When Bill Clinton ran for his second term in office, praying for “God’s will to be done” was de rigeur for my prayer time.
Imagine my shock and surprise when Clinton won the election! Confused (because we were all believing Clinton would be set aside), I sought the Lord’s counsel, and was reminded that we had diligently prayed and believed for His will to be done. Hmm.
Urged to pray, pray, pray before the 2008 election, I complied. Try as I might, I could not bring myself to name any candidate (this was even before the primary elections were held). All I could pray was “Lord, Your will be done, on earth as it is done in heaven.”
As conservative and liberal rhetoric and propaganda increased, the Lord directed me to Paul’s letter to the church at Rome:
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Rom 13:1-2, NIV
If Paul could write those words while subject to persecution at the hands of Roman emperors like Nero, surely we could trust Him to get us through this election, no matter what. And then, the “unthinkable” occurred. We elected a *gasp* Democrat. A liberal Democrat, a black Democrat, a Democrat who has freely admitted he didn’t accept Christ until he was in his adulthood! Accusations flew. Dirty politics got even dirtier, and we didn’t think that was possible.
Two and a half years later, I’m more concerned about the state of church than ever before. Almost daily I receive emails, FB posts and links from fellow believers whose focus seems to be turned almost exclusively toward America’s political regime. Some of these are saturated with hatred. Others with fear. All with absolute assurance that the only administration God would appoint over the U.S. would be one from a specific political party, persuasion, or platform. Nothing I’ve heard or received has encouraged or supported prayer and faith directed toward the current administration. Do we believe Romans 13, or not?
Many of the Jews who followed Jesus, including those who accompanied Him into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday, expected Him to be the solution to their political problems, to restore power and authority as they believed God intended. No one expected Him to be crucified between two thieves less than a week after His triumphal entry. Bible commentators have written about the disappointment and frustration evident even among the disciples closest to Him when it became apparent He wasn’t going to rise up politically and/or militarily and take back the government of Israel. Some have suggested that Judas’ betrayal was a wild attempt to “force” Jesus to step up and take what most of His followers believed to be His place. How many of those who had followed Him when all was well fell away, discouraged and disillusioned, when Roman rule carried on as usual after the resurrection?
Are we making the same mistake? Are we looking to changes in our our political system for our salvation from current circumstances? Are we secretly believing that having the “right” person in the presidency or the “right” party in control of the House and/or Senate will ease our socio-economic woes, solve the international crises we face around the planet, fix the unusually ugly weather we keep seeing, and bring gas prices back to “normal”?
Do we really believe one political party is somehow closer to God than the other? The Pharisees and Saducees (Jewish sects, the equivalent of our political parties) each believed they were right, and were the answer for all Israel’s problems. Both were wrong.
We must be careful. Our citizenship is in heaven. Our economy is God’s economy. We are, as believers, members of the household of God. To place our trust, our faith, our expectations, in any man or system of man, is to set ourselves up for disappointment. Are the results of our faith, our prayers, our believing, affected by which political party has control of Congress? I certainly hope not.
My God is bigger than that.