God over Nations

"Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: 'Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.  He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.  He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in the darkness, and light dwells with him'."  Daniel 2:19b-22

When I woke up on Wednesday of last week, I knew something had fundamentally changed.

The United States of America had elected the first African-American President in its 230-plus-year existence.  Negating politics for a moment, and speaking on a purely human level - this was inspiring.  We observed one of the most landmark moments in the history of the American Presidency - a moment that many never dreamed they would actually see.

My concern in this post is not with the epic historicity of this Presidential election since I don't think it can be argued by any rational person anyway.  Nor is my concern with unlocking all of the political pros and cons of an Obama administration (we all knew when we woke up on Wed. November 5th that no matter who was elected, we would not be happy with either a few, or many, things).  My concern is with the reaction of many in the evangelical stream of the Church in the United States.

Let me first say, clearly, that I have no problem with people who are passionate for issues that they consider moral imperatives.  I am one of those people.  This is not a shot at passion for a cause that is noble.  What I am concerned about is how that passion translates, and what message it sends from those of us that claim to follow Jesus.

As the reality of an Obama presidency set in, I began seeing some of the most fear-mongering, panic stricken reactions from those in the Christian community (mostly "white" Christian community to be honest).  Some Christian leaders wrote fictitious letters about the year 2012 and what has happened due to an Obama presidency.  Other people went apocolyptic and felt that they "knew" that Obama was the perfect candidate for the Antichrist (I actually got emails about this, some more panicky than others).  Yet others posted on their Facebook pages that if you voted for Obama then there is no way you could be a Christian (ah, civil religion at its best - scary).  Amazingly, others began to associate Obama with Muslim terrorists because his middle name is "Hussein" (as an aside, nobody ever makes such an association of McCain even though a domestic terrorist was named Timothy McVeigh.  I still have yet to hear "Well, McCain is Scoth/Irish and you know [wink wink] what that means").

I say all this not to defend Obama's political positions; those can be argued and should be evaluated with a holisitic Biblical worldview (and, on a personal note, I vehemently disagree with him on some of those very issues).  This is simply to remind the Christian community that panic, fear, and a veiled hate is not becoming of a follower of Jesus.  It looks nothing like Jesus.  Isn't it amazing that some of the same voices that preach that "God is in control" have acted as if the world has gone off its axis?  What does an unbelieving world see about the faith that we profess?

We need to be reminded by Daniel of something very important.  Even a cursory reading of the book of Daniel reminds us that the Sovereign God is ruler of the nations.  Not kings.  Not Presidents.  God Almighty.  If God so sees fit, a leader can go from king to cattle in a moment (read Daniel 4).  Only God is Soveriegn over the nations and the affairs of men.

This is reiterated by Jesus on a number of occasions, most notably when he is teaching on the end of all things in Matthew 24.  And what does He say our response should be regarding all that will happen? Very simply, "Don't freak out."  And this was consistent with his teaching from his great discourse on the grassy hill in Matthew 6:25-34 (you should go back and read it.......right now).

So, what am I suggesting our response should be if we are one of those who is troubled by the election of the new President?

Faith, hope, and love.

So, what am I suggesting our response should be if we are one of those who is thrilled by the election of the new President?

Faith, hope, and love.

Our mission doesn't change no matter who the President is.  We pray for him - that God shows him the path of wisdom and righteousness.  And we rest in the fact that God is the Sovereign over the nations and the affairs of humanity.