Look Up.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
– Psalm 46:10

Another election cycle has come and… well… kept going.

I’ve been following politics since I was roughly 13 years old. We’re talking 6 presidential election cycles, various house and senate cycles, and of course the obligatory local and state elections. Every couple of years another cycle of panic, faith, and fear. Panic over the doom and gloom warnings from both sides. Misguided faith in a candidate. Fear that a candidate just might lose.

I’ve been following Jesus since I was roughly 38-39 years old. No election cycles. No panic. Tons of faith (faith in God, not misguided faith in a politician). Amazing fear – respect, awe, and submission to God. Knowing that there is a God above in control of all of this, that His will rules over all, and that He will never provide a challenge we are unable to bear is what has graced me with a peace beyond all understanding when the world seems so full of panic.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.Corinthians 10:13

…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

I won’t say I haven’t had any anxiety here, I’m human. Election night I looked at the news for 5 minutes and near disabling anxiety shot through me.

So I said a prayer.

Then a thought that was not my own, from a gentle voice that was not my own said, “Just shut it off.” So I did. I closed out of the window and immediately the anxiety faded. Thank you Jesus. He knows what is for my good better than I do.

Now when it comes to criticisms of Trump – and even criticism of Biden – one name comes to me. David. I’ve seen Christians shouting from the rooftops against both candidates for their public and private failings and sins. Here’s the thing, and stay with me here because I’m going to be blunt.

King David raped a married woman, Bathsheba, and got her pregnant. He covered up his sin by committing murder in sending Bathsheba’s husband Uriah off to the front lines to die. This is a man after God’s own heart (Samuel 13:14). This is a man who is widely considered to be the greatest King of Israel.

Are the sins of Donald Trump or Joe Biden any worse than those committed by King David, a man after God’s own heart? Are their sins any worse than our own? Has the United States of America ever been led by man who was not flawed, or a sinner?

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; – Corinthians 1:26-27

I don’t know if either of them have truly been saved through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Trump mentions God and Jesus plenty. Biden’s a Catholic. Whether they’re saved is between them and God.

Full disclosure, if Trump wins, I’ll be happy. If Biden wins, I’ll be a little sad. In the end – whomever reaches 270 electoral college votes will be the President. They will have been anointed by God as per Romans 13 to lead this nation. What we learn as a result of that leadership, as men and women of faith, is the real lesson here.

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 [a]bring judgment on themselves. – Romans 13:1-2

One note there though – language is key (this pops up many times in scripture). As outlined in this blog post: No, Romans 13 is not about obeying the governing authorities.

The key to understanding is in the word “submit”. Take a look at this. The Greek word hupo-tasso, which has been translated as “submit” or “be subject,” literally means to arrange stuff respectfully in an “orderly manner underneath”.

This simple meaning of “social orderliness” would have been understood by original readers, but it is a little obscured in our English translation.

This word is used in Ephesians 5:22 to encourage husbands and wives to submit to one another, and it reflects God’s concern for order and respect.

Here’s the main point – Paul and Peter believed that governing authorities are necessary for keeping the peace. God is a God of order – not anarchy or chaos.

But here’s where we go wrong. There’s ANOTHER word, hupo-kouo, which is best translated as “obey,” which literally means to conform, to follow a command, or to kowtow to an authority as a subordinate.

Peter and Paul could have used this word, “obey,” but they chose not to.

Used twenty-one times in the New Testament, hupo-kouo always suggests a hierarchical context, as in the relationship between children or slaves and their parents or masters (Eph 6:1 and 6:5).

And so here’s the most important thing to remember – in the New Testament Greek, to submit does not always mean to obey! They are two separate actions or postures.

Though Paul, Peter and other followers of Jesus deliberately disobeyed laws that were in conflict with God’s commands, they still submitted to the authorities by accepting the legal consequences of their actions.

No, Romans 13 is not about obeying the governing authorities.

I pray every day for the salvation of this nation, for the pandemics, riots, and divisions to cease, and for the Lord’s grace and justice to rule this land. But when we get right down to basics – what does it matter who wins if we simply follow the commandments of our Lord Jesus?

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40

Take a deep breath my friends, regardless of which candidate you support. Turn your eyes to the Lord. He will guide, He will protect, and He will avenge. Just look to Him. Look up.

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