Living Columns & Blogs

What can God teach us about government?

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” 1 John (2:18).

So is President Donald Trump the Antichrist?

No. Let’s all just all take a couple deep breaths and calm down.

Trump isn’t the Antichrist — and neither was President Barack Obama, for that matter.

Some Christians do believe there will be an end times figure who will be called the Antichrist, but there are also many of us who do not believe that. But that isn’t my point.

My point is that no matter what you believe about the Antichrist, Trump isn’t it.

The United States (and maybe all of Western civilization, maybe even the whole world) is in a time of upheaval. A lot has changed in the past few decades, and the speed of change is just getting faster. Technology is only the most obvious manifestation of changes that are happening to our core principals, beliefs and assumptions. It feels like everything is up for grabs, and nothing can be trusted. And we all want someone to fix it. To get control of it — or at the very least, lead us — in how to surf this wave of change, rather than getting pummeled by the waves, over and over again.

And I think that is part of what led some of us to vote for a young, inexperienced African-American senator to be president.

And part of what led some of us to vote for an inexperienced billionaire to be president.

My goal isn’t to argue the relative merits of Obama or Trump, but rather I think we are all feeling pretty fearful about today, and even more so about what tomorrow will hold.

And God doesn’t want that for us. God or Allah or whatever name you use for your higher power doesn’t want humanity living in fear about the future.

I think God also wants us to learn from these times to be skeptical of what human institutions and human leaders can do. Governments are like churches: They can be a swirling, inefficient mess of egos, grudges, pettiness and, well, stupidity because they are made up of people who have egos, can hold grudges, can be petty and even stupid (and I’m speaking from experience here, about my own behavior).

Yes, I think God wants us to be skeptical of what a government can get done, and not to look to these institutions for all the answers. And yet I also think God wants us to learn from these times that we can expect some answers from government. Government is still very important. It can pull together the resources of the whole community to help many in ways that would be impossible without it.

And so, because government is important, we need to take our choice of leaders very seriously. Elections are generally not the time for a desperate “Hail Mary pass,” for an inexperienced candidate whom we hope will make “magic” happen. We need to not let our fear dictate our vote.

But still further, I think God wants us to learn from these times to be humble. Many of us are feeling similar fears, but coming to different conclusions about what needs to be done — especially about what leaders our government needs.

But I truly believe most of us want most of the same things: Whatever is best for our nation.

And so we should hold our personal political opinions with humility, and respect those who came to other conclusions. None of us are 100 percent positive about what is best for our nation. And that includes graciously allowing people to change their minds, to react with humility when someone admits their vote was a mistake and to admire their honesty and humility in admitting that as we try together to search for the best path forward.

But most of all, I believe God doesn’t want us to live in fear of the future.

There is an old Christian hymn I just learned recently called, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” The chorus is, “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand ...”

That’s pretty good advice in these unsettled times.

Craig Rose is the pastor at Howard United Methodist Church.