"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan." - Prov 29:2 (NKJV)
"The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes." - Prov 21:1 (NKJV)
"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." - Rom 13:1 (NKJV)
"By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, And a gentle tongue breaks a bone." - Prov 25:15 (NKJV)
Well, that magical time is upon us once again: Presidential election season! Every four years, we have the pleasure of being inundated with more promises, TV ads, slander, broken promises, slander, mud-slinging, debate, slander (did I already mention that?), and campaigning than should be permitted by law! Not to mention the promises (OK, I know I already mentioned that). What a joyous time to be an American (please note the obvious sarcasm . . .)
Of course, one of the big questions that mainstream media likes brings up during election season is this: "what role will Evangelical Christians play in this year's election?" That's right, folks: you and I, the body of Christ, who are often dismissed as out-of-touch, condemning, clueless, and a host of other not-so-flattering adjectives, are actually taken somewhat seriously once every two years, albeit around a topic that often leaves us divided.
Well, believe it or not, you and I actually play quite an important role when it comes to the elections in our country. As a matter of fact, given what the Bible says, even as messy as politics and the electoral process can be, great importance has been placed on our vote. Let me explain:
As you can see, I referenced a number of scriptures at the front-end of this post, all of which deal with rulers and authority in some sort of way. The first scripture resonates with many of us, as we have had to deal with the consequences of living under a host of unrighteous rulers (we won't name names, as it's unnecessary for the heart of this article); we've seen it manifest itself in public humiliations, financial corruptions, sexual misconduct, and in the many other ways that have given our government a black eye, both domestically and internationally. Furthermore, we can include in this "unrighteous" category all of the legislation that has been passed and Supreme Court decisions that have been made since the inception of our great democratic-republic that have made us scratch our heads and say "Where did we go wrong?" There is very much a need for righteousness in government.
But you might think this: "Will, one of your scripture references says that God directs the king! How can we do anything about unrighteous politicians?" My response? "Thank you for making my point for me."
You see, the kings of Israel (starting with Saul himself) were all ordained by God, which means that God put them there, not men. Therefore, the king was sovereign in his rule (he only answered to God). As a matter of fact, we even see that some kings had their hearts hardened by God (i.e. Pharaoh). And, as the authorities placed by God, the people's job was to submit to them. We, however, do not live under a king. So how do these scriptures apply to us? I'm glad you asked.
You see, the democratic-republic in which we live, which was founded through much prayer and seeking of God, gives power to the people, and, in turn, their delegates (congressman, senators, and even presidents, all of which are elected in order to best represent the will of the people). Yes, it gives power to the states as well, but the states are comprised of, you guessed it, people. So, even though the people in authority are to be yielded to, their power flows from the people, which just happens to include you. Bottom line? The people rule, not the politicians.
Honestly, the poor character that we see in our representatives largely represents the people who put them there, though we'd probably prefer not to look at it that way.
So, we can see that the people are actually subject to themselves by way of the people that they put into power. The people rule.
Now, if the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, but we have no king, we could probably say that the heart of the ruler is in the hand of the Lord, and, since the people rule themselves through delegated authority, it's really the hearts of the people of our great country that are in the hands of the Lord.
Well, that begs a great question: how does God change the hearts of the people. That's easy: through us! That brings to our fourth scripture.
Now, when someone is in power, whether it's a boss, a pastor, or a coach, it can take a long time for them to change the way they do something, especially if they've been doing it that way for a long time; hence the point made in Proverbs about long forbearance. Now, our country didn't become the way it is overnight, so it's not going to change back to a more Godly way overnight, either. However, we can take heart from the scriptures that, as long as we keep fighting the good fight of the faith and persuading the sinner to righteousness in hopes that they'll find repentance, that our country will change it's way. However, we will never truly see a change in the kind of people we elect into office until we see a change in the hearts of the people who put them there.
So, while it is necessary to make sure that we're vigilant about doing our research and make most righteous election we can (that means not voting for people who overtly go against the things that God says are right), we must fight the war on both fronts by continuing to preach the good news of Jesus so that a change can be made in the power base that rules our country, the people. Then, we'll definitely see righteous rule, and there will be much rejoicing.