It’s 2016, and the United States is due for a new president. You may have noticed that everyone has an opinion about which candidate evangelical Christians should support. I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated when I overhear brothers and sisters in Christ describe one candidate as inherently superior to another. Here are two things for believers to keep in mind this election year:
1. A Christian is not obligated to endorse any single candidate or party.
Christians are free to vote for any candidate if their consciences allow it—as long as the candidate is not the embodiment of pure evil (like Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious in the Star Wars saga). Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today nails this point about the political allegiance that should unite all believers:
The litmus test of an evangelical is not his or her stance on Donald Trump. The most decisive political act we perform is not our support for or against Trump or Cruz or Clinton or Sanders or whomever. Our most radical political act happens when we gather and worship together under the sign of the Cross—a sign of contradiction to a world that lusts for political power—bending the knee to the Lord who “brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of the world to nothing” (Is. 40:23, NIV) on the way to establishing a political order that knows no injustice.
As Christians, we are defined not by our political party associations or our search for a new political savior but instead by that heavenly city that is to come—a new political, global, social, and eternal society that is on its way and will arrive once Jesus returns at the end of history.
2. Many who treat their candidates as saviors in 2016 will be searching for another by 2017.
Regardless of the outcome of the coming election in November, the sad truth is that our political candidates will fail us in one way or another. We will like one policy and dislike another. The next president will make mistakes as we all make mistakes. They will inevitably let us down, because the world is complicated and full of more problems than we have time to solve.
We should be very wary of placing our hopes in our next presidential favorite to save us from all of our problems. Ultimately, the only one capable of doing this already has. Jesus Christ has already done it by hanging on a cross two thousand years ago at Calvary. Jesus Christ is the only savior—there is no other.
As the Psalmist writes:
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. (Ps. 146:3–7)
What I find so fascinating about this psalm is that the psalmist says we should not put our trust in princes. Notice that he didn’t say kings. If David wrote this psalm, David was himself the king. So this statement is utterly shocking, and David is submitting himself under the final authority of God.
Why? Because God alone is king and every other ruler is only a prince. In Romans 12, Paul calls civil rulers “ministers of God”—they are merely servants under his supreme rule. God alone is the source of all wisdom and justice; human leaders simply execute this justice in the public square. They do not have a right to the throne.
No matter who is president of the United States this November, Jesus Christ is still king. He sits on the throne and no one else. In saying this I mean no disrespect to the next president—whether a Republican or Democrat, a she or a he.
At the end of the day, even the breath of the best politicians will depart and return to the earth and all of the promises they made and the plans they had will fade away with them. This is true for all of us. But it is not true of King Jesus. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Trust not in presidents.