Initially, Tuesday’s election left me a little bummed. The majority of candidates I voted for did not win. I felt a hint of despair. It looked to me as if things were moving in the wrong direction.
Despite these negative feelings, God gave me a peace about the election. I remembered that God is in control. I strongly sensed that behind all the flurry of human activity, God had been in charge of yesterday’s election and appointed a leader according to his plan. No, this does not convince me that Barack Obama is the perfect leader or will solve the nation’s problems, but I trust that God knows what is best and is ordering the future according to his will. As such, I have peace knowing that, no matter how circumstances appear, my life and my nation are in God’s hands. What more could I hope (or vote) for?
Remembering that God is in control led me to contemplate about power. Who has power? What is real power? Government leaders certainly possess a measure of power. So too, do Christians. In Romans 8:11, Paul writes that the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us and gives us life. If this is so, what could be more powerful? The spirit that raised the dead also empowers us. It enables us to carry on the mission of Jesus to preach good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and release the prisoners from darkness (Isaiah 61:1). Surely, these are impressive feats.
While politicians and governments can enact laws, they cannot force individuals to want to obey them. They can perhaps convince an individual to fear an action’s penalty, but they cannot inspire a person’s heart to love what is good. Rules can only address a person’s outward actions. Did not the apostle Paul point out the same regarding the Mosaic Law? It revealed sin, but it was powerless to keep people from sinning. “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law,” he explains to the Galatians (3:21b). It can tell people what to do, but it does nothing to help them do it.
In order to live a righteous life, I require a radical transformation, not of the external world, but of my own inner soul and spirit. The very deepest parts of me must change. This is the only hope for me, and similarly for the nation. The problems of the world lie not ultimately in systems or legislation, but in us, in our hearts of darkness.
The good news of the gospel though is that through the power of God exercised upon the cross people can experience this inner change and transformation. Christ redeemed humanity by dying our death, so that we could be empowered to live his life. Christ’s Spirit comes to reside inside a person and provide him or her the inner energy and power necessary to live the life of God. As a follower of Jesus, a person is clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27) and an heir of his Spirit (4:6). So, though once alone and unable to live rightly, the Spirit of Jesus in a person produces peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness, the very embodiments of the aim of the law to serve others with love. The Spirit is the only power that can make people who they need to be.
This incredible power to transform the soul has become available to everyone, and through this personal transformation the power to be the serving and healing hands of Jesus to a destitute and broken world. Do not look to others to change the world. The Spirit and power of Christ is within you. Open yourself and let it out.
The shortcomings of the law and this earthly government further remind me that my primary allegiance should be to another kingdom, God’s kingdom. I, however, so often place my trust in other things. I look to the government or laws to protect me. I trust my skills and my financial savvy to provide me with material prosperity. I think that if I buckle down and work hard enough, I can figure things out and take care of myself. Yet in all this, what kingdom am I building?-my own. Ought I to be about my Father’s business? Why do I worry so much about circumstances I cannot control when I can so easily be storing up treasures where moth and rust cannot destroy them? I do not know what stocks to invest in or what car to buy, but I know God calls me to invest in the lives of the people I meet everyday and to sow seeds of love and life into each present moment.
I need to spend more time involved in my Father’s business and caring for the crop his company is preparing for harvest. I need to remember that while I play with my own troubles, God has already ordered the universe and arranged my way. He is building an everlasting kingdom and inviting me to join him in his work. I need to choose in which kingdom to build and invest the moments of my life.