The questions and conversations surrounding this election have been intense, confusing, and unsettling. I’m sure you are like me and tired of the charged rhetoric. If we’re not careful, our actions and conversations can mimic the very practices we detest. For that reason, I am affirming five commitments that I want to use to define every response I have to this unpredictable time. They are good reminders for any time, political or personal, when circumstances seem governed by people who seek their own way more than God’s.
1. I commit to respect the office of any governing official.
Romans 13:1 reminds me that “all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. (NIV) The office is not the person and the person is not the office. By respecting the office, I obey God’s authority over me as my first step.
2. I commit to speak with Christian courtesy about any governing official.
I have no influence in volatile situations without Christian courtesy. This is not doormat mentality. This is Christlike behavior. Jesus was never rude. He never adopted manipulative or self-serving debate. His words and actions, even when divisive, were candid and focused to bring another person closer to kingdom life.
3. I commit to pray for those elected to govern.
If I speak against elected officials, how am I able to pray for them? Character speaks for itself. I don’t have to berate or debate it. Personally, I find that the more I engage in negative conversations that put another person down, I am woefully unprepared to pray for the person. Of course I am concerned about character flaws, sinful actions, and the misuse of power wherever it exits in our government, church, or families. Praying for God to use this context, this person, this office, to open the eyes of the blind must define the tenor and template of every prayer.
4. I affirm that God’s authority is over all authority, elected or appointed.
It’s not hard to find stories in the Bible where the people were divided over how to be governed. Nor is it difficult to find stories where leaders ruled in God-defying ways. Because we know the end of these stories from their beginning, we see how God used the people and circumstances to bring about His will. Why do we act as if these times are any different to God? He still has authority over all. I affirm that it is “better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in people.” (Psalm 117:8)
5. I affirm that God can use any elected office or person to execute His will.
This affirmation has never been more important in my lifetime than now. If I believe God holds all the strings and will pull the right ones at the right time, even if I am caught in times of injustice or inconvenience; I will still affirm God’s authority working in unseen ways to bring about His will. I must affirm this with all my heart so that it will translate into my life, my conversations, and my prayers.
I believe we have never had a better time to exercise our Christian faith than now, to say with our actions even more than our words, “Our God reigns.” Are we up for the task? Do we have the spiritual restraint and boldness in the right balance to make the difference in our unbelieving culture? How else will our world come know the unfailing love of God?