Government is a necessary, God-ordained institution whose primary purpose is to restrain sin by maintaining law and order in society (see Rom 13:3-4; 1 Pet 2:13-14). Christians who live in a democracy should seek to influence the government by casting their vote—though, admittedly, sometimes we feel that we are voting for the lesser of two evils. Some Christians are even called to a career in government and politics, although this is becomingly increasingly difficult in the American context.
This Tuesday, November 3, is an important “midterm” election for congressional and state officials. How can we put this election in biblical perspective? First of all, we can say that it is a mistake to place your hope for the future on the results of this election. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that if the Republican party can just win control of Congress, followed in two years by the White House, they will fix the spiritual problems in America. While there are some evangelical Christian politicians in the Republican party, most Republicans are essentially secular, and most have a secular agenda. Even if all the Republican politicians were Bible-believing Christians, there still is just not much interest in the Christian gospel in America today. If the Republicans regain control of the Senate, this will, at best, only slow down America’s moral and spiritual decline.
Our hope as a Christian has to do with the world that is to come—that world where the redeemed are raised from the dead, where there is no pain, no suffering, and no death, and where God Himself is ruling directly and visibly. If you set your hope on anything in this world, you will be sorely disappointed, because this world and everything in it is passing away. Don’t hope for a political party or a politician to solve the world’s problems. Don’t think that government, science, or business will solve the world’s problems. Put your hope in Jesus Christ, who is the only Solution to the world’s problems. Jesus will in fact solve all the problems in the world at His second coming to earth; until then, people everywhere are called to receive Him as their Savior in order to obtain a place in that glorious world to come. It is okay to be involved in politics, but the church needs to stay focused on spiritual causes. If you choose to give money to a political cause, make sure that the bulk of your giving is still going to the church, which is where it will really make a difference.
I know many Christians who are fearful of the political future of America. Is there a big economic collapse coming in America, as the doomsayers perennially forecast? Neither party wants to hurt the economy; the economy will probably grow no matter which party is in power, though in different ways and at different rates. The prospect of religious persecution of evangelical Christians is much more real, though it is still unclear exactly how and when this will unfold. Should the rising tide of anti-Christian sentiment scare us? Not if we see our duty as simply being faithful to God, which is something we can do in tough times as well as in good times. (By the way, most American Christians that I know who are very worried about the direction of their country, and who are praying fervently for political change, seem to feel “locked in” to life in America. But if pressure on Christians in America becomes too great, there is nothing in the Bible that says Christians cannot move to another country for their own safety. It would probably actually be good for the spread of the gospel if more American Christians moved overseas [cf. Acts 8:1-4; 11:19].)
The Bible teaches that God is sovereign over rulers and nations; in fact, this is the theme of the book of Daniel (2:21; 3:29; 4:32; 5:21; 6:26; 7:27). So if people who are opposed to God, and who are opposed to biblical principles, win Tuesday’s elections, does that mean God has lost control? Should it shake your faith? By no means. In fact, God will not impose direct political control over the earth until Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom. The Bible reveals that the end of the present age is marked by a great rebellion against God, in which the world will continually grow worse until it finally unites in worship of a man known as the antichrist (cf. 2 Thess 2:1-12). The antichrist will lead the world to the ultimate expression of evil, such that God will finally have to intervene and put an end to the kingdoms of this world. Since this is how the Bible reveals the age will end, it should not surprise us when leaders and cultures in the world grow ever more anti-Christian. When things go from bad to worse to worse yet, it is because God’s sovereign plan is unfolding to bring the powers of this world to an end. Our job is to be separate and faithful. By doing so, we obtain a share in the spoils of victory when Christ returns to conquer the world.
Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:20)