Of course, we do not have a king -- Washington is to blame or credit for that. But that has not kept us from looking to the government to solve our problems, particularly as a church. Now democracy may or may not be better than having a beneficent mortal
king and the debate on that point would go on long but whether kings or presidents or prime ministers, government does not replace our responsibility as citizens, our duty to God, and our calling to live God's love toward those around us. For all our claims to liberty, our history shows that we have abused the gift of freedom for personal license more than we care to admit and have not exploited the gift to pursue personal righteousness as we ought. Yet, governments and political leaders remain convenient targets for our wrath and convenient places to look for solutions to the things that trouble us.
“Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put one’s trust in mortals. Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put one’s trust in princes” [Psalm 118:8-9]. This is not simply about kings or even presidents but about the great temptation to trust in political solutions to moral problems, to seek an answer from government for questions that only God can solve, and to look to government to do for us what God has called us to do for ourselves and our neighbors. It is not only government overreach that has resulted in the abandonment of churches from social services, it is also the convenience of leaving this duty and its cost to somebody else. Relieved of the conscience of it and its financial cost, we are free to pursue the most important object of our desire -- ourselves!
As a new president comes into office amid familiar conflicts, problems, and challenges, it might be good to remember not to put too much stock in politicians and their promises but at the same time not to forget to hold them accountable to God's will and law. At the same time, it would also behoove us to remember that no government is to replace our own personal responsibility to follow the commands of God that lighten our feet and guide our paths as the redeemed of the Lord and no entity is to relieve us of the responsibilities we bear toward each other and those in need. Trust in the Lord, walk in His ways, and delight in His Word.
There is one more thing to remember. Sometimes we get exactly who we deserve. If we continue the way we have and disparage even those who are good and decent folks in the political arena, we will have no one left to vote for except scoundrels. I am as saddened by those good and decent folks who are discouraged from public service because of the cost to them and their families as I am those in public service who betray our trust. At the same time, no cause is more profound and no need more urgent that the gift of life. At minimum, we must use this as a litmus test for who it is that is worthy of our vote and our support. Do no harm. At least do no harm. And in the end, pray for those who disappoint us as fervently as we would pray for those we would laud.