Fantasy or Dread? Two Ways Christians Navigate Political Histrionics.
How should the eternal Church interact with the temporal earthly powers such as the United States?I have found two guideposts for my sanity:
1. Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save (psalm 146).
Obama or Trump have tremendous power over our temporal existence, but ultimately cannot provide our true need - reconciliation with the living God. For Christians, our eternal well-being is looked after by our Eternal King - leave it with Him. This is one reason why Christians should be uncomfortable with all the pseudo-religious language of the US government. The United States is not the Church... But often the official messages give the idea that Americans are synonymous with Christians. The United States is not God's chosen nation or people. Christians have a king whom we obey because he has demonstrated His love for us. We also happen to live and serve in certain countries, but our ultimate hope is not in those countries. We are resident aliens - our citizenship is in God's kingdom.
2. "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." 1 Peter 2.
God's eternal kingdom is the Church. Yet God is not absent from the governments of this world. His hand guides all things and those who are in positions of authority are put there by Him. Because they actually work for Him, they will also have to report to Him for the way they governed. This is why Christians should honor those who are in positions of rightful authority - because they ultimately work for our King. We should pray for them, and honor them. When and if they create laws that conflict with the will of God, we resist with non-violent means. This is the enduring legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
With these two things in mind, I am able to navigate the political chaos without the hysterics and hype that accompany those who have their hopes set on this world. The despair and elation that we have seen in the past election cycle show that many's hearts are completely owned by the political future of the United States -as if either the former president or the future one could actually be the savior the United States. The truth is, neither can.
Stay Calm, Look for Jesus to Return
I prayed for President Barack Obama because he was God's servant for the sake of my country. I'll pray for President Donald Trump because he is God's servant for the sake of my country. I ask God to give them wisdom to provide peace for the country and for the world. I pray that God would keep them from harm and danger. As a member of a Republic I also occasionally voice my praise or critique of their actions. But ultimately I expect them to let me down. Even so, I pay my taxes.
I'll never put my full trust in them as I know they are truly unable to help me when it comes to my true need. They cannot stop my death. They cannot raise me from the dead. They are flawed humans just like me, living in a world that is stuck in the shadow of death and the perennial confusion of sin. I'll reserve my ultimate trust for the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who has purchased and won me into His eternal kingdom. With Him lies my security. And my hopes are set on His return, when His kingdom will be fully revealed.
Rev. Tim Barone - Calvary Lutheran Church, Thunder Bay, Ontario