[No, I’m not taking sides publically one way or the other. I have voted already (with absentee ballot), but I’m not giving that away, either. In this post, I will speak as part of a collective, though my opinions or experience may not be the same as the generalizations made.]
Many evangelical Christians support John McCain, and would be devastated if Barack Obama were to win the White House next week. It doesn’t sound as if there is a great exodus planned in that event, as many hardcore Democrats threaten every election to “run for the border” of Canada should a Republican take office. Still, the disappointment of “losing” the top office in the country to such a staunch liberal would eventually manifest itself in our pulpits, our magazines, books, and coffee house conversations. All of this leads me to the number one reason I believe Barack Obama might win on November 4th.
We live in a day and age when submission is deemed a relic of the past. Our own intellect and passions lead us to believe that our way must be the best way, regardless of the cost. Churches split over differences of opinion in worship styles, preaching styles, dress codes, and other ridiculous reasons. Legalism used to flow out of the pulpit down to the pew, letting the pastor create, communicate, and uphold the code of the day. Now the pew is in control, binding the hands of the pulpit, regardless of the age or mindset of the pastor, so that change, renewal and growth become near impossible to achieve.
This philosophy spills over into other areas of life. I lived and ministered on Cape Cod for a number of years. The number of small businesses competing for the same market in an area of such low population was staggering. As an example, everyone who could swing a hammer was out to start his own construction company. In the church I served in, with less than 120 in total attendance each week, there were four building “companies.” Each of them had a poor reputation of completing tasks because they overbooked their time on multiple projects, spent their days running between two or three of them, and then took longer time than expected to complete them. Imagine if these men had joined together and worked as partners. What more could they accomplish together than on their own?
The main problem was one of authority. Each construction company was headed by a guy who thought it was better to work for himself, getting a bigger slice of the profits and managing his own work and hours, rather than submitting to a boss who might do things differently.
Back to the 2008 Election.
Evangelicals have, for the most part, considered the eight GW Bush years as a victory. We have esteemed our President and his authority because he believes what we believe, stands for what we stand for. The overall sense is that Barack Obama does not, and so we couldn’t possibly stand the thought that he be elected as President.
After all, we spent the Clinton years bashing our President. This man committed adultery while in office, was caught lying under oath, and deserved whatever we could throw at him. It was all too easy to consider ourselves outside of his authority, unable to submit to, much less honor, a man such as he.
The problem is, we have set precedent over sixteen years that as long as the man in charge agrees with us, we’ll support him. Otherwise, step out of the way as we lower our barrels and throw all we can muster at him. But does the Bible support such teeter-totter submission to authority?
This summer I read John Bevere’s book, Under Cover (you can read my review here). Take a look through the key Scripture verse of the book:
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2, NKJV).
It’s time for the Church to be reminded about the issue of authority. If we are being led by someone we disagree with or even dislike, we do not have the option of denigrating him before one another or society. In the case of the American Presidency, we cannot take a vote of confidence in a secret meeting and call him the next day to have him removed. We have at least four years to unquestionably submit to him.
Consider the people of Judah and Israel. There were many God-fearing kings, and many evil kings. Ahab was one of the worst of these. Did his leadership drive Elijah to start a blog reprimanding and ripping apart the king? The only time Elijah spoke of the king’s evil ways was when he spoke for God, to the man’s face. John the Baptist served the same way. When Herod married his brother’s wife, Herodias, did he start a website that listed all of the reasons God’s judgment was coming on Herod? Again, the prophet spoke only when God’s word was delivered to the guilty party.
Perhaps it’s time for us to swallow our pride and learn how to follow again. We are supposed to encourage and pray for our leaders, not send them hate mail and form picket lines. Whoever finds his place behind the desk in the Oval Office in January will have been placed there by God. To deny him honor and respect is to shout to the world that we don’t trust God enough to know what He is doing.
And we bring judgment on ourselves, committing an act that David chose not to when given the opportunity. David had the “right” to kill, or at least injure, King Saul. He had dodged spears and lived on the run, knowing that his return meant certain death. Saul was God’s anointed. Of course, David was God’s anointed, too, chosen to succeed Saul. But David understood that his job was to honor the man God put in charge, while he trusted God to take of his own future. Regardless of his follies, spiritual failures and personal shortcomings, Saul’s life was never a topic at David’s dinner table. After the king’s death, David mourned the loss of Saul.
May God grant us the love and mercy to care for, honor, and uplift whichever man stands at the helm of our great country. May we consider it a blessing to be obedient to the authority God has placed in our lives.