Note: This entry was originally written for our church bulletin article, but I thought this a relevant place to publish it as well. Please see my earlier entry from today as well: Christian When You Go To Vote Today
As I write this, millions of Americans are heading to the polls to let their voice be heard on scores of political candidates and ballot initiatives. I believe the entire process is a good thing, because it says a lot about our freedom. We will get to decide our national, state, and local leaders through a mostly peaceful and fair process. The number of nations who can say the same would comprise a fairly short list. Even other democracies are often fraught with violence, intimidation, riots, and outright cheating on election days. Passions may be high here, but the process is as good as it comes.
Certainly elections come with consequences. It may really make a considerable difference when one candidate prevails over another. However, when I read a sign about how one candidate is the “last chance for America,” I just shake my head. In every election major election, we hear this rhetoric. Even worse, we often hear it from Christians.
America is actually a pretty strong country with the best checks and balances in the world. A single bad president is not going to completely ruin the nation. After all, we’ve had a few, and we are still here! More importantly, many well-meaning American Christians misplace their hope in political outcomes and ideology. This is nothing new, but it has always been offensive to God.
When you read the Old Testament, you will find many times Israel wanted to place their hope in the political powers instead of God (cf. 2 Ki. 16, concerning Ahaz seeking help from Assyria instead of God). This tendency certainly became a factor in the exile of both the nations of Israel and Judah. Israel also looked for the Messiah to conquer their enemies through political and military power. The conspirators against Jesus used this to interest Rome in his case. So, Pilate questioned Jesus concerning his status as king of the Jews to discover whether or not he was a rival to Rome.
Jesus’ response might be one of the most overlooked statements of Jesus by his followers today. He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (Jn. 18:36). Jesus dismisses Pilate’s concern by basically telling him, “Your kingdom and others like it aren’t even in the same ballpark as mine!”
I wonder why so many of us Christians sell short the kingdom of Jesus by giving so much importance to the kingdoms of this world. Why are we so eager to put our hope in worldly kingdoms, politics, and politicians? Are we any different than King Ahaz choosing Assyria over God?
One day America will fall, though not over a single election. When it does, our King will still be on his throne. When every kingdom has fallen—for they all must—our King will still be there. Our hope must be with Him. May our actions and attitudes this election season not betray our true King!