Good morning, America. I see we all survived election night. No one combusted from elation or despair and no one died of bordem. The world goes on, no matter how overly dramatic anyone feels about last night’s outcome.
Because I have a high volume of Christian conservative friends, my Facebook is flooded with a barrage of spiteful, angry, scared and dismal comments. So here’s a pep talk and lecture for my fellow Christians who are disparaging the president of the United States.
It’s good to be involved in politics, to be informed, active and passionate about the goings-on of our country. But as Christians, we must never allow our political activity to overshadow or hinder our missionary activity. We are ambassadors of Christ. Our sole reason for existence is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything we think, do and say is viewed as a reflection of the God whose name we bear. Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations. Our message and our reality are the Law and Gospel. All else are just details that we can use either for Christ’s glory or for sinful purposes.
How are you using politics today, my friends? Are you using them to bring glory and honor to God? Are you using them to open hearts and minds to the promise of salvation through Jesus? Or are you consumed with a worldly view, selfishly airing your grievances, believing that ultimately being right and getting your way are the most important things in this life? Do you feel despair, outrage, hopelessness? If so, then you have put your trust in government and in the ways of man rather than the ways of God. Our lives and welfare do not ultimately depend on a human election. President Obama cannot save us (he also cannot destroy us). Mitt Romney would not have been able to save us either. And for those of you familiar with my political leanings, even Dr. Ron Paul would not have been able to save us. They are just men. They are tiny details in God’s vast plan for humanity. And they are tools that God uses. Yes, God uses our president, no matter who he (or someday she) is.
Understand me: you can hate every single thing President Obama does. But you cannot hate him. Check your heart. Barack Obama is a fellow human being, our brother, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). We are told in no uncertain terms:
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15
You may feel that Obama is not your brother, he is the enemy. He tramples religious liberties, defends the killing of unborn children and promotes immorality in our nation. If this is your view, consider Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 5:43-46:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
You may say that Obama doesn’t deserve to be president and doesn’t deserve our respect. But like it or not, he won the election. In this country, that’s what makes you deserve to be president. Also, dear Christians, what if God gave us each what we deserved? We were weak, ungodly, enemies of God deserving his wrath when Christ died for us (Romans 5). Instead of the judgment and death we deserved, we were given grace, love and salvation. Keep this in the forefront of your mind when you go to judge what someone else deserves.
Besides that, God commands us to respect and obey those in authority. President Obama is in authority over us, and the Bible says that his power comes from God:
“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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 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, 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. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 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 13:1-7.
Does that mean the Obama administration was instituted by God? Yes it does. No matter how evil you may feel the administration is. The quote above was written to early Christians living under the rule of the Roman empire. Cesar gave himself the title Lord, enraging the Jews. The Roman empire outlawed Christianity and martyred believers with zeal and brutality. Paul knew with what fear and consternation his readers would receive the message that “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Even when a government acts in direct opposition to God’s will, God is able to use that government as his tool. He’s resourceful like that. Let’s trust Him.
Trust is what it all comes down to. The president is not ultimately in control of our destiny. This means our lives are not over if the person you support lost the election. Psalm 146:1-4 says,
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes (or presidents, or congressmen, or judges, or legislation), in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”
Are you praising the Lord today with your thoughts and your words and your Facebook statuses? It is good to strive to improve our nation. It is important that we stand up for our beliefs and pressure our officials to make moral decisions. It is useful to our progress as a nation that we never settle for less than ideal circumstances. But we need to do those things in a state of praise and gratitude. Our economy might still be sluggish and our unemployment rate too high. But we are still so blessed. Realize that we have brothers and sisters around the world who are in constant fear for their lives from war, famine, unclean water, disease, rampant crime, and bloody persecution. Remember that when you complain about how “bad” things are, you are not only grumbling against the government, you are grumbling against the God who has given you everything you have.
Be discontent insofar as it motivates you to personally work for change in our country and in our world. But temper your discontentment with profound gratitude for the incredible blessings we enjoy. Even if every tangible comfort were stripped away, we would still have reason to praise the Lord. Everything we have is meant to be used as a tool to bring others to salvation. Our eternal salvation is far, far greater than anything temporal. Rejoice, for you are loved by your Savior. And for Christ’s sake, love your neighbors, democrats, republicans, libertarians, independents, socialists, fascists, anarchists and indifferents.
“So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13