Election years are always interesting to me for the simple reason that it reveals what much of the world holds in high esteem. Surely, the 2020 presidential election for the United States is no different than the rest in that regard, though it will undoubtedly shape up to be interesting, to say the least. The reason I say this is also relatively simple: it seems that no matter the outcome, the results will be highly contested and make the 2000 fiasco with hanging chads seem like a well-organized and relatively benign controversy.
The United States remains bitterly divided over a clash of worldviews, yet the surrounding nations are embroiled in much the same clash. It is not a simple matter of Red and Blue—though arguably this divide is in part representative of the battle at hand. Indeed, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). What we often refuse to acknowledge in the midst of this is that things truly are embedded into one of two major worldviews, which are in opposition to one another.
We tend to focus on the physical reality at play, forgetting that the devil genuinely is in the details, and those details undergird a greater spiritual reality that is always and ever at play. The powers and principalities which reside in the “unseen realm” inform what unfurls in the “seen realm.” Despite appearances, there is much greater unity in our world than meets the eye. While there is a myriad of ways to accomplish the desired outcome of a world without God, the net result is the same: the nations seek to throw off the fetters that bind them. There is only one true worldview that binds the hearts, minds, and souls of every man, woman, and child, and that is the Christian worldview.
The reason I boil this down to a worldview clash is that despite agreement among party affiliations on contentious issues, there are truly only two spheres of reality at play: there is the realm of vileness and impurity, and there is the realm of sanctification and honor (1 Thess. 4:7). Those who are not in Christ are in the realm of vileness and impurity. They have not been cleansed of their sins and are therefore under the wrath of God at this precise moment (Jn. 3:36). They, along with the whole world, are contently wrapped in the bosom of the Evil One (1 Jn. 5:19). Here therein do we find familial lines drawn then between children of the Devil and children of God. While you might feel a particular affinity to one child of the Devil over the next, perhaps the most subversive work Satan can do is to convince Christians they are right at home among his offspring.
I’ve made mention of it several times before, but I truly do believe that comfort is the greatest threat to the church. Not martyrdom, persecution, or even infringement upon constitutional rights. Comfort. Comfort takes my attention because it is all the more pernicious and subtle than the threat of suffering. Suffering has the profound ability to snap the Christian out of their slumber, whereas comfort lulls them to sleep. Persecution purifies the whole, whereas comfort tends to soil the lot. Martyrdom spills the blood of the saints, yet builds the church, whereas comfort leaves souls content in thinking it will always be someone else’s job. The great question of pastors worth their salt is never how comfortable you are, but if you will endure to the end, despite how very uncomfortable that task often proves to be.
I hold no qualms expressing that I’d rather live during the days of a Constantine than a Nero, for the former is far more advantageous for the people’s collective good and the peaceful spread of the gospel. The Christian might hold in question the motives of a Constantine, but far be it from them to suggest it is better to be dipped in tar and lit as Caesar Nero’s lanterns for his dinner parties. Don’t misunderstand that sentiment to be saying I believe we are necessarily there just yet (or that I am suggesting a relation between Trump to Constantine and Biden to Nero). I may be wrong, but for the time being, I sense that the church has been granted, at the very least, a pleasant little speed bump to ready ourselves and our children for that inevitable day.
The greater reality at work in either case though is that despite the raging of nations surrounding the kings of the earth, the gospel has this peculiar penchant for outlasting them all. Likewise, the Spirit of God works in conjunction with the Word of God to strengthen the saints so they may endure whatever fiery trials lay ahead. In all of it, Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, quietly at work, faithful to the end. Here then do we find the great task of the church rising to prominence once again, that is, if we are to be found faithful. We have churches to plant, schools to found, seminaries to establish, various mediums to infiltrate with pure, unadulterated, Christotelic teaching, and a world of unbelievers to reach. This will be our work until the fullness of Gentiles comes in and God then relinquishes His partial hardening on Israel (Rom. 11:25).
In the grand scheme of all things, past, present, and future, this year is but another moment in space and time where the Sovereign One has orchestrated the events unfolding around us for a greater purpose. This truth has been self-evident since the creation of the cosmos themselves. The great work behind the scenes of God’s work in all of history was to prepare the way for Jesus Christ, and even now, God is very much still at work within this world to prepare the way for Christ’s second coming. God intruded into the affairs of men and sent His Son to die on the cross, and God will intrude into the affairs of men once more by sending His Son to judge all the earth. The instruments used may indeed be strange—yet when has God not used methods beyond our own understanding to accomplish His own work?
Though the nations rage, and 2020 has been a year filled with much raging, God sits enthroned in the heavens, doing all that He pleases—and part of what pleases Him is laughter (Ps. 2:4; 115:3). The reason for that laughter is, again, rather simple: He has already installed His King on Zion, upon His holy mountain (Ps. 2:6). The nations can rage and rage and rage for all God cares, for it will be of little consequence to thwart His will. He has given the nations as Christ’s inheritance and possession. At the decreed time, Christ will descend from the right hand of the Father and claim what is rightfully His—and all the nations of the earth will be subdued in an instant. There will be no dispute, no charge of impropriety, nor even a hint of unfairness. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord.
None of this removes the importance of politics or suggests a sort of passive indifference towards it all. I am of the persuasion that political engagement is incredibly important—especially if you are fortunate enough to live within the United States. We enjoy an opportunity afforded to few in the span of history. Rather, my aim is to decidedly bring things back into a crystal-clear focus: all who are not in Christ are antichrists. What this invariably means is not that we are to see them as enemies, though they indeed are enemies of the gospel. We are to see them as our mission field. We are to embrace a sense of holy discontent and discomfort, in that our constant burning focus is the glory of God through the expansion of His Kingdom, rather than the glory of man. We are to call all peoples to “Kiss the Son,” lest God be angry with them and they perish in their rebellion, when His wrath ignites in an instant.
All of time and space is hurtling towards this reality and will culminate in the Kingdom of God being realized in full, where sin, death, and Satan will be no more. There is no molecule out of place in this world; all things, both good and bad, come forth from the One who is the rightful King of all the earth and all things—and I do mean all things—are woven together by God for good, according to His purposes. Do you believe that? I’m not asking if you merely accept this reality. Do you praise God for that? Does this reality drive what you fear and do not fear? Does this reality reflect itself in your evangelization of the lost, whatever side of the political spectrum they may fall? There is much work to be done. Let it not be said of us that we were a people of comfort, but rather, a people stretched thin on every side in our efforts to proclaim Christ and Him crucified. If we spent even half of the effort and excitement over this endeavor as we do the results of an election, even if we failed spectacularly, we would be all the better for it.