In the wake of the now historical 2016 Presidential election, many have written and will write much more poignant and helpful words than what I share here. These are just a few words of reminder, caution, and encouragement for myself as a pastor and others among whom I minister and serve alongside as we reflect on the changing of the guard in this American experiment of Democracy. These words will make little sense unless you are coming from a Gospel proclaiming, Christ-centered worldview. If they in any way intrigue you and cause a longing in you then I invite you to know and worship the same King I do.
Comfort in the Sovereignty of God
21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; – Daniel 2:21
God knew how this election would turn out before the United States, let alone the world, existed. Really. He knew and He knows. For whatever reason, He has permitted this moment on the stage of the history of the world. There must be comfort in that.
Let us not seek security in the ballot box but in the promises of the Bible. If we feel more peaceful today with Mr. Trump headed for the White House in January more than we felt comforted yesterday in longing for Jesus’ return on the white horse, then we are guilty of idolatry and our hopes are misplaced. On the other hand, if we are more frightened today with his coming to the White House than we are fortified in knowing Christ will return on the white horse, then we are also guilty of the same thing.
Convictional Sensitivity to our Neighbors
We are to love our neighbors. All of our neighbors. Not just the ones we like either. We are even to love the ones who are our enemies. For some, our enemies are strawmen caricatures of individuals from a different background we have never spoken to before. For others of us, it is a stranger with a huge “Make America Great Again” sign next to their “Trespassers will be shot” sign.
The neighbor who is Christ-like must recognize today we have many hurting people in this country with a different point of view on just about everything. We must also recognize that many if not most of our non-white and non-native born neighbors are justifiably leery (if not livid) in wondering how someone who has talked like this candidate can be so overwhelmingly voted for by the people surrounding them.
There are deep divides in this country along racial, cultural, and ideological lines. Frankly, they will not be healed apart from the peace of Christ that passes all understanding. One day before the throne, we will all be gathered from every tribe, nation, tongue and background. The closest we can come to Heaven now is to reach out and work for that sort of gospel-driven unity in spite of ourselves and for the glory of God.
Christ-like Submission to Governing Authorities
This is a tough one. Americans are allergic to the term “submit” – it would seem other than when we are telling other Americans to submit. We may also note it could not have been easy for Jesus. He readily admonished the paying of taxes and modeled what it means to literally carry a Cross. However, before we rush too quickly to understand this as meaning we are primarily obedient to any earthly governing authority, note what Jesus says to the Roman Governor responsible for His capital punishment: “Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” – John 19:11. Jesus was submissive to governing authorities because He was submissive to His Father.
Consider Peter’s admonition:
1 Peter 2 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Simply, there is an end in view to a Christ like submission to authority – and that is that those in authority would know our Father in Heaven.
Consistent Sincerity in Prayerfulness
“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” – 1 Timothy 1:1 – 2
If we prayed this morning for President-Elect Donald Trump then I sincerely hope we also petitioned God on behalf of the President of the United States, Barack Obama. If we have only prayed imprecatory prayers for the current President of the United States, then we have been disobedient to the commands of God and should repent.
For many, it will be difficult to pray for President-elect Trump, but if we are followers of Christ then it is our mandate. What any head of state should be able to count on is the fervent prayer of Daniels, John the Baptists, Pauls, William Wilberforces, Frederick Douglasses and countless other common ordinary Christians who sincerely seek the good and welfare of the home which God has given us. John the Baptist prayed for Herod. Paul prayed for Nero. William Tyndale prayed for Henry the VIII. Just think about that. Let us pray for peace and transition of power and God’s blessing on President Barack Obama. In the same way, inthe words of my brother Max Lucado, let us pray that President-elect Donald Trump would have the “heart of David, the vision of Daniel, and the wisdom of Solomon.”
Confidence in the Singularity of our Mission
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
Last, but not least, in the words of Russell Moore, we have “higher priorities.” Our business as citizens of the United States is trumped by our business as Kingdom Citizens. Certainly the two go hand in hand, but inevitably one must outweigh the other. Our business is to be salt and light to a dark and unsavory world, and we must be about our Father’s business of spreading the light and fragrance of Christ everywhere to everyone – urban, suburban, rural, male, female, citizen, immigrant, refugee and countless other categories – that are all one in Christ Jesus.