Politics are notorious for degenerating into a cesspool of vitriolic jabs and pessimistic pontifications. Often lost in the tumultuous tempest is common decency and respect. As tomorrow is election day, I think it is fitting to share some concepts I have found convicting in this election season.
We need to respect political leaders. It is our job as Christians to respect those in authority. As Paul says in Romans 13, political rulers are “God’s servant[s]” who “carr[y] out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” If we do not give honor or respect to the governing authorities, we are dishonoring and disrespecting God. For “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” They are God’s appointed governors. Many times our gut reaction to this verse runs something along the lines of “well, if the ruler is not following God’s law, then we do not owe them respect! After all, candidate x is really really bad.” But before making this jump of justification, lets look at the context of Romans 13. The Christians in Rome at the time were suffering under severe persecution by the tyrant Nero. Used, abused, tortured, violated, massacred, if anyone had reason to disrespect the governing authorities, it was these early Christians. Paul declares to them however that the ruler “does not bear the sword in vain.” President Obama, and after tomorrow, whoever wins the election, deserves our respect. They are servants of God.
We also need to respect each other. Politics can often be viciously divisive. Sadly, many are torn apart by seemingly irreconcilable political differences. We begin to look at others along the lines of a political dichotomy, those on our side, and those persuaded by the devilry of the other side. This kind of thinking is dangerous. Romans 14 discusses at length the folly of these sorts of divisions. We must give respect to those we disagree with. Romans 12:18 declares “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” We must not be the cause of division. Speak the truth by all means, but those who differ with what you believe deserve your respect, not your scorn.
Most importantly, we must remember to respect God this election. Everything is in the secure and firm hands of God. His providential plan will come to pass. We need not despair! Everything that happens tomorrow at the polls happens for God’s glory. No matter how dismal the outcome appears to us, it is what the world needs right now. Christ, praying in the garden of Gethsemane, facing a conflict much more severe than 4 years of one or another president, Christ, who was God, did not tell God what should happen. He asked his desire, but then prayed “not my will, but yours, be done.” We have no right to demand of God one outcome or another. Ask God, pray hard to God, but in the end, remember, God’s will will be done. We can rest in the fact that God’s will is perfect and holy.
“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”