Ever since the Roman emperor Constantine married government with Christianity almost 17 centuries ago, there has never really been a clear consensus on how much or how little Christians should be involved in politics. Every 4 years I hear the same thing, “This is the most important election in our lifetime!” It could be or it might be rather
insignificant. We are about 6 weeks away from election day in our country, which means that the commercials on the airwaves will become abundantly more vindictive and venomous, the spam e-mails will become more voluminous, and angst will grow on either political spectrum hoping and praying that they will not lose power.
So here’s the big question for those of us who are Christians: Does this election matter?
I believe the answer is yes. But I believe the answer is ‘yes’, not because of who may win, but because the results of this election will show us who we are as a nation and who we really trust in as the church. Let me explain.
I’ve been dabbling in the book of Isaiah the last couple weeks (which is essentially the same as saying, I’ve been dabbling in Niagara Falls). It’s a heavy book, but a good one to read. There’s a profound passage in this prophetic book in the 6th chapter. Here’s what it says:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Isaiah sees a vision of God after king Uzziah dies. This may not mean much to us, but it was significant to Isaiah. Uzziah was considered a good king. He ruled the kingdom of Judah for 52 years. For most of his life, he led his people well. He loved God, build up the kingdom, defeated the pagan nations around them, and brought a high level of prosperity to their nation. Uzziah led well until he was puffed up with himself and God took him out for his pride. When he died, you can imagine the public uncertainty can’t you? This king was the leader for 52 years which means that most people living within Judah had probably never known another leader or king. He was successful by every human standard. But then God gives Isaiah the prophet this vision.
Notice that the vision points to an important truth: The LORD is King. He is on the throne. Earthly kings rise and fall, but there is One who remains steadfast on the real throne. There’s a lot more to Isaiah 6 than this, but as Christians, this must remain our never-ending hope and trust. There is a true King who rules and is in control, no matter who is sitting in the oval office. Will your hope and confidence be shattered if your candidate doesn’t win on November 6th? I hear a lot of conservatives decrying the problems of the welfare state that we’ve created as a nation. There’s a lot of truth in their outcries, but don’t we, as Christians, sometimes act as welfare recipients? We depend on the government to support our moral agendas, instead of King Jesus who is the only one who can change hearts. I hope and pray our joy and hope can rest in our real King.
Now there’s a flip side to this. As much as our confidence must not be shaken by who wins, this doesn’t mean that we should remain aloof to the political process and to our government. There’s a strong movement amongst young Evangelicals to distance themselves entirely from anything to do with government. I believe we must be weary of this type of thinking. Remember, government is not a bad thing according to Scripture (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). Governments can become corrupt and we definitely have enough examples of that to fill an entire blog. But I can’t help but think of men like Daniel and Nehemiah and a certain woman named Esther. These were individuals whom God used to influence and advance His Kingdom within government. They knew that it was really God who reigned, not the earthly king that they served, therefore they prayed and influenced the world around them for the glory of God and the salvation of their people. We need more men and women like that today. To be able to be involved within government is a great privilege that God has given to us within our nation. Let’s not squander or ignore that.
Let me conclude with this. I believe that government is not the answer to solve the world’s problems. Only the gospel can truly transform lives. I hope that we can remember though that we have inherited an incredible privilege to be a part of our government. Very few in the history of mankind can ever say that. May we vote with joy, trust in our Savior for true hope, and may the cry of hearts be like it once was over 200 years ago, when our nation was in its infancy: “No king, but King Jesus!”