“Do You Want Your Voice to Be Heard This Election?” came the message on a postcard from a coalition of Christian organizations. The message is simple and popular among Protestant churches and Christianity today: “We need Christians to get out and vote. We need to let our voice be heard.” The idea is that if we can get enough Christians to get involved and vote, it will make a difference in the way the country is run. But is the mission of the Church to reform the government and bring about change through laws? Is that what Jesus taught and gave us as an example to follow?
As Jesus lived on the earth, His message was not one of social change but one of spiritual change. He was not interested in reforming the earthly kingdom but in helping people into the heavenly kingdom. Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And as He sent out the twelve, He commanded them, “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 10:7).
The Apostles did not preach a social gospel but a kingdom gospel. Acts 8:12, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Acts 20:25, “And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.”
This is not an earthly kingdom governed by earthly people making earthly rules. It is a heavenly kingdom governed by a heavenly King following heavenly rules. It is not bound by physical boundaries but can be found anywhere on the earth where God’s people are found. It is not bound by race or ethnic groups but can be found within any nation or country on the earth. Luke 17:20-21, “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
It all comes down to the fact that there are but two kingdoms that we can be a part of: the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Darkness, or we could say, the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of the World. We live on this earth and submit to the rules of an earthly kingdom in obedience to the command of our Leader, but our true allegiance is to the Kingdom of God.
The kingdoms of the earth are largely under the direction of Satan and his kingdom. This is evident in the breakdown of society and the laws passed that condone sinful actions. Even those in office who are professing Christians support laws that are contrary to the laws of God.
This raises a few questions in my mind. Is it possible to be part of a country while working against it? How long can this take place before our citizenship will be taken away, and we will suffer as a traitor? Just as a citizen of one country has no right to take part in the governing affairs of another country or in passing laws that work against his country, we as citizens of a heavenly country have no right taking part in the affairs of this earthly country.
Pilate heard these words as he questioned Jesus concerning His Kingdom: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). It would only seem natural for the servants of a king to fight for their leader who is facing such injustice, whose cause seems to be facing such opposition, who seems headed for such a senseless sentencing. Yet Jesus told Pilate not to expect an uprising over this because His Kingdom is not from here on earth. His subjects respond differently than do the subjects of earthly kingdoms. In fact, His subjects are peaceful in the face of opposition, they bless those who treat them badly, and pray for their salvation.
Today there are many “Christians” declaring that we must be active, we must get to the front of the battle, we must let our voices be heard. That is not the teaching of the Lord. That is not how the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven respond to earthly opposition. Our Master faced opposition as He walked on this earth and told us that we will face it as well. Second Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” He taught us how to face these things and promised to be there to help us through. He told the Church at Smyrna, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev 2:10). The answer is not to let your voice be heard in Washington, DC, but to be faithful to our heavenly Father and His Kingdom.
“But,” the Protestant objects, “if Christians don't get out and vote, how can we expect the country to turn around? Why, just look at what is happening to our country. Sin is rampant, the family structure is under attack, leaders are corrupt, our nation is on a downward slide!”
But let me ask, “Who is in control? Are things out of God’s control? Is He frantically trying to figure out a way to get things back in order?” Our God is sovereign. As Maker and Ruler of the universe, He rules supreme. He is never surprised at the way things turn out because they turn out that way under His sovereign rule. It’s easy for people to see that when things go according to their wishes, but when the election goes against their hopes, then suddenly it seems out of control. It seems that God needs our help to right all that is going wrong; that He is going to need our help to win the next election. Yet however out of control man may seem to think things are, God is still over all and carrying out His purpose, even using wicked men to accomplish His will at times.
Many years ago Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way that God was sovereign ruler. He thought he was the greatest until God gave him a warning in a dream. In this dream, that told of what was going to happen, we find these words: “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan 4:17). As we remember, in this event Nebuchadnezzar was driven from the throne because of his pride, and the kingdom was given to others for seven years till he was humble and recognized God as ruler over all. Four times in this account, Nebuchadnezzar was reminded that God is sovereign and sets up whomsoever He will. He sets up the basest, or lowest, of men at times.
Pilate also needed to be reminded of this while questioning Jesus. As Jesus stood silently, Pilate said, “Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin” (John 19:10-11). It is God who sets up rulers, and it is God who takes them down. He is the One who gives them the power and authority to govern. Pilate had no power to do anything against Jesus except what God granted him.
But surely God can’t use someone who doesn’t serve Him, can He? Let’s go back to Nebuchadnezzar. He certainly wasn’t a Godly king. He served many gods, and at times recognized the true God. Yet look at Jeremiah 27:5-8, “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.” God calls Nebuchadnezzar “my servant” and further declares that whoever doesn’t submit to Nebuchadnezzar He, God, would punish. God, in His sovereignty was using Nebuchadnezzar to carry out His plan, and He can still work that way today.
So what is the Christian’s response in an election year? We first need to remember where our citizenship is. Our sojourn on this earth is as strangers and pilgrims. I like the account of Abraham as recorded in Hebrews 11: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16). We also are called out of a country to which we have opportunity to return and take part in. But we seek a better country, that is, an heavenly. As pilgrims we are ambassadors of our heavenly country, here to point men and women to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. As our Master, He did not call us to help people by political reformation but by spiritual transformation through Jesus Christ.
We also need to remember the sovereignty of our God. He has made the earth and all that is therein. And He will give it to whomsoever He will. He sets up whom He will, and whom He will He brings down. As subjects in the Kingdom of God, we look to Him and say, “Thy will be done.” We realize that He is in control, and no matter who wins the election, God is still in control, and His plan and purpose will be carried out. So we want our voice to be heard in the place of highest authority. This is not marching on Capitol Hill, or protesting in front of the White House, or signing petitions to demand a change. It is getting on our knees and pouring out our hearts to our Father. Sure, there are things that concern us, and there are things that may cause us alarm, but we can find peace and rest in knowing our God is still in control. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1Timothy 2:1-4, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” We are reminded again from these verses that as citizens of God’s Kingdom, we focus on all men being saved and brought into the Kingdom of God. Our prayers are for the freedom to bring others to a knowledge of the truth.
May we be faithful in working in the Kingdom of God. Let’s not lose sight of the cause of His Kingdom. As we have opportunity, let’s point people to our sovereign God, the ruler of the universe. He is still in control and He will win!