The result of yesterday’s election for many is one of two states- either one of hope for the future or one of fear for the future. If you have been watching any form of media, or interfacing with others you have probably experienced one or bother of these. The question for the follower of Jesus on either side, and those somewhere in between, is, “Where is your God in all this?”
Many of you know that I am a Pastor that works hard to care for every person that the Lord brings into my life. I have made the conscious choice to not use my position to promote specific political views unless the Scriptures speak to them. Now, I do hold political opinions and preferences and I do vote. Yet, I have chosen to put aside my political preference so that I can share the message of Jesus with all the individuals of any political preference or affiliation. This past Sunday I focused on trusting God whatever the election results in my sermon “God’s Got My Back – Government” It is part of a three week series looking at three of the areas in life that are a source of stress: Political, Personal Crisis and Finances. This series was chosen with the election in mind to challenge Jesus’ followers to keep the election results in perspective (a Biblical perspective!)
Our time in God’s Word this past week found us in the first part of Romans 13. This passage speaks to a follower of Jesus’ relationship to government. It is here that we glean several important insights. First, God created the institution of government and along with it authority structures. It is easy for Jesus’ followers to think this applies only to Christian government or to our government. Yet, these words to the believers under Roman rule and Emperor Nero’s authority calls them not to fear, but to understand and respond to those in authority from a Biblical perspective. Second, God’s Word reminds us that those politicians in places of authority are actually ministers of God. We are also instructed that to fight against these authorities is to fight against God.
The challenge of politics today is we often saint those that are like us (or we like) and vilify those that are different or we do not like. Our vilification often becomes the justification for ungodly, words, thoughts and actions. The challenge is that when we act this way we are not acting like Jesus but acting like the culture. The only time that I can see the Bible supporting conscientious objection is when governmental mandates directly conflict with God given mandates. I need to point out that when we act in an unchristian way toward those in authority we actually invite God’s correction in our lives and sever our relationship with Him.
God instruction to a first century follower living under Emperor Nero’s rule, and to us today, is to be a good citizen. This would include following the rules and honoring any obligations. This would include paying our income and property taxes and also sales tax. We are also called to treat those in authority over us with respect and honor. These would eliminate name calling and any forms of slander. I am afraid that many of Jesus’ followers have allowed character failure to become a justification to be disrespectful and to dishonor those in positions of authority.
I will close with a word of encouragement, that may help the many struggling with the results of the election, from God’s Word given through the prophet Daniel to the dictator Nebuchadnezzar, “till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” (Daniel 4:25)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson