Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

Who’s in charge here?

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Every person should obey the government in power. No government would exist if it hadn’t been established by God. The governments which exist have been put in place by God.—Romans 13:1 (GWT)

If whomever you voted for in Tuesday’s election won, I’m happy for you and for them. If they didn’t win, I’m sorry for their loss and yours.

Elections seem to turn Christians into the most un-Christlike advocates for staying away from the church. Some pastors (very illegally) speak from the pulpit and tell you who to vote for or allow candidates to have a political platform in the church. Recently, some candidates have stated that God told them to run for office. Then, they lost.

Does that mean that God wanted them to lose? Was God really talking to them in the first place? Does it mean that I don’t have to vote if God told these people their victory is assured? Was God unable to overcome the polls? Does God really care about who’s in charge of our country? These are some dangerous questions to ask when you start to frame them this way. I get very disturbed when politics and the church mix.

It worked in the Old Testament, because the government was basically a theocracy where God chose the king. Really, the only reason Israel got a king was because He got tired of people whining that they wanted what all their neighbors had. Classic example of culture influencing the church instead of the other way around.

Eventually, organizing the government around one king led to a Civil War once two separate kings of Israel thought they should be the one king, and the kingdom split in half. Throughout the next several generations, the Bible describes there were good kings and there were bad kings, until eventually God was fed up enough that He sent everybody into exile in Babylon.

By the time we get to the New Testament, Israel has returned to the land that God gave them, but they are now under the authority of the Roman government with tolerance for the Pharisees supervising the Jewish religion. And then, Jesus came, set up His church, and showed us that you don’t have to be part of the government to love others, help them meet their physical needs, bring them to God so their spiritual needs can be met, and then pass it on to the next person.

Does government sometimes hinder the work of the church? Sure, but if you don’t believe in a God that is in control of everything on this earth down to the most minute details of our lives, then you also don’t believe in a God that puts obstacles in our path to test our faith, to test our reliance on his strength, and to teach us more about Him through the process.

Don’t you think that when Israel was sinning against God that the prophets had difficulties to bear to do His will? Elijah lived most of his life on the run from King Ahab. Jeremiah was imprisoned and beaten. Ezekiel cooked bread over cow manure. Hosea married a prostitute. Don’t you think that God was present in the midst of the good kings as well as the bad ones?

I hate to be a downer, but the government is full of flawed people who will only let you down, just like the rest of humanity. There is only One you can put your full trust in to deliver what He says he’ll do.

How much does faith matter to you when it comes to which candidate gets your vote? Let’s try to keep this civil in the comments, since politics are involved. You never know who’s reading.

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