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When politics drives you crazy

ARE YOU READY for this election cycle to be over? Do you find politics creeping into your family gatherings? Is politics so polarizing that you can’t have a sensible discussion without tempers flaring? If politics is driving you crazy, the simplest thing you can do to regain your sanity is turn off the cable news and listen to the good news.

Cable news programs have an agenda—to increase their viewership and sell more ads. They do this by creating fear and anxiety in people. They want you to believe that if the next election doesn’t go the right way, the world, as we know it, will come to an end. Well, here’s the good news: Jesus is really in charge. Elections don’t determine our future. God does. That’s what the Bible teaches us.

God established all authority

The apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Romans at a time when Christians were being persecuted in the Roman Empire, but not so much at the hands of the Roman government. Persecution in the book of Acts was largely from hostile Jews or from those who saw Christianity as a threat to their temples and idols. But persecutions from Rome were just around the corner. Eventually, Paul himself would be executed for his faith. It is thought that 11 of the 12 disciples were murdered because they preached the gospel. Only John lived to old age, though the last years of his life were in prison. But instead of warning Christians to beware of the governing powers, Paul told Christians to submit to the powers that be. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1,2).

“There is no authority except that which God has established.” Let that sink in. God has established our government in the United States, no matter how we feel about it. He also established the dictators in Africa and the anti-Christian governments in Nepal and China. God’s people throughout history have lived under hostile governments. They submitted to those governments with respect when they could and disobeyed only when asked to do something against God’s Word and their consciences. Daniel recognized that Nebuchadnezzar ruled at God’s pleasure. He said that God “deposes kings and raises up others” (Daniel 2:21). It could well be that Daniel saw his parents slaughtered in the Babylonian invasion. Yet Daniel accepted that God had established the Babylonian government and served his king faithfully.

Habakkuk wasn’t so sure. Habakkuk complained about the injustice and violence in Judah. God told Habakkuk that he was going to send the Babylonian army to punish his people. Habakkuk thought about that for a moment and complained, “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Habakkuk 1:13). In other words, “Why, God, would you use the Babylonians, who were really wicked, to punish the less-evil Israelites?” God’s answer was very simple: The just will live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4). In other words, you just have to trust that God has a plan and knows what he is doing. In Israel’s case, God used Babylon to bring Israel to repentance so that eventually the Savior would come and save them from their sins.

God is always in charge

So how does this speak to our chaotic and disturbing political scene? “There is no authority except that which God has established.” That is good news whether we are living in a democratic republic or under a hostile dictatorship. Throughout the history of the world, God has used secular powers to serve his plan of salvation. He used Joseph and Egypt to save Jacob’s family during a famine. He used the new Pharaoh to make life miserable for the people of Israel so that they would want to leave Egypt. Then he rescued his people from him. He used Nebuchadnezzar to bring the Jews to repentance and then used Cyrus to send them home again. “There is no authority except that which God has established.”

I have seen God’s hand at work in my lifetime. When I was in the seventh grade, we had nuclear war drills in school because we were terrified that the Russians would shoot their missiles at the United States. We trembled when they tried to put missiles in Cuba. If I had thought this through carefully, I probably could have figured out that Ixonia, Wisconsin, would not be their primary target, but we were terrified after those drills.

During the height of the Cold War, someone decided to take down the Berlin Wall, and it was dismantled overnight without a shot fired. The Soviet Union fell apart soon after. How can you not see the hand of God in this? God “deposes kings and raises up others.”

Of course, in the United States, “the people” are in charge. We choose our rulers. You will hear politicians appeal to the people as if the people collectively could never choose the wrong person to govern them. That is not true, because the people can be wrong too. It’s good to have new elections every few years so we can undo any wrongs that might have been made in previous elections. The good news is that God is still in charge, despite our faulty elections.

So when the newscasters try to convince you that this next election is the most important election in history or that your country will be destroyed if you choose the wrong leader, remember that Jesus is still in charge. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). That’s the good news.

Join us in October for a four-week live online Bible study on church and state. Stay tuned for dates, times, and registration information at forwardinchrist.net/online-study.

Author: Charles Degner
Volume 111, Number 07
Issue: July 2024


Six truths about government

ITS EXISTENCE: Every government is established by God.
ITS PURPOSE: Every government works for the good of God’s kingdom, knowingly or unknowingly.
ITS TOOLS: The state wields the sword to accomplish its purposes.
ITS METHOD OF RULING: The state uses rewards and punishments to move people to obedience.
ITS SOURCE OF TRUTH: The state governs by natural reason, which is affected by sin.
ITS SURVIVAL: The state rises and falls. The church remains forever.

Adapted from the Bible study Politics Is Driving Me Crazy! This study is available at Northwestern Publishing House, nph.net.

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This entry is part 1 of 63 in the series bible-study

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