Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;  Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. (1 Peter 2:13-14)
In November of this year, Americans will go to the polls to vote for the person that will lead our country for the next four years. For those of you that follow politics, you know the incumbent president Barack Obama is running for his second term while the Republican Party is in the process of narrowing the choices of candidates to find the person that will run against him.
This year, as it has been for quite some time, Christians are faced with a list of candidates that do not reflect what we feel is the most important qualification of any candidate—does this person fear God and is he concerned about what is biblically and morally right for our country? While the economy is certainly a grave concern for all of us, Christians should be more concerned about social issues than economic ones. We do not feel comfortable voting for people that uphold abortion rights and/or support the homosexual agenda. These are very clearly against the teachings of scripture. This year is also somewhat unique in our history since we could have a member of a cult running for president. We simply do not have good choices, but this has been the case for many, many years.
Unfortunately, there are many compromises in politics and since politicians are more concerned about being elected than anything else, they will fudge their convictions for a few more votes. In my opinion, it has been a long, long time since we had someone that we could have full confidence in their honesty and integrity. However, should Bible believing Christians be distraught because of this? Should we overly concern ourselves with what government is doing? I believe it is the duty of Christians to vote with firm biblical convictions, but I am not overly concerned about who will become the next president.
1 Peter has a perspective on this. Consider the conditions of first century Christianity in the Roman Empire. At the time of the writing of 1 Peter, Nero was the emperor. There are few that could rival Nero for his despicable character, cruelty, and hatred of Christians. There was nothing moral or favorable towards the rapidly growing Christian community in his empire. Underneath Nero were many governors scattered throughout the provinces of Rome that imitated his licentious lifestyle. And yet knowing this and living through it, Peter encouraged Christians to submit themselves to their leaders. As long as those leaders did not require them to act against their faith and the commandments of God, Christians were to obey and do so cheerfully.
We do not find diatribes by Paul or Peter or the other apostles against Roman leaders. When Paul appeared before Felix and Festus, he was respectful to them even though he knew the wickedness of their hearts. There are many directions I could go in commenting on this, but I have space to address only one. The most important consideration for any Christian is not what human government does, but what God wants us to do as citizens of His kingdom. If we believe that God is our sovereign ruler, then we know that our government is not going to stop the advance of God’s kingdom. We haven’t even begun to see the wickedness that existed in the Roman Empire; we have never tasted the horrible persecution that Christians lived under in those times. And yet, the gospel thrived in that time; God’s kingdom made greater strides then than it has in any succeeding generation.
The cause of Christ is far better served by Christians demanding holiness and righteousness from the leaders of churches than the leaders of government. We are far better off being living testimonies of Christ rather than rabidly signing people up to picket, protest, and petition what is a godless government anyway. We will change the world with the gospel not government. We will do it the same way first century Christians did. Rome was brought to its knees and finally destroyed by the gospel, not by legislation.
So, remember this while you worry about who the next president will be. He has no effect—zip—nada—on the kingdom of God. Thank God for that!
Pastor V. Mark Smith