How Politics Points Toward God
This is not a post about President Trump, the right, left, or anything in between. Rather, it is a reflection on Inauguration Day. Inauguration Day sparked intense reactions from our community, from marches, to riots, to celebrations. There is no shortage of words to describe the emotions of our people: delight, disgust, horror, hope, optimism, pessimism, resolve, panic. Why such diversity? Why such intensity?
I think it is because our political views go right to the core of our being. When you think about politics, you think not only about how the government should be run, but how our world should be. Your deepest values concerning justice, peace, and prosperity come boiling to the surface. That is likely why so many people have a distaste for discussing politics. Many of us enjoy living non-confrontationally with our neighbor, quietly keeping our own views to ourselves. However, when the future of our country and our children is at stake… when decisions affect the ability of thousands to receive healthcare and whiffs of corruption fill the air… suddenly, we can no longer remain quiet. The anger becomes public outbursts. Tears flow. Many shake their heads in bewilderment, wondering if their most cherished ideals will still be protected tomorrow.
Ironically, in the face of such divisive, soul-tugging matters, there may be a great key for unity. While we may be repulsed by the views of others and find it difficult to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them, I believe President Trump’s campaign slogan is likely true of all of us. We do share a common goal even if our methods differ. We want America to be great again. For that matter, we want the world to be great again.
I believe this earnest hunger for an upright world filled with justice and equality ultimately points to God.
Can Government Save Us?
The other night, I was discussing the political state of our country with a close friend of mine. He happens to be a stalwart supporter of Bernie Sanders and is convinced that our nation will plunge into a downward spiral under Trump. At one point, he turned to me and said, “Well, I guess that’s just the problem with a democracy where only the richest 1% have power. If only we had a better system, things would be different.”
It is true that there is always room for improvement in the political world. Despite its flaws, I love America and believe that our political system is an improvement over many others throughout history. That is not only because our society values personal freedom and opportunity, but because our system was built with a robust safety measure of checks and balances. Our founders wisely understood that without limits, there was greater potential for the misuse of power. Put differently, our founders understood the potential for the corruption of the human heart and devised a system that would not crumble under evil. This mirrors the biblical teaching about the government’s duty to protect its people from evil. As Romans 13 explains, “the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
However, if this is the intended function of government, it should be painfully obvious that no government lives up to the ideal. There has never been a single system of government that has avoided corruption. Even the government of God’s chosen people in ancient times, the Jews, was riddled with corruption. Most of the Old Testament is dedicated to recording this tragedy, with the ultimate injustice of government being the way that the kings would turn their people away from God.
If every previous government has failed, can we be confident that any government will finally succeed in the future? Will government ever escape the taint of selfish, power-hungry rulers who exploit the people for their own gain? Will good ultimately triumph over evil? Will true justice and equality be ushered in?
I don’t think so… not so long as human beings are in charge. A fundamental recognition of the Christian worldview is that humans are fallen by their very nature. We all have a degree of self-centeredness to us. We all fall prey to various temptations. Consequentially, every government is going to experience problems. If you think about it, it’s almost pathetic that the best we can do is come up with a system that limits our potential for evil.
The Perfect Government
I assert that a perfect government is possible only under a certain set of conditions. First, because governments run by multiple, equal rulers are slow and divisive, the ideal government must be led to by a single person who can quickly make decisions. That person must be able to perfectly make every decision about society, meaning he requires perfect righteousness, justice, and wisdom. However, even being perfectly wise is not enough. He must also have perfect access to ALL information to be able to render the best verdicts possible. This ruler must never make a mistake. He must have the power to enforce the law of the land and subdue all evil beneath him. And this ruler must reign forever, lest a flawed being take over his position and bring the government to ruin.
In other words, this ultimate monarch must be God.
While none of this proves that God is real, wouldn’t it be amazing if He was? Indeed, the Christian worldview teaches that Jesus will one day take up his rightful place of rule above every earthly king. This will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, “and the government will rest on his shoulders.” This prophecy continues, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:7).
What will God’s Kingdom be like? Consider this passage from Revelation 21:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
A Hope for the Future
The hope of God’s future kingdom is one of the great treasures of the Christian worldview. In the meantime, there is much work to be done. We should continue to participate in the system and make the world a more peaceful and just place. However, I rest easy at night knowing that whatever troubles we encounter today, God will ultimately set right in the end.
Is this mere wishful-thinking? I could see why people might think that. It is certainly a reflection of the future that many of us hunger for. But this is not just wishful-thinking… this is reality. If the idea intrigues you, perhaps it might be time to investigate the evidence for God.