A historic election season in the United States has come to a close, and the nation has selected a new leader who energized the hopes and dreams of millions with his vision for America, epitomized in his slogan: "Change We Can Believe In."
President-elect Barack Obama will soon take office as the chief executive of a country that, despite its severe economic and social troubles, is still widely considered the world's only "superpower." How should Christians react to his election?
First and foremost, Christians should be praying for their President. The Apostle Paul wrote: "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence" (1 Timothy 2:1–2).
Christians, considering themselves "aliens and pilgrims" in this world, with their true citizenship in heaven (1 Chronicles 29:15; Philippians 3:20), do not participate in worldly politics (see Dr. Roderick C. Meredith's article, "How Would Jesus Vote for President?"). However, Scripture reveals that it is God who made Senator Obama's victory possible, and that he will be ruling with God's consent (Romans 13).
In the weeks ahead, we can expect to see various overwrought reactions to this election. Many harbor unrealistic expectations of imminent peace and prosperity, and we must wonder how they will handle their inevitable disappointment. At the other extreme, some view the newly elected President as essentially un-American, and wonder whether he will play a role in bringing an end to the United States of America as we now know it.
We should remember that many expressed similar feelings when George W. Bush was elected. Political partisans often overestimate the damage their opponents can do. Yes, this present age will indeed come to an end soon—but not because of George W. Bush or Barack H. Obama. God is more powerful than any human ruler, and Christians should trust that God is in charge and will continue to use world affairs to bring about His purpose. If you have not already done so, read our free booklet Prophecy Fulfilled: God's Hand in World Affairs, to see how God has been carrying out His plan on Earth since long before Barack Obama was even born.
What of the slogan: "Change We Can Believe In"? Notice what the book of Proverbs says about change: "My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not associate with those given to change" (Proverbs 24:21, NKJV). Is that verse an indictment of the slogan? Not quite. Look at how the verse is rendered in one modern English translation: "My children, you must respect the Lord and the king, and you must not make friends with anyone who rebels against either of them" (Proverbs 24:21, Contemporary English Version).
No, Christians are not to rebel against the rulers of their nations, nor to befriend such rebels. However, this verse also makes it clear that Christians must not associate closely with those who rebel against God. Though some around us may put the new President on a pedestal, overestimating what he can do—for good or for evil—to change the nation, we should be careful to avoid such idolizing of a man. Christians seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and look forward to the establishment of that literal Kingdom here on this Earth at Jesus Christ's return. Christians place their ultimate hope not on any human agent of change, but on a God who does not change (Malachi 3:6).
Change, however, is the destiny of every human being who accepts Jesus Christ's sacrifice, and through the Holy Spirit lives a life of obedience to God and His ways. What will happen at the trumpet blast upon Jesus Christ's second coming? That is when "the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory'" (1 Corinthians 15:52–54).
That is the destiny of those whom God is calling today. That is change we can believe in!