Politics in the U.S. is ugly ugly and divisive. I am not surprised by this, but it has certainly made me keep a reasonable distance from the news cycle over the last year. Nonetheless, I have found myself taking a peek at the headlines far more in the last few days. I am not totally sure why that is. You can chalk it up to my competitive spirit that is always interested in following a good game, or you could say it is the result of angst given the purported impact of the election. Whatever the case, I find that at times like this, it is key to get one’s mind set not on the ever-changing political waves, but on the enduring truth of Scripture. Paul wrote to the early church in Rome, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). So what ideas should we renew our minds on? There are probably many, but here a few “renewing” thoughts that are helpful for me.
1. No one gets into power apart from God. We can say that so and so is God’s man or woman for the job, but ultimately that is an estimation that is left up to God. I can buck that idea by saying, “God would never want that person in authority,” but according to Scripture, I would be wrong. | For there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God (Romans 13:1).
2. Fear God, not man. About half of you are going to be greatly disappointed by the election results. The person you voted for did not win, and with that loss will probably come a great deal of fear. Some of your fears might even come to fruition, yet Jesus made it clear that man is never who we should fear. Fear should be reserved for God and God alone. He is the one who is the final judge. He is the one who will care for us when earthly authorities do not. | Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:28-31).
3. Pray for those in authority. Today I spoke a prayer for both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump. I don’t know who will win, but I know that I am called to pray for whoever wins. This is true even if one or the other ends up pursuing policy that personally harms me or others. It's hard to pray for people I don't like, but it's still what I ought to do. | I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4). But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
4. God will win. Evil will lose. If you’re like most Americans, you believe that one candidate or the other is evil. So here is a good reminder if the “evil” candidate you didn’t vote for wins: God will have the final say. He will eventually defeat all evil, once and for all, for all time. And, amazingly, those who seek God will ultimately be on the winning side. | They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers (Revelation 17:14).
5. Nothing alters the two great commandments. Let’s suppose the next leader of this country ushers in a new era of evil, injustice, and persecution like we have never seen. What shall we do? We should remember that there are two great commandments: Love God and love others. And nothing, I mean nothing, should keep us from doing that. | One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:28-31).
These are thoughts that I find good to remember on the eve of the 2020 election. There are other reminders, some that might even be more important to you given your own propensity to worry, get angry, or add to the divisive tone of our culture. But in any case, I encourage you to set your eyes on the God who is over it all and dwell on all that He says is worthy of our attention. If you do this . . . and I do this . . . we all win. | Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
Okay, so you don’t have to listen to me, but if you’d like to listen to me you can. Here are a few podcasts I recorded this year for Search that help answer questions people commonly ask:
In addition, I’ve recorded a few podcasts lately for The Story Houston on particular Bible passages. If you’d like to listen to them, you can do so here:
No doubt the US is not a perfect country. It never has been. It isn’t today. And it never will be. If for no other reason than that I live here! But if something had to be perfect for me to love it, I would be a perpetually unhappy man. So, while I admit there are important issues before us today that need to be addressed, I pause this Fourth of July to share 10 things I love about the US of A.
John likes to help people wrestle with the big questions of life in his work with Search Ministries. He served as a pastor in Houston for 16 years, earned his doctorate at Biola University, and is a contributing author of Reasons to Believe: Thoughtful Responses to Life’s Toughest Questions.