I know I just offended a bunch of people by using that for a title. Was that on purpose to get your attention? A little. However, it is also very much the point I want to make this morning. Actually, this post has been brewing in my mind for quite a while. I feel it is timely to pull the trigger on it because I live in South Carolina, and we are at the center of the Republican primary fight until Saturday.
Before you get out your pitch forks and torches and come hunting to string me up for making such a claim, please hear me out. This comes from some of the stuff God has been teaching me over the last year, and he is still teaching me even now. I feel like it is time to share some of these thoughts and maybe start a conversation about them. Maybe God is teaching you some of the same things. Maybe he needs you to start thinking about them.
Let me start with my credentials. I am a recovering hardcore conservative. I am still really conservative, but the edges are starting to soften. As long as I can remember, I have been interested in politics and the way the world works. I started watching the news at a very early age, I followed the events of the world, and I asked my dad questions all of the time about America’s leaders (he was a Marine, so I figured he should know). The first time I saw the White House was like going to Disney World for me. One of my prized possessions is the letter I got back from the first President Bush after I wrote to him during the Persian Gulf War.
As I grew up, I became more and more set in my political thoughts. I was a proud Republican. I thought the Religious Right was always right. Conservative became a badge I loved to wear. I was really into the primary politics during the year I was a senior in college. I really felt like I was being a good Christian to be pulling for the “good guys.” When I met Christians who labeled themselves “liberal,” I almost always doubted their faith. I did not know how that could be possible.
That pretty much stayed somewhat the same until very recently, except for the doubting of people’s faith…I stopped doing that a long time ago. God really did a work on the amount of trust and stock I put into politics and conservatism as a movement. When God took a hold of me last year and shook me awake, he opened my eyes to who he is, what the world is for, and my place in it all. A part of this was seeing that maybe there is more than labels like conservative and liberal and more than who might be in office at any given time. Maybe I need to put less worry into it. Maybe God is in control way more than I give him credit for.
As I wiped the sleep from my spiritual eyes, I started to realize a few things that I need to refocus on:
- God is sovereign, and this includes our government. No matter who is leading our country, the bills they are passing, or how much it seems they are ruining or helping the “American way,” God is not asleep at the wheel. He knows what is going on. He has been around a while. He has seen countries come and go. As a matter of fact, he was the one who caused the comings and the goings. He knows what he is doing. If a democrat or republican becomes president, it is not like this is a shock to him. Like what this means or not, who ever sits in the Oval Office was put there by the Almighty himself. Really. Romans 13:1 says, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” All authority comes from God. That means it truly comes from him and is intended by him. Those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. Despite what you might think about it, God put both George W. Bush and Barack Obama in the role of President. Really. I know that may be hard for people on both sides of the matter to take, but it is true. God is ultimately in control. We kind of just need to deal with it, trust him, and get to the bigger job of loving him and loving others.
- I need to trust and submit to what ever authority I am under, even if they are a different political party. Not that there is anything wrong with supporting and being involved with a political party, I myself fully intend to vote in the republican primary on Saturday. We live in a democratic republic (those of my readers who live in the US, at least), and we have the right to vote. We need to take advantage of that. However, there has to be more to life than that. Be involved, but we can not make that our identity. God has called us to so much more than politics. We can write to Congress and try to get our voices heard, but there has to be more than that. At some point we need to realize that God put these people where they are, and though we disagree we need to submit to their authority. Do what you can to get things changed, but do not make this your whole life. God has called us to two major jobs, and that is to love him and love others. We can do that no matter who is in office and what they are doing. We can do that even if we had a monarch or dictator (though it would be more difficult). When we submit to our rulers, we are really submitting to God. That is what we are supposed to do. If you doubt, go read further in Romans 13. Verses 2 through 5 are pretty clear on this point.
- Agree or disagree with taxes and what they go to pay, we need to pay them. I intended to just focus on trusting and submitting to authority, but I decided to end out Paul’s thoughts in Romans 13. The final thoughts on government are in verses 6 and 7, “Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.” I know I might be opening a can of worms on the taxes thing, but if we are to trust and submit to our government, we need to pay our taxes and move on. Seriously. It would be nice to have extra money, but we need to trust what God is doing. Use your vote to try to change things. Write a Congress person or two, but just move on. Don’t spend your life worrying about the taxes. God is in control and he will take care of you.
That brings us back to the title. Jesus did vote democrat in 2008, and his vote was the only one that counted. The hard part for us, especially as free-voting Americans, is to realize that no matter who “wins” office it is God-ordained and our job to realize God’s authority through it. Politics can not run our lives. Worry about who is in leadership has never been meant to be. Yes, we do need to do our part, vote, and contact leaders when we disagree. In the same note, we need to move past that and look for what God has for us to do day to day. Even if our country fails and we are thrown into uncertainty, God is still God and he is still in control.
So go vote, but also love everyone around you and show them God’s love…no matter who they vote for.
Father, Jesus, and Spirit, please help me know your authority and submit to it. Help me to see you no matter who is in office. Thank you. I love you. Your son, Joe.