What Hasn’t Changed Since the Election

Sunrise

The United States has just gone through an unpredictable and divisive Presidential campaign season. Our society has changed a lot over the last few decades and more changes are surely coming – whatever those changes might be. Yet there are certain things that have not changed since the election and will not change. In this article, we are going to consider six things that this election has not changed.

Note: This article was written before the election. This was done deliberately. I wanted to be sure to focus on what is true regardless of what the results might be and not react to whatever might have happened in the election. With that being said, let us consider six things that have not changed.

Our Citizenship Is in Heaven

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

There are certainly advantages that come with being a United States citizen. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the benefits of citizenship – just as Paul took advantage of his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:22-29). However, we need to always remember that our “citizenship in heaven” is far more important.

As Christians, we have been “transferred…to the kingdom” of Christ (Colossians 1:13). This kingdom is a heavenly one, as Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Since this kingdom is not an earthly kingdom, it “cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28). The United States may fall in two years or two thousand years – if this world remains that long (2 Peter 3:10) – but the Lord’s kingdom is eternal.

The Divinely-Given Role of Government

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (Romans 13:3-4).

People have many different opinions about what they think the government should do. Even Christians may differ on some matters in which sin is not involved. When such differences of opinion exist, we should agree to disagree (cf. Romans 14:1-4).

However, one thing upon which all Christians should agree is the role that God ordained for civil authorities. This role has not and will not change – to punish evildoers and, by extension, to protect the innocent (Romans 13:3-4). Paul told Timothy that Christians are to pray for authorities “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:20). This environment of peace and freedom for which Paul said we should pray comes as civil authorities properly carry out the role that God has given them. The reason why this is important is not just so that we might have an easier life here, but that the gospel might be spread more effectively. Notice the reason Paul gave as to why we pray that particular prayer for civil authorities: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). The God-given role of government has not changed and we should pray that whatever leaders are in office will carry out that work.

The Problems That Exist in Our Society

And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Our society as a whole has been in a period of sharp moral decline (abortion, homosexuality, etc.). Regardless of what the elected leaders decide to do, sin is going to continue because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In fact, we can likely expect the moral condition of our society to continue to deteriorate. Paul warned Timothy, “Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). Sin is progressive. The remedy for sin is the teaching of the word of God (1 John 2:1).

Besides the problems directly related to sin, there are other problems in our society (poverty, disease, etc.). Sometimes these problems are indirectly tied to sin and other times they are wholly unconnected to it. In either case, despite whatever efforts are put forth by those in power to fix these problems, they will not be eliminated. Regarding poverty, Jesus said, “For you always have the poor with you” (Matthew 26:11). Furthermore, the thing that they need the most is to have “the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5).

Government, regardless of the intentions or plans of the ones in office, cannot fix everything – only God can do that. Not only that, we have been warned in the Scriptures not to look to the authorities as our “god.” The people of Tyre and Sidon, since “their country was fed by the king’s country,” praised Herod as speaking to them in “the voice of a god and not of a man” (Acts 12:20-22). God struck Herod and he later died because “he did not give God the glory” (Acts 12:23). The suffering that exists in life will never be perfectly fixed by those in positions of power. We will not be free of such problems until we reach heaven (Revelation 21:4).

Our Responsibility to Be an Influence for Good

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

This starts with remembering that we are “strangers” in this world (cf. Philippians 3:20). Paul warned, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). If we are not different from the world, we will never influence others for good.

Peter indicated that we are to be an influence through our actions (1 Peter 2:12). Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Part of this includes our submission to civil authorities (1 Peter 2:13-14) to the degree that God allows us to submit to them. After all, Peter said we are to “act as free men” since we are “bondslaves of God” (1 Peter 2:16). Peter told the Jewish authorities, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). But if we can submit to civil authorities without violating God’s law, we are to do so.

We are also to be an influence through our words. Paul wrote, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6). Political discussions can often become contentious – the recent election season is proof of this. Yet as Christians, we must be careful with the words that we use and not put up unnecessary barriers that might hinder us from teaching others the gospel and influencing them for good. Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). That does not mean we refrain from talking about moral issues like abortion and homosexuality, but it does mean we discuss issues in such a way that does not turn people away before they have a chance to consider the truth. Consider what Paul told Timothy: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Our Responsibility to Continue Serving God

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

The church in Smyrna was going to suffer persecution, but they needed to remain “faithful until death.” In the same way, we must finish our course as Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

We need to remember that Jesus has “all authority” (Matthew 28:18). Therefore, we are to obey Him in all that we do (Matthew 28:19-20). His word always trumps the laws of men (cf. Acts 5:29; 1 Peter 2:16). So we are to do what He has instructed us to do regardless of the consequences that might come in this life. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). No matter what might happen, as Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

The Uncertainty of the Future

Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).

James warned about planning for the future in such a way that we ignore the fact that much of our lives are out of our control. The same principle applies to the future of this country – we do not know what will happen tomorrow or at anytime in the future.

Some have made bold statements about what will happen if the election goes one way or another. But we cannot know those things. The wise man asked, “If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen?” (Ecclesiastes 8:7). He said elsewhere, “I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). The future is uncertain. Even those things that seem like a sure thing do not always come to be.

The only thing we can know for certain about the future is what God has told us: “He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). Therefore, because we can know that this will happen, we need to be sure we are ready for that day.

Conclusion

Regardless of the outcome of this election or what changes may be in store, there are certain things that have not changed. The points considered in this article are certainly not an exhaustive list, but these are some points that we need to remember.

Let us not allow the future of this country or the state of political affairs be a distraction and choke out the word of God in our lives (cf. Luke 8:14). There are far more important things that deserve our attention. Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Let us be sure to focus (or refocus) on those things that truly matter.


When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on Love, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Thankful.