So many things threaten the peace and purity of God’s church. Differing opinions about politics can divide God’s people in challenging ways. I offered the following to my church to help ground us in a kingdom view for guarding our oneness.
I awoke Wednesday morning to learn that Donald Trump tweeted a revised bio on his feed: president elect of the United States.
Honestly, as with the pre-election realities―unlike anything I can recall in my lifetime―I find myself on this side of Election Day scratching my pastoral head as to what to make of our state of the union.
If ever I would categorize something as a Psalm 131:2 “too-high-for-me/above-my-pay-grade” scenario, the political drama unfolding before our eyes in 2016 qualifies as much as any of the other mysterious providences to enter my life this year.
While wrestling frequently over where to cast my vote, I have resisted occupying myself with the outcome in a hand-wringing, anxiety-ridden, prideful occupying of myself with what I can’t control. God has helped me calm my soul with weaned-child perspective born of His persistent work in my sometimes frantic fretting over baffling providences.
No doubt a wide range of emotions exists within our body this week, regardless of individual political preferences. In this article, I want to point us to David’s exhortation in Psalm 131:3 to hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Consider these truths from God’s word to garrison that hope in your heart.
One, God is sovereign over all things. Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases (Psalm 115:3). Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’ (Isaiah 46:9-10).
Among all the things that moved and shifted overnight last Tuesday, Jesus didn’t. He remains enthroned in the heavens at the Father’s right hand until He brings all His enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). He reigns!
Two, God’s sovereignty prevails in specific over rulers, kings, prime ministers and presidents alike. For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another (Psalm 75:6-7).
Regardless for whom you voted—and I hope you did exercise your US citizen stewardship responsibility to do so—God has judged. He put down Secretary Clinton and lifted up Mr. Trump. Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it (Amos 3:6)?
Please don’t misread me. I’m not implying I consider the president elect a disaster. Nor do I necessarily regard him a monumental blessing. My political sentiments as a citizen of our country are my personal business.
What I’m simply saying by citing that verse is this: even if Donald Trump proves to be the worst thing to ever happen to our country, the best thing, or likely somewhere in between, God will have done it. Furthermore, I want to caution us to exercise care in the way we judge. J. D. Greear said this very well in his post-election article:
I’d encourage us to be cautious about declaring definitively God’s intentions in this election. I’ve already seen social media filling up with some declaring Trump as “God’s answer to the prayers of his people,” and others declaring him to be the “judgment of God on America.” A better posture is to encourage Trump where he works for justice and pursues righteousness, and speak against him where he promotes injustice. It is almost never wise to appoint yourself God’s spokesman about contemporary events. (That has led to several devastating chapters in history!) Based on what you see in Scripture, stand with righteousness and against injustice wherever you see it (emphasis mine).
As I think about preaching 1 Peter this Sunday and the plight of the persecuted church, I find myself grateful that the beast Nero doesn’t rule over us. We could be worse off—far worse. As Scripture urges honoring even tyrants like Rome’s emperor (1 Pet. 2:17) and prayer for all in authority over us (1 Tim. 2:1-2), let us make that our default response to our country’s recent turn of events.
Mr. Trump’s heart, as with President Obama and every other White House occupant, is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will (Prov. 21:1). The Lord’s eyes keep watch on the nations (Psalm 66:7). The USA is no exception. God’s got this deal!
Three, our citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20) supersedes all allegiances on earth, including our beloved country. I’m grateful to possess a US passport; I’m infinitely more excited that my name is written in the book of life (Luke 10:20). Every US citizen who follows Jesus is longing for a better country, a heavenly one―or should be (Heb. 11:16).
Are you crushed by Tuesday’s outcome? Are you unsure what to think? Has it left you with a sense of angst to some degree? Let the longings stirred up as a result set your mind and heart toward your heavenly kingdom. Redouble your energies for being on mission for Jesus—knowing Him to make Him known.
Jesus never said, “I will build the USA and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” He never said that about Israel as well, nor any other geopolitical entity. No, He raised that banner over His church and her alone (Matt. 16:18). The church of Jesus Christ alone ultimately triumphs through election cycles, centuries, and millennia.
Good news, church. We win! He is coming again with myriads of angels to make all things right (1 Thess. 4:16). He will judge the living and the dead (2 Tim. 4:1). The New Heavens and New Earth remain our treasured inheritance kept for us by God’s power (1 Pet. 1:5). So hope in the Lord, church of the redeemed, from this time forth and forever.
After a friend of mine shared his sentiments about the outcome of this election, he proceeded to say this to me: before the day is out I plan to read through the book of Daniel in one sitting. Not a bad place to ground oneself in these too great and marvelous times in which we live.
Very good words to all of us who follow Jesus. I am grateful for your pastor-heart.