence and inspire some, who could change our nation and perhaps the world for good.
I see it in the people who have no time to debate or hurl insults over the issue of abortion because they are committed to come alongside that terrified young girl who feels she has made the biggest mistake of her life and is all alone, or the pregnant woman who just found out she has cancer and is facing no good options. Without judgment or condemnation, they give unconditional love and practical support with compassion that cannot be legislated in the halls of government.
Then there are those men and women in law enforcement and our military, who truly find their purpose and calling in careers that are necessary to stem the tide of evil, but are required to put their lives on the line. No matter who wins elections, they always answer the call to serve, knowing that one day they, and their families, may have to make the ultimate sacrifice for our safety and freedom.
I find hope among people who have refused the poison apple of greed; who work hard every day, are content to live within their means, and sacrifice to live debt-free so they can afford to give generously of their time and money to those who need a hand up. They pay their taxes, invest their surplus and treat their employees fairly, not because they fear or favor the government, but because they fear God and acknowledge His favor.
So here’s the thing; our faith and hope for the future ought not to be in any government, but in God’s power, plan and purpose, which can never be thwarted, (Job 42:2), continuously being fulfilled in the lives of individuals. No matter the outcome of any election, God did not stutter when He said:
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
So, as one who has made the choice to be called by His name, I vote, God decides, I go to bed early election night and sleep like a baby, then wake the next morning to begin to pray continually for,
“…all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1Timothy 2:2-3
…just living the thing.