In America, we are firm believers in self-governance. We believe that our collective will determines the fate and direction of our nation. What we, as believers, often don’t realize is that has always been the case, in every government.
The tricky thing about politics and governmental leadership is that it has always been determined by the Lord, not people. Paul tells us this:
1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Those are hefty words, in direct opposition to much of what we believe and stand for in America. So how do they fit into our democratic worldview?
Who Calls The Shots?
Let me first say that I am a proud American, and I truly believe that our democratic republic is a great thing. I think we should all exercise our right to vote and be fully engaged in politics. The Lord is the one calling the shots, but He always uses people in the process. I would much rather honest men and women who live with integrity be the ones He’s using. But that begs us to reconcile what Paul said with our form of government.
First, know that Paul’s words were not suspended by the penning of our Constitution. The Lord is still the One who has the final vote for each of our elected leaders. That leads us to some important conclusions:
- Our votes do not count if they are not in line with God’s will
- Every leader, whether we vote for them or not, is actually elected by God
- We must realize that when evil people are elected, they were placed there by God
- Governmental leadership reflects God’s will over a nation
If you are a red-blooded American, those conclusions should be chilling. They go against everything we believe in. But they are true today like they were when Paul wrote them. In essence, when you vote, you are either voting with the will of the Lord, or voting against it. The outcome is always His.
And that brings us to where our real power lies. It isn’t in voting. It isn’t in activism. It isn’t in public opinion. It is in the courts of heaven.
Prayer is our true power when we consider the direction of our nation. If it is God determining who wins elections, shouldn’t we spend most of our political energy speaking with Him about it? Again, politics and activism aren’t bad, but they are deadly apart from a prayer life with God. He is the one with whom our votes count. Lobby your vote with Him first and often. With God, you get as many votes as you make time for.
Some Case Stories
Let’s look at two case stories, David and Rehoboam. They were both kings of Israel, grandfather and grandson. David was the “man after God’s own heart,” while Rehoboam acted wickedly. I encourage you to read both of these stories in 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21 and 1 Kings 12.
In 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, we are told that David decided to count his fighting men. But something else was going on. God had seen that the people of Israel had acted wickedly and were to be judged. We aren’t told for what, but we know that God’s judgments are always true and righteous. Piecing the two stories together, we see that God allowed Satan to tempt David, in much the same way we see in the book of Job. David gave into Satan’s tempting and sinned by counting his fighting men. When Joab, the most wicked man in David’s court, saw that this was a bad idea, we know that things are afoot.
But what was happening was the sovereignty of God at play. David was His chosen leader, carrying out a plan God had already made. David’s actions were simply reflecting the will and sin of the nation. God was not judging Israel just for David’s sin, but for some collective sin they were involved in.
In the same way, Rehoboam made a terrible decision. He chose to rebel against reason and counsel and it plunged his nation into civil war. But all this was done to fulfill God’s will for the nation to split it apart, as He had promised Solomon He would do years before.
The Tail That Wags
Nothing has changed today. God still calls the shots. When we see politicians making incredibly poor decisions, our first reaction is normally outrage and incredulity, but we should truly be humbled. When we see the leaders God has put in place make poor decisions, we should know that more than likely they are simply reflecting the will of their people that God sees.
God sees what is hidden. Most sin is hidden. But God makes what is hidden open for all to see. In the case of politics, He does that through politicians. He gives us the leaders that our secret lives scream for. If our nation has turned its back on God, who else will God give us other than godless leaders? If our nation engages in oppression, murder and bribery, who will God give us but leaders that will partake in it as well?
Leaders are important, but in a strange way, they very often only do what the will of the people want them to do. Not because they have been elected by man to do so, but because they have been elected by God to do so.
So the next time “your guy” loses, ask God why. The next time you see a godly leader make a terrible decision, ask God if He is simply allowing our leaders to reflect the sinful will of those around us.
But most of all, ask God. Ask God what He thinks. Ask Him how we can change things. Ask Him to show you those around you that need His love, grace and salvation. Our nation will not be turned through politics, but through the gospel.