Nov

07

2012

Justin Taylor|12:08 am CT

The Two Articles Christians Should Read the Day After the Election

I recommend that you read Russell Moore’s “Christians, Let’s Honor the President” and Collin Hansen’s “From Me, Yesterday.” Both exemplify Christian engagement with politics in the best sense.

Here’s an excerpt from Moore:

We are going to disagree with the President on some (important) things; there will be other areas where we can work with the President. But whether in agreement or disagreement, we can honor. Honor doesn’t mean blanket endorsement.

I am always amazed by those Christians who will dispute the command to honor, arguing that “kings” in our system are the people, and therefore we’re called to honor the Constitution but not elected officials. But the Scripture doesn’t command honor simply for the ultimate authority (which is, of course, ultimately God, in any case). Humanly speaking, the ultimate political authority in the New Testament context was the Emperor. And yet, the Apostle Peter specifically calls the people of Christ not only to show submission to the emperor “as supreme” but also to “governors” (1 Pet. 2:13-14). The Apostle Paul calls on the churches to pray and to show thanksgiving for “kings” (plural) and for “all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

Paul imitated this when he showed due respect to the governor Felix, referring to him with the honorific title “his Excellency, the governor” (Acts 23:26) and “most excellent Felix” (Acts 24:2), even as he appealed his way up through the political process of the Roman Empire of his time. Paul showed thanksgiving for Felix, despite his part in a system with which Paul disagreed at some important points, for his “reforms” for the common good (24:3).

Behind that is a more general command to “honor everyone” (1 Pet. 2:17), to pray for “all people” (1 Tim. 2:1). We are to not only pay our taxes but give “respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Rom. 13:7).

Christians, above all people, should pray for and show respect for our President and all of our elected officials. After all, unlike those who see politics as ultimate, we recognize that our political structures are important, but temporal, before an inbreaking kingdom of Christ. We don’t then need to be fomented into the kind of faux outrage that passes for much of contemporary political discourse. And, unlike those who see history as impersonal or capricious, we see behind everything a God who is sovereign over his universe.

So let’s pray for President Obama. Let’s not give ourselves to terms of disrespect, or every crazy conspiracy theory that floats across the Internet.

You can read the whole thing here.

And here’s an excerpt from Hansen:

Dear Post-Election Self,

Reading this letter, you know which man will reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years. But I don’t. I’m waiting for the election results to pour in from Cuyahoga and Waukesha and Arapahoe. Eerie calm awaits the coming political storm. But by the time you wake up, one party or the other will be apoplectic. Tens of millions of Americans will be devastated, following a cutthroat campaign that convinced them the other guy seeks this nation’s doom. Millions more around the world know the outcome affects them, too, but they can’t even vote to do anything about it. Literally billions of dollars have been spent by powerful men and women who believe their riches can dictate the course of human events. When you read this letter, about half of them will be demanding answers from ruined politicos for why their money failed to do the deed.

No matter what happens, I want you to remember how encouraged you were yesterday to see so many Christians testify to their faith in God alone. Today will be an especially good day to read 1 Peter. By professing trust in the God who makes rulers rise and fall, whether we understand his purposes or not, we “honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). Gentleness and respect have been almost totally absent from the campaign. Slander begat slander. Evil has been celebrated as freedom. But you can in good conscience put to shame even the vile by doing good in Christ. You must not, under any circumstances, return evil for evil. “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Pet. 3:17).

Nothing you will endure under the leadership of either leader—who both thumb their nose at God’s Word in many respects—can compare with the hardships faced by the elect exiles of the dispersion. Yet the chastened, impassioned apostle Peter told these harried believers, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Pet. 2:17). You may be rightly concerned that President Obama, if re-elected, will continue to restrict religious freedoms that, while protected by the Constitution, conflict with progressive priorities to redefine marriage and fund abortion. But not even your worst-case scenario can compare to what Jesus Christ has already endured. In fact, all who have been called to Christ have been called to suffer, “because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet 2:21). Unlike you, “he committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet. 2:22).

If we suffer political defeat like those who have no hope but politics, we do not even commend ourselves, let alone the God who hung the moon and stars. But if we grieve as those who hope in the return of the King, those who trust in flawed politicians may one day see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven. Jesus did not give his life so we could watch cable news as if our lives depended on it. Jesus submitted to death ordered by rulers so we might never fear them. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24.)

You can read the whole thing here.

10 Comments

  1. With all due respect, the laity really doesn’t need to hear these patronizing bromides from the clergy. It’s not as if Christians are about to riot in the streets. Don’t talk down the laity. Don’t treat the laity like the rabble, armed with pitchforks and torches, who need the cooler heads of the clergy to restrain their wayward impulses. Show the laity a little respect. We’re not children. You’re not the grownups. Spare us the sanctimonious condescension.

  2. I agree with Steve. We are not going to riot, but know this there is a wolf in the pasture of sheep.

  3. Followers of Christ know these things, it is not always easy to understand why, but our hope is Him who is over all things. We pray and then pray some more.

  4. “Spare us the sanctimonious condescension.”

    That’s rich.

  5. [...] Justin Taylor:  I recommend that you read Russell Moore’s “Christians, Let’s Honor the President” and [...]

  6. You make some good points about a Christian’s relationship with their governing powers. There are many things we need to consider in an election atmosphere such as this http://www.alivewithchrist.com/confession

  7. Jesus' Other Beard

    Hansen and Moore desire to be teachers rather than to teach.

    Let them recognize the mote in their eyes.

    Selah.

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