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Some things never change

The 2008 election is all about change, or at least that’s what I’ve heard from the candidates. McCain and Obama have been scrambling over each other to prove who will be the more effective agent of change in the White House. The congressional races are abuzz with “change.” It seems that if you’re running for office, then you better be about change, or you don’t stand to get elected.
So no matter who gets elected, Nov. 4 will usher in the promise of change for our nation. Like any election, some campaign promises will be left on the trail, and others will make their way into the Congress or even into law. But no matter how you slice it, Nov. 4 still means change.
So what are Christians to make of all this talk of change? Certainly some of the changes in this election are of great concern to the Church. There are ballot measures about embryonic stem cell research in California and Florida. The candidates have different stands on the rights of unborn children. And the definition of marriage is an issue in almost every state. Many Christians are concerned or even downright worried about this election. “What if we don’t ‘win?’ What if Christians are marginalized and we no longer have a voice in government? What happens the morning after Nov. 4?”
On Nov. 5, Christians will wake up and find that we still have the same responsibilities as we did on Nov. 4. We will still be responsible for obeying our country’s laws, paying our taxes, and casting our ballots. A great many things may change after Nov. 4, but our God-given responsibilities as citizens will not change.
Probably the most illuminating passage in the scriptures about our role as citizens is from Romans 13:1-2.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
This passage doesn’t mean that God rigs elections. He doesn’t hand-pick every leader. Rather, this passage means that any authority of our elected officials is ultimately from God. So the power of a king or a congress or even a president to rule the people is an authority from God. Recognizing this, Christians understand that our obedience to the government stems from our obedience to God. So unless the government is commanding us to disobey God (Acts 5:29), then we owe the government our honor and obedience.
This is not to say, however, that Christians shouldn’t be politically active. I’m not advocating that we all become doormats on the front porch of politics. We should be active in making ourselves heard and promoting laws and candidates that do not contradict the word of God. Political activism is not contradictory to the Christian faith. But our responsibilities as citizens should not be eclipsed by our activism. No matter how this election turns out, we still owe obedience, honor, and service to our nation and its leaders. And that’s something that will never change. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)

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