Exalting Christ in Any Administration
I know, I know, the 2020 Election is not officially over. While I think it highly unlikely that Donald Trump will pull magic ballots out of his litigation hat, there is still a process to be completed. On December 14th (today!) state electors cast their ballots, December 23rd the president of the senate receives the electoral vote certificates and, finally, on January 6th congress counts the electoral votes and officially declares a winner. Then of course the current president must actually leave the White House . . . .
All this leaves the next POTUS potentially unresolved. However, although a Biden presidency is nearly certain, the Christian response to any new president remains essentially the same. All political parties and personages bring with them a confused, murky mix of questionable policies and character flaws that must be addressed by clear Biblical principles. Following are five scriptural responses to whichever person and party takes over presidential power on January 20th.
A. Be Christian, not Republican (or Democrat)
Php 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
A truly Biblical response to the election will not be Republican or Democratic in nature. We are citizens of heaven not political cronies of one party or another. Even when certain planks of the two major political platforms line up with Biblical principles, it is clearly not the purpose of either party to bring glory to God through Christ. Additionally, while many Biblical moral standards are supported by the Republican platform in principle (particularly issues of marriage, protection of the unborn, the rule of law, private ownership, and personal responsibility) there are many Republican leaders who do not fully support those morals and very few who support a truly Christian view of why those standards are important.
So, a wise response to our next president does not involve embracing or rejecting his party affiliation, but instead requires biblical wisdom and discernment to do everything for the glory of God within the confines of obedience, submission, respect, and freedom of conscience.
Our first response to the election is to be truly Christian, not politically partisan.
B. Be Angry and Do Not Sin
Eph 4:26–27 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
While our response to the next president is not driven by political advocacy, we need to be aware of the dangers and attacks which are inherent in the principles and stated intentions of the administration which comes into power. A democratic presidency will almost certainly bring policies and actions which give rise to righteous anger. To stick our heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge this reality is to ignore the promptings of our biblically informed conscience, which is never wise. An honest analysis of past administrations reveals that, almost certainly, the following issues will arise.
1. Increased attack on the unborn
There will be an increased attack on the unborn. The stated goal of the president-elect, his vice president and his party is to increase the ease and availability of abortion in our own country and around the world. If children in the womb could be aware of the results of this election they would recoil in horror as they do before the abortionists knife.
2. Increased attack on the Biblically defined family
The biblical definition of marriage and family will be assaulted with increasing vitriol. No aspect of God’s intended plan for one man to marry one women for life and to raise godly offspring will go unchallenged. This is grievous at a number of levels, not the least of which is the destruction of the family unit, one of the primary building blocks of a stable society.
3. Increased attack on the public expressions of the Christian faith and Biblical morality
The public square is already hostile to biblical expression of the Christian faith and morality. Aversion to these truths is certain to grow. The pressure to only allow Christian living in the privacy of one’s own home (and even then with harassment and belittling by the cultural elite) will slowly increase to squeeze the life out of truly righteous behavior.
4. Increased inroads by the LGBTQ agenda
In recent years, the democratic agenda has been the sycophantic cheerleader of the LGBTQ message. We are awash in a push to normalize all deviant sexual behaviors and to label all who resist as bigot, haters, and worse. Certainly, we do not look forward to this with eager anticipation.
5. Increased pressure from the social justice agenda
Like a storm on the horizon, the social justice, woke, critical race theory agenda has been gathering. With this administration the fury of the storm is most likely to be unleashed. Kept contained from virulent formation over the past several years, the gale force winds of cultural Marxism threaten to strike will full force. This will sweep away some measure of the order and structure of a society ruled by law and personal responsibility rather than equality of outcome. An increasing lack of justice for both the afflicted and the elite will be the result. This is something to grieve over.
A strong caveat to this principle is that our human anger is never completely righteous. It is always tainted with our own sin and selfishness. We need to take care lest the legitimate concerns of conscience prompt in us unrighteous behavior. In our anger we are commanded not to sin which includes unwholesome words. Whenever we have a sinful response, even to truly evil actions, the devil has a double opportunity. He will use the wicked deeds for maximum harm and use the sinful response to destroy the witness and character of believers.
We are not to belittle, mock, or slander those with whom we disagree. Titus 3:1-3 tells us that we are to malign no one and show every consideration for all men – because as they are, we once were (or would have been).
Instead of being sinfully angry, we are to love. This does not mean that we must all hold hands and agree with the ruling party because they just won the election (as they are now hypocritically trumpeting from every co-opted media outlet), but the principle of love does require us to be kind, gracious, gentle and gospel centered in our words and actions.
Our second response is to hate sin but respond in truth and love.
C. Be Anxious for Nothing
Php 4:6–9 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Yup, I went there. You knew these verses were coming and are already marshalling your excuses as to why you are not really anxious, just “properly concerned.” Or maybe, you are willing to admit that you are consumed by anxiety, but being bashed over the head by this principle, only increases your worry. My intent is not to shove you into the slough of despond over tendencies towards apprehension, but to remind you that there is real provision for dealing with the legitimate fears that arise in our hearts as we consider the harms mentioned above (and many other I did not mention).
