You may vote like it all depends on you;
you must pray like it all depends on the Lord.
As election results are announced later today, let us remember our gospel-shaped responsibilities.
Jesus teaches that we must give to God whatever bears God’s image, and give to Uncle Sam whatever bears his image (Mark 12:17).
That is our fundamental responsibility. But what does that look like in real life?
The apostles put skin on the bones of Jesus’ teaching (so-to-speak). Here are some practical instructions and applications for our consideration.
No matter what:
We must worship the triune God in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)
We must proclaim the good news that Jesus is Lord over all nations – including our own. (Mat 28:18-20)
We must submit to the rulers and authorities of our nation – not revolt or rebel. (1 Pet 2:13-14)
We must fear God, love the brotherhood, and honor everyone – including the president. (1 Pet 2:17)
We must obey the governing authorities in all things – except where they contradict God’s Law. (Rom 13:1-4; Acts 5:29)
We must pay taxes and show proper respect to governing authorities. (Rom 13:5-7)
We must love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Rom 13:8-10)
We must offer prayers for all people – especially governing authorities of our nation and beyond. (1 Tim 2:1-2)
We must lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way, for this is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. (1 Tim 2:2-3)
We must seek the peace and prosperity of the city where God placed us, and pray to the Lord God on its behalf, for in its welfare we will find our welfare. (Jer 29:7)
We must always remember that our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Phil 3:20-21)
The Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes the responsibilities of the governed in this way:
It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute or other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, does not make void the magistrates’ just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to them: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted (Chapter XXIII, Of the Civil Magistrate, IV)
In sum, a gospel-shaped perspective on the responsibilities of the governed helps us see that the governed are servants of God first, and servants of governments second. The gospel ought to form and inform (even reform and transform) our politics; politics must not be allowed to mis-inform or de-form the gospel.
Bottom line: Whether we exercise our Constitutional right to vote or not, whether our preferred candidates won the election or not, whether R’s or D’s take control of Congress, whether the economy Bulls or Bears, our gospel-based responsibilities remain the same.
We walk by faith, not by sight. We trust that whatever God ordains is right, for his glory and our good.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly ask that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom, in your Name, we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Book of Common Prayer 1928