Don’t Trust Political Leaders

 In Blog, Charles Cavanaugh

(Paraphrase of Psalm 146:3)

As humans, we are always looking for something or someone to make things better for us. As Christians, we are prone to join with the world in looking for some savior who will win the day, turn things around, and make things as they ought to be. Our confidence is often bolstered by the rare and occasional statesman or stateswoman who honors our confidence by fulfilling their God-given responsibility to govern wisely and selflessly. So the next time we who have the privilege of electing leaders pray and work for someone we hope will be at least as good if not better. If only we can elect the right leaders, we will see real and lasting progress that will change our lives and those of our fellow-citizens for the good.

Yet our experience has shown us that this is not true. Political and governmental leaders are, more often than not, driven by selfish personal agendas that motivate them to make decisions that are at best not for the good of their constituents and at worst morally wrong. They often feel no sense of moral responsibility and no accountability to those who elected them.

However, these things should not be the primary motivation for us to stop looking to our leaders as deliverers. Scripture makes it clear that our trust should be in God and God alone. He is the one Who governs the affairs of humanity. So to trust in men or women to do for us what only the Sovereign of the universe can do is an affront to our Lord. He alone is worthy of our trust. He alone can and does change the hearts and decisions of rulers for the good of His people and the glory of His great name.

So should we as Christians pull out of political involvement and be unconcerned with the election of governmental leaders? Should we look with a detached cynicism at those who work hard in the political process and celebrate the election of those who support their hopes and plans? What is our perspective if we believe that God rules over all?

We must remember that our trust is ultimately only in our Lord. We honor Him by looking to Him to govern our lives and the governance of those we elect. We can rest in His wisdom and loving rule over His people and all things.

We must also realize that our God is a God of means. He uses circumstances and people to exercise His rule and to bring to pass the things He has ordained. He also vests in them the responsibility to fulfill their roles with wisdom and justice and holds them accountable for the way they govern.

Finally, under the lordship of Christ, we must commit ourselves to working for the election of those we are convinced are most likely to fill such roles and fulfill the trust we lace in them. Yes, I said trust: not ultimate trust, of course. But there is a level of trust we place in those we elect with the realization that they are sinful men and women who will fail us; sometimes woefully. And when they do, we can be sure that our God has not failed and that His purposes are not thwarted in the least. The tension between our Lord’s sovereign rule and our very real responsibility will never disappear this side of eternity. But it is a tension we can and must live with as the Psalmist tells us. “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in The Lord his God.” (Psalm 146:5)

Charles Cavanaugh


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