“It’s the end of the world as we know it . . .
Posted by Aaron Knight on October 28, 2008
. . . and I feel fine.” So goes the chorus on R.E.M.’s song by the same title. In some ways those lyrics sum up how I feel about our upcoming presidential election. Because when you watch too much cable news, listen to talk radio, or even some talk among Christians, you can get the idea that America’s ultimate fate hangs in the balance of this vote. Couple that with some good ol’ New World Order speculation, or toss in a little Left Behind narrative, and voila! The election has taken on apocalyptic proportions. It’s the end of the world as we know it!
Don’t get me wrong. I believe this election is very important. At issue in this election is the extent to which the federal government should be involved in solving the problems of American citizens. As economic instability undermines financial markets here and abroad, our choices for president and congressmen take on dramatic weight. The next administration will likely appoint Supreme Court Justices. Terrorists still scheme harm against us. As citizens of this great democracy, we have enormous responsibility to be educated, to vote, and to consider seriously how our faith impacts all of life, both private and political. This is a momentous time for America.
And yet . . .
I wonder if as Christians we need to step back from the hand-wringing and radio-talking and obsessive poll-tracking and ask a basic question: Where is God in all this? The Bible answers unequivocally: God is sovereign over the nations. All the nations. Including America.
The prophet Isaiah gives us needed perspective. “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket” compared to God (Is 40:15). He goes on to say about God, “He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing” (Is 40:23). The apostle Paul affirms that God has instituted all earthly authorities (Rom 13:1). God rules the rulers. God is guiding all nations, and all things, according to a wise, majestic plan for his glory.
Furthermore, we see that God’s great plan for the nations centers on bringing his salvation to all peoples through Jesus. Jesus told his disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him, and therefore his disciples were to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). And we look forward to the great day in heaven when that task is complete, and people from every tribe, tongue, people and nation will worship before God’s throne because they were redeemed by Christ (Rev 5:9; 7:9).
So as Christians who are also Americans, we find ourselves in an interesting tension. On the one hand, as Americans we have an immense privilege and responsibility to participate in the democratic process. It would be poor stewardship, to say the least, for us to not care about the election. So read up. Listen to the candidates. Form an educated opinion. Campaign and vote your conscience. We need to participate for the economic, political and moral good of this great nation. This election matters.
On the other hand, remember that we have been naturalized by God’s grace into another country. This other state is a monarchy ruled by the King of kings who reigns over all nations. And so whatever happens on November 4, and whichever way the stock market moves, and regardless whether the planet is warming or cooling, we have a transcendent confidence that God is ruling over the world, that he has a master plan, and that it will be for his glory and our ultimate joy. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth” (Ps 46:10).
And furthermore the King calls us beyond our American identity to an international citizenship based on faith in Jesus. We are first and foremost the people “in Christ.” As citizens of God’s kingdom we have bigger concerns than American stability. We desire to see Jesus magnified as individuals from all the earth’s people groups come to worship him. I asked a pastor friend in Detroit what it’s like ministering there with all the troubles facing auto makers. He said, “It’s creating a great opportunity for people to see that they need to put their faith completely in Jesus.” Now that’s a kingdom perspective on American troubles.
So, yes, this election matters. I suppose it’s even possible developments may be afoot that will bring the end of the world as we know it. You never know. But when I lift up my eyes to God’s throne, and I set my heart on his greal global purpose, I feel fine.
- Pastor Jeramie