The 2012 presidential election was a bitter pill to swallow. We oppose the President on moral grounds (e.g. his rabid support of abortion and homosexuality), but there are too few Americans who know what morality is these days. It is easy to despair with thoughts of gloom and doom, but a dose of Scripture helps put it all in right perspective. For the Christian there is not only a silver lining to a dark cloud, but a big blue sky, above which God smiles down on his own.
Our reins are still in God’s hands. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov. 21:1, ESV). That includes the President. Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way “that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Dan. 4:17, 25, 32). Jesus reminded Governor Pilate the only reason the latter had any authority was because God gave it to him (John 19:10-11). Whether we think it looks that way to our feeble eyes, God is still in ultimate control.
Our riches are still flowing. Jeremiah had to live in dark days, when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. He wrote of “my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall” and that his soul was continually bowed down (Lam. 3:19-20). Yet, in the very next verses, he wrote of hope because the “steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lam. 3:21-24). Government does affect the supply of certain things, such as money, jobs, freedoms. But God’s supply line does not go through Washington. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
Our reputation is tied to God’s family. When Paul reprimanded the Corinthian church for members suing other members, he asked, “if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?” (1 Cor. 6:4). The residence of greatest honor is not the White House; it is the Lord’s house. And the President himself, not being a Christian (per the Bible’s definition), has no standing in the Lord’s church, which is the place where standing truly counts. The world’s power-brokers may never know our names, but God’s family has standing in God’s eyes. And that is the only reputation that will matter, come Judgment Day.
Our responsibility to government never compromises our Christianity. True, we have a duty to pay taxes (Luke 20:25; Rom. 13:7), and our taxes will likely go up next year. But, isn’t it great that God has not left us without direction when there is conflict between government and the gospel? If it comes to that, then we “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Government never trumps the Good Book. God’s kingdom comes before my country. If right is outlawed and wrong is legalized, God’s truth remains the same (cf. John 12:48).
Our resistance has not cost our blood. Some early Christians were reminded, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb. 12:4). We freely assemble, freely teach, freely put articles in the newspaper, and no one has arrested us, shot at us, or beat us up. Of course, if we faced those consequences, our duty would remain. So let us be glad America still has a religious freedom that Paul and the apostles never knew.
Our reasons to rejoice are better than anyone’s. John wrote that he “rejoiced greatly” to learn of faithful Christians, and wanted them to go on to “win a full reward” (2 John 4, 8). Winning that reward by far eclipses winning any political election. In fact, winning the presidency pales to insignificance next to the reward of which John wrote. How can a four-year term of earthly power begin to compare with eternal life?
Our rulers are headed to judgment like everyone else. Judgment Day is not just for the “average Joe,” which is why John “saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne” to be sentenced based on their past deeds (Rev. 20:12). None will miss that appointment, including governors, congressmen, judges (cf. Heb. 9:27). John paints a terrifying scene where the world’s elite desperately, but in vain, try to hide from divine punishment. “Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?'” (Rev. 6:15-17).
Our reward is safe from the wicked. As Jesus noted, our money may be stolen on earth, but treasure in heaven is beyond any thief’s grasp (Matt. 6:20). A pleasant thought, that there will be no taxes in heaven. No onerous regulations. No ruler who constantly requires more and more of citizens, giving less and less in return. The Lord observed that kings do not require taxes of their own sons, indicating that sons are “free” in a way others are not (cf. Matt. 17:24-26). As sons and daughters of God, we will experience ultimate freedom and blessing in heaven where the inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Pet. 1:4). In other words, our real wealth is off-limits to any American President or Congress. Our country has much to offer, but “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).