As the US Presidential election looms, we’ve witnessed an escalation of venom and fury from both camps. To hear some speak, Donald Trump is the Anti-Christ, and all who vote for him should be arrested – or worse.
To listen to others, Joe Biden will be the last nail in the coffin of a civilised Christian nation. To vote for him is to vote for evil to rule the land.
To their supporters, however, it seems they can do no wrong and speak no wrong. Their supporters seem to imagine that the only hope of bringing about a utopian society is for their preferred candidate to win the election.
The divide has become so bitter that there have been reports of an armed insurrection should Biden win, or rioting in the streets, and looting of shops, and burning of buildings should Trump be re-elected.
How has a civilised, educated, wealthy and advanced society descended to this? At what point did any imagine that either Trump or Biden are the Messiah, sent to bring in that utopian paradise on earth that we all long for?
I’ve got news for you, voters of America; neither man will be your Saviour. Neither man will usher in ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all men.’
And neither man is the Anti-Christ either, although you wouldn’t think so to listen to their opponents speak. Rather, they are both fallen men, attempting to lead fallen people, in a fallen world. Neither will be able to undo the Fall.
So it beggars belief that their supporters could ever imagine otherwise. When did humans lose all sense of perspective and rational thought?
But as disturbing as it is to witness the vitriolic polarisation from the general population, it is far more disturbing to hear it spew out of the mouths of those who call themselves followers of Christ.
For you would imagine that, of all people, we Christians would understand that every leader – not just the good ones, not just the ones we voted for – is appointed by God for His good purposes.
The Bible is abundantly clear that no leader rules by his, or her, own right and authority. No leader – good or bad – ever held the seat of power unless installed there by God.
Paul wrote, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” [Rom 13:2].”
The whole world is tired of the COVID crisis. The whole world is either angry about the restrictions, or fearful of the future, or both at the same time.
So it seems the whole world – Christians included – is acting out in ways that cause even more division in society, criticising – even threatening – those with a different view.
Some refuse to even share a meal together because they have become so divided over politics. For non-Christians, this may to some extent be understandable, for what hope do they have for rescue apart from a politics?
But for Christians, the vitriol should stop and stop now! For we know that no political leader will ever be the Messiah. And we know that even wicked leaders are appointed by God.
We are not arguing about great truths of the faith. We are not arguing about the deity of Jesus Christ, the resurrection, whether adultery is permitted, or any of other non-negotiables of Christianity.
We are arguing over opinions, preferences, and matters of conscience. Would any of us be so arrogant as to imagine we know the reason why God appoints any leader at any point in time? So conceited that we – and we alone – know the best path out of the COVID crisis?
We Christians – of all people – should be the ones extending grace, showing mercy, offering encouragement, and displaying peace and joy amidst the chaos.
We Christians – of all people – should be the ones willing to subject our own rights for the benefit of others. Even if the other is a ‘weaker brother.’ In fact, especially if the other is a ‘weaker brother.’
For that is exactly what Scripture tells us to do; nay, commands us to do. A large portion of the book of Romans (chapters 12-15) addresses how we are to respond to governments of all persuasions, and especially how we are to treat other believers.
“Do not quarrel over opinions” [Rom 14:1].
“Do not despise or pass judgment on another about things you differ in” [Rom 14:3].
“Be fully convinced in your own mind about your choices” [Rom 14:5].
“Never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” [Rom 14:13].
“Don’t let what you regard as good to be spoken of as evil by your choices, your actions, or your words” [Rom 14:16].
“Pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” [Rom 14:19].
“Do not, for the sake of (your preferences), destroy the work of God” [Rom 14:20.
“Do nothing that causes your brother to stumble” [Rom 14:21].
How clear could it be? And yet, in our certainty that we know best, we so freely criticise and belittle our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ for their differing opinions.
Are you the stronger Christian because you are not frightened to stand up against what you consider oppressive government directions? Then good. But remember, ““We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves… For (even) Christ did not please himself…” [Rom 15:1, 3].
Friends, let us be careful – by our words, our opinions, and our actions –to lift up our fellow believers. Let us be careful that we “do not destroy the one for whom Christ died” [Rom 14:15]. What a serious charge that will be to have to answer to on Judgment Day!
And let us never forget that there is only One who will usher in that Paradise on earth. There is only One who will undo the effects of the Fall – Jesus Christ. He will do it in His good time. He already reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And all the rulers of the earth are subject to Him now.
We look forward with confidence and assurance – in spite of our circumstances – to that day. Come, Lord Jesus!