Disconcerted is too mild a word to describe the feeling a majority of informed Christians had the day after the 2008 Presidential election. Fears continue to revolve around social issues including abortion and homosexual unions; economic matters related to wealth redistribution and class warfare; domestic policy questions connected to religious freedom and the new definition of tolerance; foreign policy concerns linked to present war and looming potential threats to national security; the increasing marginalization of Christians and the erosion of the Christian worldview in our culture; and so much more. How should we react to these things in the coming days? What should our response be in light of a new president and a new year?

 

First, as those who know the One who actually raises up and removes kings, we must be thankful. We can thank God for civil rest with a clear winner in the presidential election. With the animosity some felt toward the establishment, with historical implications concerning race, and with emotions at a fevered pitch, we can thank God for a peaceful transition of power. Such a dynamic goes unnoticed by those of us who live in America. Yet, throughout history and across the globe the transition of power is often bloody. God is the One who continues to bless us with domestic peace every four years and we must recognize His kindness and grace toward us in that regard.

 

Second, we have an opportunity to examine our hearts. Not only do we have a tendency to take God’s good providence for granted and fail to offer Him praise, we also have the tendency to complain when circumstances don’t go the way we would choose. Do we really believe that God causes all things to work for our good? Do we really believe God is in control? Do we really trust Him? To complain is to express dissatisfaction with God and His plan for us. At the same time for example, if we speak to our children of God’s wise governance of His universe and indeed the circumstances of our lives, we send them a contradictory message when we complain. We must bow our hearts to God in His good providence for us and convey that commitment in our every day talk before our children and others if we are to live in such a way as to witness to His faithfulness.

 

Third, consider the tremendous prospect of putting presidential elections in proper perspective. We must not look to Washington for answers. Too many Christians really believe if we can simply get our candidate in the White House, gain political control of Congress, and get the right individuals on the Supreme Court, then all will be well. Of course, such a notion overlooks key biblical issues. The myriad problems America has are not merely problems of law or behavior; they are spiritual.  Not only can the government not change hearts but such a dynamic is not even the government’s role. Christians have no desire to coerce others to do what we want. Our goal is to declare the wonderful grace of God in Christ that truly changes lives. Only when people are changed for the better will a culture be changed for the better. To focus on government solutions to spiritual problems is to miss our calling as the church and to relegate ourselves to failure. We must look to the only One who is the answer and in so doing proclaim the real message of hope and change to a hurting world. Christ is our Savior, not the government.

 

Fourth, with the realization in mind that the government is not our savior combined with the moral and spiritual slide we find ourselves in as a nation, we have a clear occasion to speak to the church and as the church. We may admonish our brothers and sisters to embrace the Savior afresh in their lives. Those believers who are fearful can still worship the Lord. They can still witness of His grace to others. None of that has changed. And, we may speak together as the church to a world in darkness. The church is in a unique position to point the way forward in Christ. We alone have real answers to real questions.

 

Fifth, we can rejoice that our citizenship is in heaven and that we serve a king who has established a kingdom that shall never end. When Daniel was called upon to reveal and interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he uttered the profound reality that should be the constant focus of our attention, the driving force in our lives, and the anchoring hope in the midst of all our circumstances: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever (Dan. 2:44).” The God of heaven set up that kingdom by sending Christ into the world. America is but a temporary player on the world’s stage. The good news is that we serve the King of kings and Lord of lords and His kingdom shall stand forever.

 

Again, while many are disconcerted, the truth is that we as Christians “in all these things…are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37).” Be encouraged. It is not despite these things but in all these things that we are more than conquerors. Thus, with a new president we have hope for a new year not because of that president, but because of the King who loved us.

 

Paul J. Dean