A couple of weeks ago, I watched the United States Vice-Presidential debate. But neither participants nor the moderator, with all their polish and presentation, spoke the most meaningful words.
In my opinion, the most important words of the evening came from an eighth-grader from Utah named Brecklyn Brown, in the form of a question that she sent in for the candidates to answer.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to get political here. The truth is I’m not even really going to get theological. I’m going to get universally practical, just like Yeshua did on so many occasions. He is the Messiah. He is also a great and gifted teacher. But in so many of his words, what is presented is his love for humanity and his desire for us to live at peace with one another.
Brecklyn asked the candidates this question:
When I watch the news, all I see is arguing between Democrats and Republicans. When I watch the news, all I see is citizen fighting against citizen. When I watch the news, all I see are two candidates from opposing parties trying to tear each other down. If our leaders can’t get along, how are the citizens supposed to get along?
The world is more divided than I recall ever having seen before, and I think that trickles down into politics and elections. The “issues” are real but not discussed that often. Character assault is the theme of the day in nearly all political spheres. That trickles down to the people. The 2020 elections in the U.S. are providing yet another opportunity for strong battle lines. Honestly, there are times when things feel like what I imagine it felt like in 1860, as the United States headed into the Civil War.
To Brecklyn’s question, what are we supposed to do? How can we possibly hope to restore peace in such a divided universe? As is so often the case, the word of God gives us instruction and inspiration for the way forward.
First of all, I think he might point us to the book of Daniel for a refresher on a very important point to remember about the God of all Creation: God has his guy.
What?! How dare you? How could you say that (insert the name of any candidate you don’t like) could possibly represent my God in any way?! Well, that’s not what I said. Let’s recall Daniel’s words:
Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:20-22 NASB, emphasis mine)
Remember that? The king he mentioned represents authority, rule, and government. What we read is that the God of the universe is in charge of that, even now, and even when we can’t understand how. He is not confused or discouraged about the choices. I believe that God is sovereign and knows what he is doing.
Am I suggesting that we don’t stand up for what we believe in? May it never be! Many have fought and died for the freedom of democracy to engage in debate and healthy disagreement for society’s benefit. But at the end of the day, even if your candidate does not win, God is still on the throne, and he has his guy for his purposes, in which we can wholeheartedly trust. No matter what country you live in, that is a fact.
But someone says, “So-and-so is completely opposed to all things of God! There’s no way God is in this.” I can’t help but think of all the leaders, horrible people, that God has used through the ages in the redemptive process of his people—Pharaoh in the Pesach story, Ahashverosh at Purim, Antiochus at Hanukkah, and Pilate in the Passion. God always has his guy (or gal for the matter), and whether or not we trust them, you can trust him.
“If our leaders can’t get along, how are the citizens supposed to get along?” Brecklyn asked. There’s a very straight answer I would have loved to hear one of the candidates give—we should not model our behavior as citizens, in any way, based on the “kings” elected to office. Rather, our behavior is to reflect the example of the King of kings, and no matter which country we live in or what political party we represent, we live as the citizens we truly are:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
That citizenship carries with it a unique constitution. Yeshua taught it when he sat on a hill in the beautiful region of the Galilee. You remember it, right? He said some tough things there that we could all stand to meditate on right now—don’t store up treasure here on earth; blessed are you when people despise you; if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if they want your coat, give them your cloak, too. These are pretty tall orders, but without getting into the nitty-gritty of these instructions, I think James sums up our calling in Yeshua quite nicely:
A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:18)
Beyond theology and politics, we must become practical in peacemaking. Our rabbi Yeshua said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
God will have his man in this (and every) election because he is God. Ultimately, what we hold on to is that he will also send, at just the right time, THE man, the Son of Man, to make it all right. As the sages love to say when confronted with inexplicable challenges, when he arrives, he will explain it all!
May it be soon and in our day.