Regardless of the election results, honor the emperor

Tomorrow, the United States of America will finally have an election in what has to have been the nastiest, most vilifying campaign ever.

Come January, we’ll likely install as our chief executive a criminally dishonest woman who basically leads the death cult known as the pro-abortion movement, would throw us into a pointless war with Russia and helped her husband turn the White House into a brothel.

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Or we’ll swear in an unrepentant serial adulterer who can’t keep a promise to a wife, a man who brags about sexual assault, who says he’d force the military to commit war crimes, makes fun of disabled people, might be pro-life or pro-choice (literally depending on what hour it is), and would engage in economic protectionism that would result in almost everything costing more. Whoever is elected is sure to implement liberty destroying authoritarian policies that will likely leave the United States in a worse place than before.

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So what should Christians do about it?

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” – Romans 13:1

But Hillary murders babies, and Trump is practically Hitler.

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” – 1 Peter 2:17

Over and over again, the Bible tells us to basically not freak out over earthly governments. People are depraved. Governments are comprised of people. Therefore, governments will be corrupt. At the same time, God uses governments to render punishment for evil in the world, to promote good and to accomplish his own purposes. Keep in mind that that these biblical passages were written while nearly every Christian was under the subjugation of the Roman empire, and Rome wasn’t always so nice to the church.

They had a bad time.
They had a bad time.

That doesn’t mean that biblical writers never have criticisms of those in authorities. Jesus called the Pharisees snakes and sons of the devil. Paul called the Pharisees a bunch of “whitewashed walls.” Depending on your eschatology, John may have called Nero “the Great Beast.” So, yes, there’s a time for blunt truth.

At the same time, 1 Peter 3 tells us to make our defense of the Gospel “with gentleness and respect,” and Colossians 4 says our words should “always be gracious, seasoned with salt.” 2 Timothy 2 commands us to not be quarrelsome, and 2 Thessalonians 2 tells us not to be easily alarmed. I have absolutely failed at living up to those commands.

But commands with no root are ultimately self-help with a little Jesus added. The foundation of all these is the Gospel itself. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul is adamant about his rights (which, yes, we have as Christians) but that giving up those rights in order to save some to the Gospel is far more important. Paul invoked his rights as a Roman citizen when necessary and used his Jewish heritage as an example, but his focus wasn’t to Make Jerusalem Great Again or to change the empire through political means. Check out how respectful he was in Acts 26. He knew that the only meaningful change in the world is when hearts are changed via the Gospel. When we call out national sin or governmental corruption, we should do so with their salvific interests in mind. It’s not so much about us being awesome and them being wrong and fixing it but about seeking their repentance and ultimate faith in God.

Before Jesus left the earth, he told his disciples that all authority had been given to him. I don’t know about your exegetical methods, but I’m fairly sure that “all” there means “all.” As in, Jesus is sovereign over this election. Jesus is sovereign over whether or not you’ll make it to the polls safely tomorrow. Jesus is sovereign over those some who would be saved that Paul was talking about. Jesus is so sovereign that he shuts up those who criticize him and that every knee will bow at the simple mention of his name.

It doesn’t stop there, however, because when God adopted us into his family, we became heirs with Jesus, so the universe is already ours through Christ anyway. Why would we freak out over four piddly years worth of rule in a temporary nation, when our citizenship isn’t ultimately of this world in the first place?

Sure, vote tomorrow based on your conscience. Someone will win, and I have strong negative feelings about both likely candidates, but don’t put your faith in the office of the presidency or in power of the United States of America or in the very existence of the United States of America. Put your faith in Jesus, because he’s in control of the whole thing anyway.

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