March 14, 2016

Who’s in charge of the President? Verses to recall in election years

by Clint Archer

Truman ShowDirector Peter Weir’s modern masterpiece, The Truman Show (1998), is about a kid who is adopted by a broadcasting network. Unbeknown to the young Truman—but relished by anyone with a cable subscription—his every waking moment is being broadcast on live TV.

Truman’s whole life is spent in an island town (which is actually an elaborate movie set) and his entire family, friendship circle, and everyone he interacts with are all paid actors. Their lines are fed to them by improvising scriptwriters via earpieces.

This masquerade goes on for decades with flawless execution, except for a few comical glitches like stage lights falling from heaven and fame-seekers who crash the set.

The perpetual ruse effectively dupes the adult Truman, played by the inimitable Jim Carrey, into living a life in which he is literally the center of attention all day, every day. The sun rises and sets for him and the weather is altered to create the director’s desired ambience. Truman is the reason for the season…and for everything else that happens in his world.

It’s a poignant and thought-provoking story.

But sadly, there is real-life tragi-comedy being played out in society today. Many people pass their days as if they are a self-aware version of Truman. They function as if they are meant to be the center of the universe. They actually get upset when the backdrop, like the weather, doesn’t meet their expectations. They become disenchanted when personal plans and desires are not quickly championed by everyone else. They have a near existential crisis when the economy, the political scene, or the people in their lives don’t behave the way their self-directed script would prefer. It’s almost as if they are disappointed that they can’t fire the actors who refuse to collaborate with their script.

Some people behave exactly as if they were raised to believe everyone and everything exists for them.

But the Bible enters as a rock of truth that disturbs the reflective pond of Narcissus. God’s word disabuses us of our delusions of grandeur and solipsism. The Apostle Paul revealed to the Colossian church once for all around whom all of life should revolve.weather for truman

Col 1:16 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him.”

Here are two points to remember at all times…

1. ALL THINGS WERE CREATED THROUGH CHRIST

When Paul says “all things” he is talking about nature: the squirrels, and the duck-billed platypus, and the planets, yes, but that is not all. He plows on to say, “whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.”

The phrase “thrones or dominions” refers both to human and angelic seats of authority. And “rulers or authorities” refers to a person with the indisputable clout of a king or emperor.

You might say “Are you telling me that Jesus begot all of the world’s presidencies and parliaments? Did he appoint the Imperial reign of the Roman Caesars and designate the dynasties of China? Did he maneuver the monarchy into British history, and direct the democracy of America? Could he be the one who created the Scottish clan councils, and stationed the Zulu chieftains?”

Yup.

Jesus not only created the visible and invisible matter of creation, but also ordained the very ordering and administration of the systems in which we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:26-28). God could have brought forth the world and then just let humans run the place on their own. But he didn’t.

So you might ask: did God place Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Robert Mugabe into office? Is God responsible for allowing my dimwitted boss to rule over me?

Yup.

Dan 4:17 “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will, and sets over it the lowliest of men.”

Romans 13:1-2 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

The answer is a resounding yes and the application is simple: Submit.

Human authority is Jesus’ way of governing you. The King of kings is in charge of the president. Does this mean every decision made by someone in authority over you is a good and God-glorifying one? Not at all.

But authority doesn’t have to be right to be obeyed.

The only time we don’t obey is when obedience would mean sin. Like Peter and John who were told not to preach by the court, contra a direct instruction from God to do the opposite (Acts 4:18-20).

2. ALL THINGS WERE CREATED FOR CHRIST

We live in a Christocentric universe. The chief end of everything is Jesus Christ.

Pleasure exists so you can get a glimpse of what it will be like to enjoy Jesus forever. Pain exists so you can get a glimpse of what it will be like without Jesus. Paul also put it this way: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom 11:36)

Do you glory in Jesus? Do you want to? You can…by obeying him, by serving him, by singing to him, by trusting him, by talking to him and about him.

You exist for his glory. Does that excite you?

Do you love the thought that you exist to make God look glorious?”

-John Piper

Jesus is coming back to be glorified: 2 Thess 1:10 when He comes on that day to be glorified in His saints, and to be marvelled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Jesus belongs at the center of worship, of friendship, of science, of politics, of art, of commerce. And it is our privilege and responsibility to do our best to put him there and keep him there by the way we live and think and talk and vote.

Let’s remember that, as we inch closer to seemingly off-script events that may beget a disturbingly tragi-comedic election year!

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Jason

    A point I think is important regarding John and Peter: While they refused to stop preaching Christ, they ALSO expressed their recognition of the judgement of the authorities in that situation (Acts 4:19).

    In the very next chapter we read about the apostles being thrown into jail for obeying God. Obviously they were outraged by this injustice. They certainly held protests. They probably started planning how to overthrow the authorities who had so disrespected them. Nope. Acts 5:41 says they REJOICED that they were counted worthy to suffer in such a way and went on preaching the gospel.

    Your average person would “fight for their rights”. A doormat would just Eeyore their way through the situation and say “No surprise here. The government is terrible.” It takes a person who fully respects the virtue of godliness and understands the sovereignty of God to rejoice when they are persecuted for Christ’s sake.

    • Good point, worth making.

  • Wow…..very convicting and sobering, actually. I always do know that “despite who is president, Jesus is King” and I COUNT on that – but it certainly doesn’t make it easy to accept! But if I am to believe His Word is TRUTH, then I must understand that for everything, there is a plan and purpose; even in this election. Thanks for this post.

    • Much of truth is easier said than done. But it’s the doing not the saying that proves it’s true.

  • I believe this election may be a tool of God’s judgment on America, just as He judged Israel and Judah through the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities. At once I

    feel grief and joy at what’s happening in this country.

    • I think much of life is a mixture of God’s abundant blessing and just judgment. As bad as Americans believe their president is, he (or she?) is always one of the best leaders in the world compared to most others in various nations’ histories. And he for better or worse, at least he is elected… and can be impeached. That’s rare in the global political landscape of the last 6,000 years or so. I’d take the worst elected US President in history over the best dictator Africa has seen.

  • tovlogos

    Yes, and in view of “God’s Sovereignty,” (John 3:27) It makes sense that Obama would emerge
    in a world where the devil rules by proxy — as a lesson for us regarding our depraved state — apparently
    the story of Sodom was not enough. It’s our state of being that’s the problem.
    So, the only way to improve this life would be to harness the devil and throw him in hell, which only
    God can do. Otherwise there will be no improvement — God’s children glorifying Him is not an improvement,
    it’s a ongoing state of being.

    • Or he could be bound for 1000 years. 🙂

      • tovlogos

        Sure — So be it — that works.

  • Still Waters

    This verse is always good to remember when a politician whose policies you disagree with is elected leader: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1) In other words, you never know, God might change that leader’s mind if He sees fit to do so.