Today is election day…and contrary to what you might expect or even hope for I am not going to argue for or against any particular candidate. I’ll leave my clearly-political message to this: be sure you vote. While I have definite opinions and convictions and which candidate should be elected president, the tremendous thing about our country is that we have the right to disagree and the freedom to let our voice be heard.
I will also say this, though: regardless of who wins the election today, you and I have the responsibility to submit to the government tomorrow.
Titus 3:1-2b says, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one….” Paul, writing to Titus with instructions for pastoring the church in Crete, reminds us all that Christians have the responsibility to respect and submit to the government regardless of who is in office and whether or not we like him or her. This, of course, is not the only passage where Paul addresses this issue–he talks about it in Romans and in 1 Timothy. Peter addresses it, too. Jesus taught–and modeled–submission to human government.
It is interesting to consider the fact that throughout Scripture the followers of Christ encountered persecution and punishment from human government, yet no where does Scripture allow for speaking against the government or refusing to yield to its authority–with one exception, that I will get to in a moment.
Think about it… Jesus began His earthly life fleeing to Egypt because Herod–the government–wanted all of the infant and toddler boys killed in order to rid himself of this new king. At the end of His life, Jesus stood before Pilate and willingly accepted the death sentence. When Pilate asked Jesus, “Don’t you know that I hold your life in my hands–that I have the power to put you to death?” Jesus responded by informing Pilate that he had no power at all other than that which God allowed him to have.
If any New Testament believer had a legitimate reason to despise and resist human government it was Paul. He was imprisoned, stoned, whipped and more by governmental authorities because he preached the gospel. Peter, too, suffered at the hands of government; he was crucified upside down for his testimony. Yet, Jesus, Paul and peter all taught and modeled submission to government.
And not only submission, but respect. Notice that immediately after Paul tells Titus to remind his church to be submissive to authority, he says to speak evil of no one. As I mentioned in this space a few days ago, Christians sometimes struggle in this area. Many Christians tend to have very strong political opinions, which is fine. What is not fine is that many of those same Christians tend to speak in nasty, vicious, offensive ways about those on the other side of the debate. Just last week I read something written on a social networking site by a professing Christian that contained the most despicable, disrespectful, disgusting language I have ever seen directed at a politician. Such language only reflects poorly on the individual using it, it reflects poorly on Christ and damages the cause of Christ. It is difficult if not impossible to maintain an effective Christian testimony while simultaneously ripping someone apart verbally who is in a position of authority. In Titus 2 Paul instructs older men, older women, younger men, younger women and slaves regarding their responsibilities. In each instance Paul also points out that the main reason for acting as he described is to avoid giving opportunity to attack Christ and the message of Christianity. The same principle holds true here regarding political speech.
So when you wake up tomorrow morning, regardless of who the president is, remember that he is only in office because God has allowed him to be. Remember that the office itself is worthy of respect. Remember that God has called us to respect and submit to those in positions of authority and yes, that even includes presidents we did not vote for. And if the candidate you wanted to win did not, thank God anyway for the privilege you had to vote, remember to pray for the president…and resist any temptation to speak evil of him.