Believe it or not, America, God doesn’t actually have a whole lot riding on this election. Believe it or not, this country of ours is not the meaning of world history. It is not the bringer of peace, nor is it the last great hope for the world.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to live in;
who brings princes to naught,
and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Believe it or not, our particular form of liberal democracy (a political notion that originated less than 300 years ago, mostly by people who were ardently anti-Christian) does not hold the created order together. It is not light shining into the darkness of the human condition.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
Surprising though it may be, the power to which someone is going to be elected this month is not the power to rule over the whole world. It is not the highest authority, and it is not the means by which God keeps evil in check.
God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:20-23)
Strangely, America is not God’s chosen agent for holding his creation together. It is not the focal point of human existence, and the president doesn’t actually get to determine human destiny.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
Counter-intuitive though it may be, America is not the first empire that has thought of itself as the center of world history, as the nation without which the whole world would fall apart. Nations have come before it, and nations will come after it. It is neither first nor last, and when it comes right down to it, America has exactly zero power over life and death.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18)
So maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t play the short game on this one and sell our souls to other gods–either in the shape of elephants or of donkeys.