I get it. Both candidates are terrible.
To be honest, even the third party candidates I’ve seen aren’t too much better. We are all deeply dissatisfied with our options. One pastor recently tweeted, “Politically homeless best fits the Christian’s true identity.” I tend to agree.
Much of believer’s dissatisfaction, despite media reports, isn’t primarily due to the candidates themselves but due to confusion about the role of the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of God.
We have put so much attention and effort into making worldly kingdoms great that we forget that all nations, including ours, are but a drop in the bucket. Even the greatest nations are, at best, gold and, at worst, clay. But the kingdom of God is a mountain that fills the whole earth (Daniel 2:35).
Government is given too much credit for what it can fix and not enough credit for what it can destroy. When the kingdoms of the world try to step into Heavenly roles, they will find themselves ill-equipped. According to 1 Peter 2:14 government is instituted by God to “punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”
Government’s God-intended role is a corrective “deacon” for our good (Romans 13:4). Government should be a terror for bad conduct, not for good (Romans 13:3).
Peter has in mind “every human institution” of government from the president in Washington, D.C. to the small county policeman in Podunk County (1 Peter 2:13). From the White House to the county courthouse, government exists to execute punitive justice and to encourage right behavior in its citizens.
Yet as Christians, we are citizens of two kingdoms. This distinction is crucial. As citizens of an earthly kingdom, we are called to be in submission to imperfect human leaders.
As citizens of a Heavenly kingdom we are called to “good works” in our earthly kingdoms. Good works are the role of the Kingdom of Heaven not of kingdoms of earth. Earthly kingdoms are meant to encourage, and never hinder, the good works of its citizens.
As we come upon another election day, our choices are not ideal because God’s ideal government isn’t on the ballot. Our dissatisfaction is partially our own making.
We have elected and promoted candidates and agendas who have gone beyond their kingdom and sought to do a work that wasn’t intended for them.
We shouldn’t be surprised when injustice is rampant when kingdoms get crossed. We shouldn’t be surprised when personal responsibility and neighborly charity are replaced with greed and consumption when kingdoms are confused. We shouldn’t be surprised when we end up with two lackluster choices on election day when kingdoms of earth try to be the kingdom of Heaven.
But out of believer’s dissatisfaction comes another option. It isn’t easy nor popular. The solution for people who live in a culture that has confused kingdoms is to be the best citizens of both kingdoms they can be.
With eyes set on the Kingdom of Heaven, we must live as citizens of Heaven in the kingdoms of this world.
Peter says we are to “live as free people” and to live “as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). Peter concludes, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17).
Maybe real solutions are found when God’s kingdom is lived out in the lives of God’s people and not on the ballot box this November.