Like we experience every four years, things are starting to get crazy. You’re guaranteed to have (or are probably already having) some interesting discussions in your family, with your coworkers, and on social media.
With the blaring news alerts and hysterical posts pushing us to support or oppose some group or policy, it’s easy to forget that we as Christians have an allegiance to Christ and his kingdom more than any current or desired earthly kingdom. Here are five resolutions we can make over the next month to keep our priorities straight.
1. We’ll trust God’s sovereignty.
There is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. (Romans 13:1)
God is the one who ultimately decides who our leaders will be, and he puts them in charge for a reason. Even when it seems like our rulers are derailing God’s plan, we can trust that God’s got it all under control.
When evil king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Israel and enslaved God’s chosen people, God said, “ I have placed all these lands under the authority of my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. … All nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson” (Jeremiah 27:6-7). God uses even rulers who are opposed to him and his people to advance his divine plan. We’ll trust his sovereignty no matter who wins this election.
2. We’ll respect our authorities.
Let everyone submit to the governing authorities … for it is God’s servant for your good. (Romans 13:1,4)
The word “servant” comes from the Greek word diakonos, where we get the word “deacon.” Paul wrote the letter to Romans during the reign of Nero, and he used the same title for evil emperors as he did for saints who were serving the church. Why? Because both of them are ultimately serving God, whether they know it or not.
And even if they aren’t good in and of themselves, God sovereignly ensures that they accomplish good. So when we respect our earthly authorities, especially the ones we don’t like or agree with, we’re showing that we respect the heavenly Authority above them.
3. We won’t get hysterical.
Do not call everything a conspiracy that these people say is a conspiracy. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified. You are to regard only the Lord of Armies as holy. Only he should be feared; only he should be held in awe. (Isaiah 8:12-13)
Christians are really good at getting hysterical. I get messages almost every day from Christians who believe that somebody is conspiring to take over the country, and if they succeed, then the church in America will die.
When Isaiah wrote the passage above, exhorting the king of Judah not to fear conspiracies, the Northern Kingdom of Israel actually was conspiring with the evil king of Assyria to take over God’s chosen nation, Judah. The king had every right to fear conspiracy. But Isaiah reminded him that people might think they are conspiring against God, but he is the Lord of Armies. The King of the Universe. If you fear him, you don’t need to fear anything else.
4. We’ll serve our community.
For this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor. Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:6-8)
Why does Paul specifically mention paying taxes as an example of submitting to our authorities? Twice? Because paying taxes means being a contributing member of society. It means being part of the solution, not part of the problem. That’s why Paul then commands us to fulfill the law by loving our neighbor.
To him, showing love to our neighbors is the best way to honor and respect the authorities. One big way we can contribute to society is by loving our families, loving our neighbors, and loving our coworkers. We’ll commit to serving our communities as an expression of our love for God.
5. We’ll look forward to a better kingdom.
These huge beasts, four in number, are four kings who will rise from the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever, yes, forever and ever. (Daniel 7:17-18)
Until Jesus returns, we’ll never have the kind of kingdom we’re really longing for. What we’ve got right now is nothing more than a succession of beasts. In the passage above God portrays every human kingdom as a deformed, corrupted beast, and we can see it. We see beastly behavior all the time in our nation.
When we do, our instinct is to come up with new laws, policies, and programs to make the beast act less like a beast. Depending on your political persuasion, you’ll have different opinions on how to do that. If you’re more on the conservative side, you’ll want to see greater law and order. If you’re more on the liberal side, you’ll want to see more justice and equality.
All of those are good goals we should be striving for in our nation, but we can’t expect the beast to stop being a beast. Every nation will always be corrupted in some way. Only God’s nation, inaugurated by the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ, and fulfilled at his return, will give us everything we’re hoping for.
We’ve got no hope but Jesus. Let’s do everything in our power to point people to him over the next month!