Thanksgiving sanctifies everything it touches — including presidential elections. Although the fissures of division in our nation run as fault lines through our diverse church, God’s Word can unite our diverse church during this season. Three thoughts from God’s Word that we can rally around:
1. We submit and pray for a position even when we disagree with the person.
Nero was emperor of Rome. He murdered, embezzled, burned Rome, blamed Christians, burned Christians, and committed suicide. Yet Paul calls the church to “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom 13:1). Even as evil an emperor as Nero was instituted by God. Submission is demonstrated in prayer for “all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Tim 2:1-2).
Why do we pray? “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov 21:1). The Lord is sovereign even over the king’s heart. Therefore we must pray for the king because of the position that he holds, as God works even through pagan leaders; the Persian king Cyrus is even called the Lord’s anointed (Isa 45:1).
No matter our views about the morality of a person or policies of a position, we must submit and pray for the president. Our nation will rise and fall on our prayer. We must pray. If I carry anything away from this election, it is a call to prayer.
2. We must always oppose any destructive powers that animate a leader’s position.
Go back to Rome. While Jesus and the church submitted to the authority of Rome, they worked subversively to undermine the demonic powers that animated Rome. The Roman empire was animated by a destructive power expressed through the power of the Roman Army. The Peace of Rome was a peace of the sword.
By submitting to Rome, Jesus did not legitimate that power, but he opposed the power that animated Rome. In Luke 8:26–39, he comes to the Gerasenes, opposite Galilee, Gentile Roman territory. There a demoniac ran around naked among the tombs, and his name was “Legion.” This man represented the demonic powers that animated the Roman empire. Jesus did not submit to these demonic powers, but he cast them out.
Similarly we must oppose the destructive powers at work. Throughout the election season, a spirit of fear has been released in our nation. My Asian-American pastor friend’s church had its windows painted with white swastikas two days before the election. Other people have been maligned for their political views. But we must stand and firmly oppose the spirit of fear released in our nation. How?
3. Perfect love casts out fear
We combat a spirit of fear with love. Love means relationship. In our church, we have some progress to be made, but God is working through our love to cast out fear.
During Collide on Wednesday, Sue J. brought a friend, Maria, an immigrant from Mexico. When we broke up into small groups to pray, she shared, “I’m afraid.” And Paula S. and Holly C. surrounded her with love, understanding and prayer. And their perfect love cast out fear.
Christina L. recently shared that if Living Water had not merged with Blanchard to form Wellspring, she would feel more afraid. If we were in an Asian American enclave and she read the things that she reads on her social media, she would feel bitter and angry at “white evangelicals.” But now “white evangelicals” are not a faceless group. They have names like Barb B. and Cheryl B., and she loves them and is loved by them. And perfect love casts out fear.
Church, this is the perfect love that casts out fear. Without a doubt, there are destructive forces of fear that are sweeping through our nation. We should not deny that and pretend like it is absent. But we do not give into fear. Perfect love casts out fear, and love comes from God. So go to God, and step across the room. And step into the perfect love that casts out fear.