What are some of those legitimate fears? Well, I certainly do not desire for myself, or my children (or you and yours) to grow up in the America that is almost certainly coming (how quickly remains to be seen). I yearn to continue to enjoy freedom of worship, equality of opportunity, economic prosperity, and societal harmony – and I want these for my kids. Yet I must be willing to recognize that a lack of these things need not, and must not, affect the fruit of the Spirit expressed in and through my life. Even in relationship to my family, the reality is that my children will most likely be stronger, more vibrant Christians as a result of the spiritual challenges they will face – even if they have smaller homes, less resources, and fewer societal opportunities.
And so, as Philippians 4:6-9 describes, I do need to pray, I must be thankful, I am required take hold of the peace I have with God and in Christ. I have a responsibility to think about everything biblically, and it is essential that I imitate the faithful obedience of men like Paul. This does not ensure that I will never feel inner turmoil, but that I will much more rarely be capsized by the waves of circumstance.
So, there you have it, my sermon on anxiety. However, there are few specific “apprehension producers” that I would like to deal with before leaving this principle.
1. Assuming certain things will be done before they happen
First, we should be careful not to turn assumptions about what our president elect might do into “facts” about what he has already done. Matthew 6:24 reminds us, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. We are not equipped by God to handle tomorrows evils today. If things we anticipate do materialize, the Lord will strengthen us to overcome them then, not now.
2. Being consumed with conspiracies
Additionally, we must, at all costs, avoid drinking deeply from sources of information that present scenarios that cannot be verified and about which, even if they were true, nothing could be done (QAnon anyone?). There are conspiracies out there, some which are obvious enough. But, by their very definition, conspiracies are hard to identify and even harder to quantify. Imagine a conspiracy so big that it could orchestrate the manufacture and release of a virus which would overwhelm the world governmental systems in just the right measure to bring about a diabolical world agenda of ruin and domination by some mysterious shadow lord. If someone (or some group of people) has that kind of power and resources, you and your ten (or ten thousand) buddies on the internet aren’t going to get in their way. How much better to seek first the Kingdom of God and let his infinite power deal with finite conspiracies.
Several Biblical principles provide guidance in this area. First, don’t get carried away by worldly myths, discipline yourself for godliness.
1 Ti 4:7–8 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Second, don’t dread the conspiracies that the world fears – fear God instead.
Is 8:12–14 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. “Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
I have soon too many men (yes, it is almost always men) drawn away into endless research and discussion of conspiratorial issues. This has led many of them to spiritual (and often economic, marital, and familial) ruin.
3. Believing things about people that cannot be verified
Lastly in this regard. Don’t grow anxious believing things about people or events that cannot be verified. We are to be driven by the truth, but so much of what we hear on our news outlets and social media feeds is nothing but pure gossip. How deadly it is when we allow our emotions, actions, and responses to others to be guided by lies or inuendos. Consider how damaging it is to the truth of the gospel when we are characterized by spreading lies. If you can’t be bothered to verify the truth of (or better yet be unaffected by) the constant stream of gossip on your Facebook feed, why should someone believe you about the eternal realities of the gospel – which require a lot more attention than the latest right wing Twitter rant. Commit to live out Ephesians 4:25, Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
Our third response is to defeat anxiety by careful, truthful biblical thinking and action.
D. Be Biblically Political
To refuse anxiety over political machinations is not to abandon the political arena all together. Part of our role as responsible citizens of this country is to be involved in political affairs to the extent that we love other people well. The church corporately does not take an active role in politics, but the individual believer can, and many times should.
1. Pray for the president and leaders
One of the primary responsibilities we have toward our leaders it to pray for them.
1 Ti 2:1–2 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
The goal of this prayer is that our governmental authorities would allow us to lead peaceful and quiet lives during which we worship and evangelize freely and openly. Prayer humbly reminds us that we are not in control of the political situation and are in desperate need of the power of God turn the hearts of our leaders towards what is good and right.
2. Be respectful of the office of leadership
Although individual leaders may exhibit characteristics that we loath, we are still responsible to have a respect for the authority of the office and live in biblical submission to the rulers over us.
1 Pe 2:13–17 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
To be “biblically political” is to use our freedom to pursue things that are good and right while honoring everyone in our lives; loving those in the church; having a delightful, dreadful, consuming, reverential awe of God; and a healthy respect of the king (or president). Romans 13 tells us that we do this out of fear of punishment, but also for conscience sake – disrespectful, disobedient behavior sears our conscience, taking a terrible toll on our ability to identify and repent of sin in every area.
3. Stay involved in all ways that are appropriate for your life situation
There is a place for righteous political activity. We can vote our conscience, work for better legislation, write to put pressure on our congressman, and promote causes which protect and provide for the afflicted and needy.
We need to be careful to keep a proper focus, however. Every action we undertake is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ with the purpose of bringing glory to God – not pushing a particular political or social agenda.
