ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE CHURCH
It’s election day! So who are you voting for? Democratic candidates? Republican candidates? Some third party? That decision will be up to each disciple individually. Opinions even among God’s chosen people differ based on experiences, priorities, and personal philosophies and ideologies about the function of government.
BUT BE ENCOURAGED! Although we live at a time in which our society seems more divided politically than ever and, for many, fear abounds as though all hope rests on the outcome of this election, we as disciples know there is nothing to fear!
Why? Because we serve a sovereign God! The earth is his and everything in it! (PSALM 24:1) He is the one who establishes governments to serve his purposes! (ROMANS 13:1) At times he raises up godly men and women, such as in the case of King David of Israel and Queen Esther or the Persian empire. At other times he allows pagan and immoral rulers their period in history for a specific purpose. He raised up Egypt to play a role in preparing his people, Israel. He raised up the Assyrians and Babylonians to discipline, humble, and even strategically disperse his people in preparation for the spread of the gospel. He raised up the Persians to send his exiles home to Palestine to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. He raised up Alexander the Great and the Greeks to conquer much of the known world to establish a common culture and language, which made it easier to communicate the gospel of Jesus to all nations! And he allowed the Romans to lord over an empire and build an infrastructure that united societies and made travel possible like never before, again aiding the disciples as they spread the word of God’s salvation!
Take time to read MATTHEW 24. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus’s disciples are expressing their awe of the temple in Jerusalem. The structure was immaculate! Herod had done much to renovate and add to its visual glory! Roughly half a million people could occupy the courts of the temple at one time. Even unbelievers traveled to Jerusalem to see it! The Jewish temple was considered the most magnificent religious structure in all of the Roman empire. No wonder the disciples were taken with it. It appeared as though it was beyond destruction! For the Jews, it understandably stood as a symbol of hope that God would one day deliver them from the hands of Gentile rulers.
But note Jesus’ words. He begins to point out to the disciples that the very thing the Jews put their hope in for deliverance–a political messiah symbolized in the seemingly indestructible temple–was really no source of salvation or deliverance at all. He tells them that the day will come when the very thing that seemed so strong would be torn down stone by stone (the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD). He further warns them not to be fooled by false messiahs who would come promising deliverance. While these “messiahs” might say things that sounded like what the people wanted, they were not sent from God, and they would not have the power to achieve what they promised.
Instead, Jesus assures them that salvation is found, not in political leaders or symbols like the temple, but in him! He speaks of his eventual return and the ultimate spiritual deliverance and victory that will be ours as disciples! In the meantime, he tells his disciples not to be shocked when they see the bad things that occur in the world, for this is the result of sin. We must understand this and stand firm in our faith, not betraying our own righteousness in the pursuit of relief from struggles or persecutions. Your hope is in a spiritual kingdom ruled by your holy God, not an earthly political system led by sinful men and women.
What lessons might we take from this chapter on this election day? How you respond to this election will reveal a great deal about where you truly put your hope and in what you hold faith. Do you look at our American political structure and admire the stones, believing that your security rests in a certain political ideology and specific policies winning out in an election? Do you look at certain candidates as if they were somehow “messiahs’” on whom the “salvation of our nation and society rests?”
Or, do you view these things as Jesus viewed the temple that day? Jesus did not dispute that the temple was magnificent. He simply pointed out it is not intended by God to be the source of your faith and confidence. It will have its time, but then it will be gone. But take heart! God will remain. Jesus did not dispute that people would undergo difficult times, natural disasters (like storms or pandemics), even persecutions and social injustices. But he encouraged his followers to look past the earthly circumstances to trust that, for those who hold firm and continue to faithfully follow him, they would overcome and experience an eternal reward!
Today, BE ENCOURAGED! Vote and support the candidate of your choice. But know that God is sovereign and in control no matter what. His glory and his purpose are not on the ballot today! There is no threat of voting God and his eternal plan out of office. How do we display faith that we believe this? By refusing to give into the sin we see in so many surrounding this election. Meet fear with security, trust, and peace in your God. Meet political division with Christian unity. Meet anger, pride, and selfishness, with love, humility, and a heart to serve even your enemies. In short, be a disciple of Jesus, even on election day and after! And, should your candidate lose, see it as a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate faith, peace, and surrender in a manner that glorifies God.
Read MATTHEW 24:9-14. How might this passage be relevant for us?