With less than 35 days until the 2020 presidential (and other) elections, the hype and threats are being geared up to levels unprecedented in my lifetime. One Christian magazine has flatly stated that Christians “must” support Trump (not sure what the penalty is if one doesn’t) while the other side is threatening riots in the streets (nothing new there) if Biden doesn’t win.
Whatever happens in less than those 35 days, people’s heads are likely to metaphorically explode. Whoever gets elected.
As for me, I confess that I do not vote for person or party. I vote for platform and for issues important to me. I voted for Zell Miller when he was a Democratic candidate for the governorship of Georgia and I once served as a vice-president for the Republican Party in the county where I resided at the time.
I believe, as a Christian, that God will have in office who He wants in office. Now I realize that people will scoff at that, but being scoffed at is really nothing new for me. Romans 13 makes it clear, to me at least, that God is the final decider of who leads. The Apostle Paul states that “there is no authority except from God, and those (authorities) which exist are established by God.” Paul wrote this when his nation, and the world he knew, was dominated by the Roman Empire, which was not known, for the first 300 years or so, to be a friend of the Church.
In fact, he goes on to say elsewhere in the chapter that, “…he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God, and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Further, he says, “for rulers are servants of God…” Christians are to pray for those in authority, regardless of the person who holds the office, and to obey the law unless that law conflicts with the Word of God.
You see, whoever gets elected will receive the prayers of our church and many churches throughout the nation. Why? Because we are commanded to do so. As far back as 1789, this prayer was found in the Book of Common Prayer and, in some churches, has been in continuous use since that time:
“A Prayer for The President of the United States, and all in Civil Authority.
O Lord, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favour to behold and bless thy servant THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
And even that prayer was modeled after prayers for kings and other rulers. So, we will pray for President Trump or President Biden or, if there is a great surprise, another person in that office.
I believe that God will very often use a leader, whether he or she knows it or not — or even if that person is not a believer — for His own purposes. It may be that the person will be used to bless a nation. Or the person may be used for the nation’s chastisement. Time will tell which of the two it will be.
I am aware that many will see that viewpoint as simplistic and can dredge up leaders from history who were terribly evil. None of that negates the teachings of Romans 13. Even as Roman emperors were making martyrs of Christians, those same persecuted believers were praying for the one who was in authority over them.
People often look to politicians or parties as the “saviors” of the nation. They are not. It is folly to believe and act as though they are. Psalm 20:7 states, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (KJV). When Christians look to people or party, they are creating a false god. False gods do not have the power to save a nation.
Second Chronicles 7:14 does give direction to believers who wish to see positive change: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
My guess is that it is much easier to rail, shout, accuse, argue, criticize, riot, curse, and hate than it is to become humble, pray, seek God, repent, and alter behavior. It is no wonder why we do not expect God to hear, forgive, and heal. So we rely on the false gods of party and personality. It is said that one definition of insanity is “to continue to do what you have always done in the expectation of different results.” So, yes, the entire nation is a bit insane. A short visit on social media should confirm that allegation.
Nevertheless, I will educate myself on the issues, will prayerfully consider what should be done, and I will go vote. And whatever happens on the day appointed I will say, “I trust you, Lord.”
I will do that not knowing whether the person will be a blessing, or a curse, or a bit of both. God is in control. He delegates His authority. And I will continue to pray for mercy.
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the crisis, the church is live streaming at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays at http://www.facebook.com/cctksharpsburg/ He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South He may contacted at email@example.com.]