1 Co 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
4. Don’t let your life be dominated by politics
Regardless of the spectrum of our political activity, we are never to be dominated by political concerns. We would be better off in most cases to turn off Fox news, limit our facebook feed to five minutes, and carefully develop news sources that provide a modicum of objectivity. In every administration we are to seek first the Kingdom of God and not the “kingdom” we currently happen to occupy. Our primary focus, and the basis of our unity as believes is not politics, but the gospel.
Php 1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Out fourth response is to pursue politics with biblical zeal and constraint.
E. Be Filled With the Spirit
Col 3:16–17 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Our final reaction to a political power shift is to actively approach each day in the strength of the Holy Spirit. We must let the Word of Christ richly dwell within us, not clouded by the fog of our own delusions or the swirling mists of cultural opinion.
1. Live by faith, not feelings
Ga 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
When we live by the Spirit, we will not cater to our feelings or allow them to drive our behavior. Instead, our decisions will be made in the exercise of faith according to the principles of God’s Word. This will protect us from the knee jerk reactions of fluctuating emotions brought on by the distressing decisions and policies of a new administration.
2. Understand God’s sovereign control is wise, loving, and good
Ro 8:28–29 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
When dominated by a worldly mindset, it is easy to forget that God’s power and control are directed towards His children in wisdom, love, and desire for our highest good – even as He pursues His own glory. If He were sovereign without these qualities we might cringingly obey, forced to our knees by His overwhelming mastery, but we would become hateful and resentful. If God were full of gracious character without sovereignty, we would be just as well off with a kindly old grandfather – benevolent but toothless. But our faithful God works through every circumstance, including politics, to confirm us to the image of Christ (our highest good) so that Christ will receive the highest exaltation (God’s greatest glory, and thus our highest joy).
3. Put your hope in the return of Christ not the present earthly situation
1 Pe 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The world despairs and complains about the political situation for good reason, their highest hope is in the people with the greatest power to affect their welfare (governmental authorities). Our hope as believers, however, is not in the latest policies or most recent supreme court appointment, but in the sure return of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. When we walk by the Spirit we remember this and find true joy, when we walk in the flesh the loss of our world-based hopes brings depression and anxiety.
4. Give an account for the hope that is in you – with gentleness and reverence
1 Pe 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
Should the political situation bring hard and difficult days (a near certainty regardless of party affiliation) we will have an excellent opportunity to live with expectant joy not grumbling complaint. The world will wonder at our unusual response and ask us to explain where our true hope lies. Unlike many pseudo-Christian responses to the political situation of our day, being filled with the Spirit will guard us from the caustic, mocking, angry, spiteful vitriol often seen on our social media posts. Instead we will reply with a Spirit empowered gentleness (just the right amount of force needed) and reverence (awe of God which fuels our humble and contrite response).
5. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness
Mt 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
The kingdom of God goes forward regardless of the political regime making the most noise. Kingdom purposes can and must be pursued under any governmental system. When they are, all the physical things that we truly need (like food and clothing) will be provided to us in sufficient measure (even if the measure is not according to our desire!).
6. Keep a Biblical/historical perspective
1 Pe 4:12–14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
There is surprisingly little political angst in the pages of the New Testament. No writer under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit communicates his deep concern for the policies of the latest Caesar, or Herod. About the closest thing to a political statement is Jesus’ exhortation to render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which belongs to Him. This is not exactly the stuff of dark web discussion channels. The one reality of governmental abuse that the NT regularly acknowledge is that of persecution – and this we are told to face with joy and expectation of blessing.
7. Shepherd your family
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
We must work hard not to allow our political concerns to keep us from wisely shepherding our families with Holy Spirit empowered leadership and example. Oh, how the evil one would love to distract parents with political pandering so that they do not live out their Biblical roles as spouses or bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. You have enough in your family to biblically concern you, without being overwhelmed by concerns over the latest congressional legislation.
8. Engage in building and strengthening the church
Eph 4:15–16 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a Spirit filled response to the present political situation will always include active use of our gifts in equipping the saints for the works of service that the church might grow in maturity and faith. The one institution that we are called to pour out our lives for and direct all our interests toward is the “church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15b). Countries and political systems come and go, but the church will go forward and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. There are no two thousand year governments! But there is the church triumphant.
Protect the unity of the church
Eph 4:1–6 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
A corollary to this active building of the body of Christ is alert, discerning effort directed toward protecting our unity. Few things carve up a church like political dissension. Adding a global pandemic to the mix the results in a volatile concoction indeed. One of the Spirit’s primary functions is to empower believers to be of the “same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Philippians 2:2). We must not allow our political desires and concern to cause us to “bite and devour one another, lest we be consumed by each other (Gal 5:15).
Our final principle is Holy Spirit saturated consumption of, and obedience to, the Word of God.
And so, we have our marching orders for the next four years (and then the next four years . . .) – Be Christian not Republican (Or Democrat), Be Angry but Do Not Sin, Be Anxious for Nothing, Be Biblically Political, and Be Filled with the Spirit.
These principles will not make the top ten list on the Rush Limbaugh Show or the Daily Wire, but they should stand you in good stead for a spiritually prosperous political new year.