After the longest election in history (or just my history), the 2020 election is finally over. Whether due to corrupt voting or simply the complication of mail-in ballots due to the complexity of the coronavirus, the tattered curtains of this crazy election has finally come to a close. Joe Biden will now be our president from 2021-2024.
Before I get to the main body of my article, a word from St. Paul to Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). And, no matter whom you voted for, the words of a wise Christian woman:
This article is going to be quite controversial for many readers, not because I’ll be sharing whom I endorsed (I won’t be sharing that) but because of the bold notion that even though Joe Biden will now be President of the United States, Christ is our true King. This is not to dismiss the importance of our presidential elections, but to greater emphasise whom our true King is and who, in reality, has control over all things and our best interests at heart.
It sickens me how people can be so cruel toward one another due to their religious ferocity for their political affiliation. The Left fails to practise their dogmatic tolerance and “love wins” platitudes while the Right fails to love their neighbour like the supposed Christians they claim to be. Then we have preachers like John MacArthur who tweeted on November 3, “Today is an election that will reflect the will of God for a few years on earth. In eternity past there was an election by the sovereign will of God that granted us everlasting heaven!”
Except, of course, both parties have their own sins and evils, and God is never the cause of sin and evil. Reverend Andrew McDonald’s take is much more biblical:
As Lutherans, we believe, teach, and confess, “Concerning the cause of sin [the opponents] teach that although God creates and preserves nature, nevertheless the cause of sin is the will of those who are evil, that is, of the devil and the ungodly. Since it was not assisted by God, their will turned away from God, as Christ says in John 8[:44], ‘When [the devil] lies, he speaks according to his own nature'” (AC XIX).
Therefore, since both the Democratic party and the Republican party commit their own evils, sins, and errors, the results of the election cannot be the will of God. Rather, it is the will of man and the Devil, who alone are the authors of sin, having brought it into the world that has deeply corrupted all creation since then.
With the election not being the will of God, therefore, this means Christ rules over it, not for it. That is, Christ rules over America, not for America. The only people whom Christ reigns for is His people, the church. A sharp distinction, therefore, must be made between Christ’s kingdom and the kingdom of man/the Devil.
On Christ’s kingdom, the Confessions say, “Christ’s kingdom is spiritual, that is, it is the heart’s knowledge of God, fear of God, faith in God, and the beginning of eternal righteousness and eternal life” (Ap XVI, 2). Therefore, Christ’s kingdom is not linked to the kingdoms of our world.
However, because we are still citizens of manmade kingdoms, “At the same time, it permits us to make outward use of legitimate political ordinances of whatever nation in which we live, just as it permits us to make use of medicine or architecture or food, drink, and air” (Ap XVI, 2). In other words, we still live in actual manmade kingdoms; therefore, we are called to live according to these kingdoms and are responsible for being dutiful citizens, permitting us to obey its laws and vote just as we can still utilise manmade things like medicine, architecture, food, drink, etc.
Furthermore, it is overly presumptuous and erroneous of us to say absurd things like, “You can’t be a Democrat/Republican and be Christian.” The reason for such bigotry on both sides is that you cannot be a Christian while supporting either side’s obviously sinful and evil policies, such as abortion and lack of care for the foreigner. Yet again, the Confessions refute this, “For Christian perfection is not found in contempt for civil ordinances but in the inclinations of the heart, in profound fear of God, and in strong faith” (Ap XVI, 9). Your salvation is not tied to whom you vote for or which political party you endorse; your salvation is tied to Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone.
Because all political parties have their own evils and sins, this is why I always urge: Vote according to your conscience, then repent.
What is God’s kingdom? “Simply what we heard above in the Creed, namely, that God sent His Son, Christ our LORD, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil, to bring us to Himself, and to rule us as a king of righteousness, life, and salvation against sin, death, and the evil conscience. To this end He also gave the Holy Spirit to deliver this to us through His holy Word and to enlighten and strengthen us in faith by His power” (LC, The Lord’s Prayer, 51; emphasis mine).
Therefore, when we pray “Thy kingdom come” in the Lord’s Prayer, “From this you see that we are not asking here for mere crumbs or for a temporal, perishable blessing, but for an eternal, priceless treasure and for everything that God Himself possesses” (LC, The Lord’s Prayer, 55). Christ’s kingdom comes in two ways: “first, it comes here, in time, through the Word and faith [hence preaching, cf. Romans 10:13-17], and second, in eternity, it comes through the final revelation” (LC, The Lord’s Prayer, 53).
Therefore, we see that although Christ came into the world to inaugurate God’s kingdom in His person and work, which He gives to us by faith, nevertheless His kingdom is not of this world, just as He prayed, “I have given them Your Word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one” (John 17:14-15). The breaking in of God’s kingdom in Christ is exactly that: it breaks, remoulds, and transcends our earthly kingdoms; it does not become our earthly kingdoms.
I have my own feelings about the election, but in the end they don’t matter because Christ, my King, is still on His throne. I do not stress and worry because Christ my King reigns eternally. Presidents come and go every 4-8 years, but Christ reigns forever. With Christ on the throne, this means He is still in control of all things, even when evil reigns. When evil reigned in Job’s life, though he complained much about being born due to his depression, not once did he blame God. As he dealt with the evils besetting him, still he worshiped the Lord and blessed His holy name.
In the end, Job’s miserable situation was entirely reversed despite all the evil that had happened to him and was continuing to happen to him, not so much because of his faithfulness but because of God’s faithfulness—because although God allowed Satan to have his little fun, God was still on the throne and God was still in control, comically manipulating and royally defeating the works of the Devil. It is no different now.
Thus, for me, I try to be like Job. Though I suffer and lament not just for my own sufferings but also for the sufferings of others (such as the unborn and refugees), so I also trust in the eternal reign of God my King, who cannot be dethroned no matter the evils we may do and no matter who sits in the Oval Office. Therefore, this post-election, let you and me do as St. Ignatius advised, “Let all, therefore, accept the same attitude as God and respect one another, and let no one regard his neighbor in merely human terms, but in Jesus Christ love one another always” (The Letter of Ignatius to the Magnesians, 6.2).
The Gospel of John helps us understand that “God’s will for relationship is reflected in the theme of ‘sending’… Through his emissaries, God engages the world he has made… God does not send others into the world in order that he might remain comfortably absent from it. God is in the middle of things, so that even in the face of conflict Jesus can affirm that the ‘one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone’ ([John] 8:29; 16:32). Sending is an action of the God who is present, not a God who is absent” (Koester, 33).
Thus, people encounter Christ when they encounter His people whom He sends out into the world with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us take Ignatius’ old but relevant advice seriously this post-election, not relating to one another according to human ways and fleshly thinking but according to the way of Christ, which abounds in love, grace, and mercy. Let us behave soberly in the love of Christ who sends us out into the world to reconcile others to God the Father.
Holmes, Michael W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.
Koester, Craig R. The Word of Life: A Theology of John’s Gospel. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008.