The Sovereignty of God and Culture Wars
Once again, it’s another election cycle. The political rhetoric is heating up like a pot of boiling water and the talking points are sharp as poisoned arrows. During my time in ministry, I have noticed an unsettling trend in the church (yes, even in my church). It seems that election time brings out the worst in people who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have witnessed relationships grow cold and even die, wars of words unleashed in different social media forums, and other unchristian behavior, all within the community of faith.
What is it that causes us to behave in such a manner?
I believe that the root of this issue is a lack of understanding about the sovereignty of God. We behave as if the work of creation’s redemption is completely up to us and therefore our political mobilization will bring about the restoration of all things. We behave as if God is not sovereign; that there is no redemptive plan; and if there is, God really needs our help and wisdom in order to pull it off. Sounds absurd, right? If we’re honest, we secretly believe that if we just had the right person in the White House and the right party in control, we would stop the downfall of America and turn things around. This is nothing more than humanism with a Christian veneer. Christians are swept up in movements to fundamentally change America. It has gotten so bad that some people actually believe that a party affiliation is what gives credence to faith. After all, Jesus is a small-government, socially conservative, fiscally conservative Republican, right? Or is he a big-government, socially liberal, left-leaning Democrat? Sadly, it depends on who you ask nowadays.
Does God’s word show us a better way?
The Scriptures teach plainly from beginning to end that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and faithful in his redemptive work to bring about his purposes and plans for his glory. He cannot and will not be contained or constrained by our man-made political structures and classifications. When we do not live under the peaceful and comforting reality of God’s sovereignty, our only other alternative is to look to something or someone else besides him for salvation and security. This idolatrous endeavor takes our devotion away from the one true God and our attention away from the ministry of the Gospel. We wait anxiously for election results as if there is no one who sits enthroned in the heavens.
I do believe that we should fulfill our civic duties as citizens by voting according to biblical values and speak out on important issues such as the sanctity and dignity of all human life. However, I also believe that we should participate in the civic process based on the understanding that our God rules and reign over all things; that he is the creator and sustainer of the universe; that he made decrees; and that he will fulfill all that he has spoken. We can’t approach the political process as if we are oblivious to how the story of redemption plays out. Yes; there are people pushing harmful agendas, and very real threats exist in the world, but Psalm 2 teaches us that when the infinite all-wise God sees the foolish finite schemes of man, he laughs. That’s right, he laughs! He exists even though people live, speak, and plan as if he does not. He was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8).
The culture war is one that is waged from a platform of fear , and this fear coupled with a pandemic of biblical illiteracy has hindered the relevancy and effectiveness of the church. Where we should be boldly speaking the truth in love, Christians often appear incredibly insecure and sometimes downright mean. Ideologues on both ends of the political spectrum know this and are more than willing to keep feeding fear, insecurity, and even hatred. But we have a more sure word of prophecy. God has revealed himself and his gracious work in the Scriptures. It’s time for the church to disengage from the culture wars and re-engage by God’s grace in the work to which he has called us.
We will be rejected, we will be persecuted, we will be misunderstood, and we will be mocked. Let it be because we are faithfully endeavoring to carry the message of the cross to a sin-cursed and broken world. Let it be because we are being used as earthen vessels empowered by God’s Spirit to mercifully serve our communities. Let it not be because we have put our trust in man-made structures that are fundamentally flawed and doomed to fail. Let us not forget that salvation is of the Lord.
How does your view of God’s sovereignty influence the way you engage in the political process?