“The earthly city glories in itself, the Heavenly City glories in the Lord.” – Augustine
It is coming…
The presidential election is upon us. Signs are up. Debates are happening. Social media posts bombard our newsfeeds. The world watches America as it prepares for the election of the next president.
Politics has become entertainment for the masses. Allies of political parties have become more of a rivalry than fans of Michigan or Ohio State. We cannot go even ten minutes on social media without seeing a meme, a comedic article, a slam, or an opinion about politics.
Even in our churches, politics has probably become one of the leading topics of conversation in Christian fellowship and from the pulpit.
Have we made America, the constitution, and our American politics an idol?
What is an Idol?
The classic definition of an idol is anything we worship. Biblically, it is anything we put above God (Exodus 20:3-4). The Ten Commandments are clear – we are not to have any god, but our Creator. We should not worship anything other than the one who made us, sustains us, and saves us.
Therefore, an idol is anything we cling to as it provides something only God can do, or an idol is anything we find stability in more than God (Colossians 1:15-20).
Based on our definitions of an idol, we can create some criteria for what an idol in our world today would look like –
- An idol is something we look to for stability in our lives other than God (Jonah 2:8).
- An idol is something we look to for salvation out of troubling times other than God (Jeremiah 11:12).
- An idol is something we hold as the greatest thing on earth other than God (Isaiah 46:7).
We can all agree with these three items. An idol holds these three characteristics.
Instability in Politics
Think about the various political events that have taken place since 2018. Do you remember the hearings? Do you remember any of the decisions made? Do you remember the protests? Do you remember your own actions and thoughts?
Every month seems to bring another political decision. When that decision is put into practice, we either jump for joy or we fear our lives will fall apart.
What does Proverbs 21:1 say? The king’s heart and mind are in the hand of the Lord. God directs the decisions politicians make. Is God surprised when a law comes into play that makes our lives uncomfortable? Job confesses at the end of what seems like an unfair life that God is in control and will continue to worship his Creator (Job 42:2).
How are we doing with developing the attitude Job had? Are we able to say,”Democrats in charge or Republicans in charge, blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)? Or do we tend to say, “Our economy is good, my rights are intact, and I am comfortable. Blessed be the name of the constitution and the president.”?
It seems we have established our foundation for stability on the constitution or who is office rather than God. Colossians 1:15-20 displays beautifully the sovereignty and sustaining power of Jesus Christ. Not only does he sustain the world and is sovereign over it, but he redeems us. Psalm 19:7-11 describes the beauty and power of God’s Word. Can a political document bring more security and stability than God’s Word? Psalm 1 illustrates the deep roots and stability of one resting, meditating, and focusing on God’s Word.
Are we trying to find stability in our current political situation over finding it in God and his Word? We claim to stand on God’s Word, but are we really standing on our American politics and looking to our government for stability?
Electing Your Savior
With the election coming up, we see signs, apparel, and social media posts boldly declaring who should be in office and who should not. The night of the election, we stay up late with eyes glued to the TV as voting results pour in. We see the map of the states turn blue or red. It is the most suspenseful situation to be in.
When votes are counted, how to we react to the results? Are we happy or are we crying? Matthew 10:28 declares we should fear God over those who can destroy our bodies. Yet, when election results are in and they do not go the way we want, how do we react?
However, how do we view the candidate we want? Is it like Israel’s attitude in 1 Samuel 8? They wanted a king that would lead them, so they went with the man who looked good and stood above the rest (I Samuel 9:1-2). The people thought Saul would be their savior among the nations. Yet, where was his heart?
When we look at the candidate of our choice, we may not say he or she is our savior, but from how much we emulate that person could we say we view him like our savior? When we talk about the destruction of America and our way of life unless (put name here) is elected, then we have made a political candidate a savior. When we fear for our rights unless a certain person is elected, then we have made a politician into a savior.
Even if a presidential candidate is a Christian, is he greater than the one who freed you from sin? Or are we more concerned about our rights here in America that we have forgotten the freedom we have in Christ? If our right to have firearms is taken away, does that take away Christ? If our churches are shut down, does that erase our salvation?
If our rights not being upheld is the perseverating thought, then our constitution is our savior. If the thought of having our guns, free speech, and any other freedom we have being taken away freaks us out and we desperately need someone in office to keep that form happening, then our savior is not Jesus Christ.
We may not say a politician is our savior, but when we honestly look at our thoughts and actions regarding our rights, is Jesus really our savior and in control?
This the Greatest Nation
Ever seen The Greatest Showman? The opening song is exciting – Watch Here.
The opening line, “Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for.”
This song is all about how you haven’t seen anything yet, until you’ve seen this show.
Don’t we have the same attitude towards America? Ladies and gents, this is the country you’ve waited for. Since its founding, America has been seen as “the lighthouse to the nations” or even “the new Promised Land.” The pilgrims and the puritans saw America as the greatest nation on earth. Today, many of us do as well. We flaunt our flags on clothing items, we put down other nations and people groups for not being like us. We see America as the greatest nation.
However, is America the greatest nation?
Hebrews 11:8-10 states Abraham, even though he was led to the land that would be called the Promised Land, looked for a better country. He saw off in the distance a better country. He did not see America. He saw what is described in Revelation 21. He saw the greatest country in the world. He saw our home. He saw the country and city built by God for his people. America is not this city. It does not even come close to it.
Yet, why do we see our country better than any other country? Are we not filled with sin or do we have some special blessing? Sure, we may have more freedoms than another country, but is America really the greatest country?
Think about the place where we have true freedom: no pain, no tears, seeing Jesus face to face. Our freedoms in America do not even compare to what is to come.
Since this is true, why do we flaunt our country as the greatest? Have we put our country above our true home with God?
Tearing Down our Constitutional Idol
When we look at the biblical criteria of an idol, and we look at our attitudes towards our country and politics…
Have we made America and its government our constitutional idol?
We are quick to say no. But answer these questions?
Can you be content with the “other party” in control?
Can you be content if your guns are taken away?
Can you be content if America turns to socialism?
Or are you only content if your candidate and your rights are upheld?
Can you really say with Paul that we are learning to be content in all situations (Philippians 4:11)
If we truly look at our thoughts, words, and actions regarding our politics, we can conclude that we have a constitutional idol.
It is not wrong to vote, voice an opinion, or even be concerned about our country. However, how do we view America in our churches? How many times a year do we sing about the greatness of our country, praise God for our freedoms, and then pray that our candidate is elected? Does that show trust in God or in an idol formed with our hands?
Romans 13:1-7 says to submit to the governing authorities, because God is the one who puts rulers on the throne (or presidents in the White House). God knows the outcome of every election. He knows our fears, and he tells us, “Cast your worries on me, because I will care for you (I Peter 5:7).” Our vote does matter, but can we trust God’s voice to carry us through? If we can’t, then we have an idol.
Which country do we glory in? Which country are we more concerned about? Are we concerned about America or our home with God? Which ruler/president drives our actions? God or Trump or the next president? Is Jesus truly the one we can rely on for salvation, or do we see our president as our savior?
There are two cities: America and the New Earth. Which one truly excites you to be apart of? Which one brings stability, redemption, and true worship to your soul? It is only in the King of the New Earth we will find these things. It is time then to tear down our constitutional idol, and to refocus our allegiance to the sovereignty of God (because he promises to always be in control).
If we truly believe this, then how will our thoughts and actions change towards America? How will America change its view of Christians when we find our stability, our salvation, and our greatest joy in Jesus and his country that is to come?