Wednesday, November 7, 2012
the morning after
On the morning after our national elections, this is what I’m thinking: the work of the church is far more important than the work of the government.
Why is this?
Jesus said his church would prevail against the gates of hell (Matt 16:18). His kingdom is an eternal kingdom that outlasts and supersedes all governments (Dan 7:14). The church is God’s own possession, purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28).
It is the church that can care for souls as well as bodies (Acts 2:42-47). Wherever the church has gone, orphanages and hospitals have been established, and the outcast, the lonely and the dispossessed find a home.
It is the church that has gifted teachers who proclaim eternal truth (1 Cor 12:28ff). The church is the pillar and buttress of truth (1 Tim 3:15). God has given many special gifts to the church whereby people can be restored and built up.
It is through the church that God’s manifold wisdom is made known to heaven and earth (Eph 3:10). Angels long to look into the work of the preaching of the gospel, which is the special work of the church (1 Peter 1:12).
The church is united to the life-giving headship of Christ (Eph 1:22; Col 1:18). God never calls the church “a drop in the bucket", as he does the nations (Isa 40:15). God’s glory is upon the church (Eph 3:21; 5:27). He nourishes and cherishes her (Eph 5:29).
Churches are the golden lampstands of light in the dark world. (Rev 1:20)
It is churches that bring families together and bring hope and a new way to love through the Holy Spirit. It is the church that knows and can practice forgiveness through the power of Christ. It is the church that teaches truth not pragmatism.
Government programs usually do not capture the hearts of people, which the love of God’s people can do. It was the church in Czechoslovakia and in Poland that changed their governments peacefully through their own suffering. I think of the words and works of people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr., whose impact has long surpassed the works of most elected officials.
It is the values of God’s kingdom which political candidates often use to promote their election campaigns -- values and hopes which they are largely unable to bring to pass. This is true, I believe, of any political party, whether red or blue or otherwise. I felt this was an important election, and I thought through the issues, and I voted. And I will vote again. But I'm neither gushing nor despairing today, for many very important things have not changed at all.
So, don’t be overly dismayed if your candidate lost. Don’t be overly exuberant if your candidate won. Political leaders are capable of much damage and much good. But both the evil they do and the good they do is limited within the bounds of God’s sovereign plan for the nations.
And his plan for the nations centers primarily on the advancement of the gospel. Remember, of all that Caesar Augustus accomplished in the ancient world, he merited only one mention in Scripture: that he called for a census which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem to give birth to the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 2:1). The everlasting government of God rests upon his shoulders (Isa 9:6).
Now that the elections are over we should get back to the work of the church. We should pray for our president and all our newly elected leaders, and respect their offices, but mainly we should be about being the church and faithfully proclaiming the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified for our sins, risen bodily, ascended in glory, and returning soon to judge the nations.
The work of the church is eternally more important than the work of governments.