It seems to happen regularly every four years that people stop me to ask, “Who are you voting for in this election?” This year is somewhat different even from the ones I’ve seen before. I’m amazed at how often along with the question another comment follows, usually before I have a chance to answer their question. “Man I just can’t imagine voting for either of the two we have to choose from.” I’ve tried to come up with some kind of decent answer to the question but I don’t think my answers have been satisfactory for most. While I’m not going to talk about who I will vote for since I tend to keep that private, let me share some things that all of us should bear in mind.
First, remember that God controls and uses all kinds of people, not just those who are Christians. Sometimes our lack of understanding of the Old Testament leads to problems for us and this is the case on this point. If you read and believe the Old Testament then it is obvious God raised up the rulers of the different nations and had them do different things in line with his will, even though they weren’t Jews and didn’t believe in Him as the one God. Consider how he raised up Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon to punish Israel for their sin and rebellion against the Lord. When he became arrogant God brought him down and had him to live like an animal for some seven periods of time. When the time came for his empire to come tumbling down, God raised up the Medes and Persians to take down the mighty Babylonians. Amazingly, God had his prophets foretell the arising of Cyrus, king of Persia who would take out the Babylonian Empire, long before Cyrus was even born. Was he a believer in the Lord? No, but God used him to free his people and to allow them to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and later rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Still today, God is in control and he still raises up the rulers of the different parts of the world and takes them down. Even the most arrogant and self-willed person can be used by God to fulfill His plans.
Second, remember that even the heathen leaders are still “ministers of God to execute wrath on the sons of disobedience.” We are challenged by both Peter and Paul to Honor those rulers of the world. Strangely at the very time Peter wrote for us to honor the king, the ruler in Rome was a man named Nero, who was one of the worst kings to reign in Rome or anywhere else. I know there are tons of rulers who are headed in their own direction and do not believe in the Lord God in any way. But God remains at the controls and will lead them to do what he calls on them to do without them ever knowing that he is there at all. We may well say, “I can’t honor or respect a person like Nero.” We might add the names of those running for the Presidency in this country now. But the point remains the same, we are commanded to “Honor the king.” So, we show honor due to a person’s place and not based on the character of the person holding that position.
Third, I need to keep on praying for those who will become the leaders of tomorrow and the ones who are leading today. There are still almost 8 months while the present President will be in the job. Pray for him and that God will guide him in the way he wants him to go. Remember that sometimes God raises up rulers for the purpose of punishing his people for their failures in living for Him. So, the fact one is doing things that don’t seem right to us, doesn’t mean they aren’t being led by God. It may mean the exact opposite. Paul was writing to his young friend Timothy explaining to him how to be a good minister for Christ when he said, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live a peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (I Timothy 2:1-2) Notice it isn’t just to pray for their general welfare. It was to pray that they would rule in such a way that we as Christians might lead a peaceful and quiet life in godliness and holiness. Sometimes the decisions that bring such peace and opportunity for us may not seem like things that are good for us at all. Sometimes, I suspect the way God leads a person to rule or lead is because we as his children haven’t been praying for the leaders and the results are tragic.
Fourth, do what is right yourself and encourage others to do the same. Whether we have the leaders that we want or believe are the right ones shouldn’t change how we live and act on a daily basis. We ought to be those who are good citizens doing our best in service to our God all the time. If we spend our time griping about the leaders and all we think they are doing wrong, it will be true that about half the population will be completely turned off by our words and actions. I care about who becomes the president. But I’m far more concerned about reaching people and encouraging them for God than I am about who is president and about their success in office. I want a good president and I want them to make good decisions. But presidents and countries come and go but the gospel of Christ stays the same no matter who is president or even whether this country stands or falls. Even if the candidate that I think is the worst of all becomes the president, I need to be praying for them and being the right kind of person myself everyday anyway. I need to remember what matters and that reaching people for God matters more than any of the other things can.
So, who are you for? I’m for Jesus. I’m for God the Father. I’m for the Holy Spirit of God. I’m for reaching as many for God as I possibly can. Everything else pales by comparison.