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I’m not even sure how to write what I believe about what happened yesterday at the Capitol. Why? It’s not that I’m afraid. It’s that I think I’m unable. At least somewhat. Yes, from an emotional standpoint, and from an ability standpoint, I don’t know if I can adequately convey what I think the New Testament teaches God’s people to do in times like we’re in.
But I’ll give it a shot. With the risk of misinterpretation always looming before me, and the fact of my own imperfection always glaring at me, it is still worth it to help our flock and readers make scriptural sense of the chaos that’s been cooking in our culture for some time.
Let’s be clear—God established government to protect those who do good and punish those who do evil (Rom. 13; 1 Peter 2:13-14). This is not a red, blue, or green concept; it’s not an elephant’s or donkey’s idea. It is a biblical principle. It was true in Paul’s day, and it remains true in our day.
Thus, when no law is violating God’s law, it is wrong under God’s directive and rebellious against God’s design to resist in ways that are outside of the law. To be sure, I have held this position regardless of skin tone or political party. I believe the earlier violent protests of 2020 in various cities were wrong, and I believe the violent protest at the Capitol yesterday was wrong. Disobedient. Sinful. Shameful. Hypocritical.
Here’s a deeper, riskier look into my chest cavity. Do I think there are election problems in general, not just most recently, but at several points in history? Yes. Do I hold to conservative values and wish there wasn’t this lunging towards civil, sexual, financial, and societal irresponsibility? For sure. Do I think there has been injustice on many fronts, especially to people of darker color? No doubt. Do I think there has been injustice to unborn children—abortion— that is an abomination to God and an unspeakable blight upon our country? Without question. Do I think we, God’s people, should do all we can to promote biblical values and scriptural principles in our nation? Most assuredly.
But responses to being wronged, whatever the wrong may be and wherever/whenever the wrong may occur, can’t also be unjust and wrong as well. They, instead, must be rooted in one central attitude; they must be grounded in a single mindset: We’re willing to wait. And while we wait, we trust. We wait for God, and we trust in God. This is the undeniable response that is most needed from God’s people, and it is one rooted in a theological directive, not a political dilemma.
You may not initially like this answer. But it is the thread of the New Testament. (1 Cor. 1:7; James 5:7-11; Phil. 3:20; Acts 1:6-11; Titus 2:13; 1 Thess. 1:10; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:12; Jude 21). The primary exhortation to the saints in the first century was not to revolt or resist. It was to wait. And by “waiting,” I don’t mean passiveness. And I don’t mean we don’t work for the just cause of good. I simply mean we are patient as we work, and willing to realize there will be times when our work doesn’t “work.” What then? We wait. And we wait with a kind of patience that knows God is in ultimate control, works all things together for his consummate glory and our ultimate good, and is sending perfect justice soon in the return of his Son, Jesus Christ. That’s who we’re waiting for!
It shouldn’t surprise us that waiting and trusting is the response of choice for the followers of Jesus. We are pilgrims and exiles (1 Peter 2:11); we are merely passing through (1 Peter 1:17). We are looking for a better city, one whose make and builder is God (Heb. 11:10, 16). This is not our home (Phil 3:20).
So why act like it is? Yes, we may enjoy our time here; but make no mistake—we are mainly called to endure our time here. Joyful endurance is the call and need of the hour for the Church (Heb. 10:36; James 1:12; Heb. 12:1-3). Yet, it seems like the one thing we find hardest to do. Perhaps we have forgotten the way of our Master?
Waiting and trusting is exactly what Jesus modeled for us in his journey to the cross. He was wrongly tried, judged, and killed. But all along the Via Delarosa Jesus trusted his Father (1 Peter 2:23). He waited. Endured. In the end, God vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead, proving him to be our only Savior and Redeemer (Acts 2:24). It’s him we are to emulate, which is why Peter says we are to follow “in his steps” when things of like nature happen to us (1 Peter 2:21; 4:19).
Too many times, though, many copy the impatient. Those who won’t endure. The ones who think an election is our hope. People who consider a man or woman to be their messiah. Those who consider the legal route a never-ending loop till you get your way. However, when none of those things prove sufficient, and all you were hoping for is dashed on the rocks of change, don’t be surprised that chaotic revolt and cultural rebellion is just around the corner. Why? Because that’s what happens when people wait for and trust in the wrong person or thing (James 4:1-2).
I tend to think waiting is essentially about how you react when things don’t go the way you thought they would or should. That’s why waiting is such a hard thing to do. It calls for loads of perspective and maturity; it takes a ton of willingness to see what’s not immediate. And most Americans and too many Christians lack the discipline of long-distance eyes.
No one is immune from the experience of things not going the way you thought they would or should, especially Christians. When that occurs, God’s people cannot suddenly think we’re exempt from—out from under—the God-ordained government. Yesterday’s actions by those who illegally invaded the Capitol, just like the actions of those who looted and burned blocks of cities last summer, is indicative, not of health and maturity, but just the opposite— selfish immaturity and sinful sickness. Lawlessness is a sign of a lack of life, not the fullness of it.
This is one of the more spiritually and theologically emotional aspects of this scenario for me. I suspect (emphasis on suspect) many of those involved yesterday would call themselves Christians. Yet, the kind of response we witnessed yesterday from those who didn’t get their way in the last election is so antithetical to what Christ actually called us to do when things don’t go as preferred. As a result, my heart was/is heavy as I watch(ed) the name of Christ being misunderstood, scorned, and mocked by many unbelievers as they saw so-called Christians behaving no differently than themselves. It’s like we’re watching James 4:1-4 being fleshed out in real life. Sad!
Waiting is such a different response. It highlights our dependance upon God, and witnesses to the world that we trust a higher authority ultimately even while we are willing to obey a lower one temporarily (1 Peter 2:17-17). It displays the spirit of meekness blended with the strength of conviction. It is the one response that blows upon the flame of our testimony with a wind that makes it shine brighter. But when you mix politics with your faith in a way that forces the latter to serve the former, you will have your testimony extinguished by the gusts of expedient temper-tantrums from people who think waiting is wimpy.
It’s not. It’s actually mighty. So mighty that the one who waits on the Lord will one day fly like an eagle. Run and not grow tired. Walk without fainting (Is. 40:31). I’ll take waiting every day.
No doubt more can be said about waiting. Lots more! We could unpack a host of applications that would be very helpful. Perhaps consider doing this with your children, in your family, among your friends. Talk about how to lawfully work to address what’s biblically wrong in our culture without breaking the very law we say we’re upholding; how to be proactive, productive, and patient at the same time. As you do, don’t lose sight of the foundational attitude the Bible calls us to embrace: waiting and trusting. Enduring. This is the earmark of genuine believers (Matt. 24:13).
And pray. It is our first and best action. So pray for our nation and her leaders, especially that their leadership would be the kind that would lead towards a peaceful existence (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Thankfully, many of our civic leaders were trying to do exactly this yesterday, not only during the breakout of unlawful activity, but also afterward in various ways in person, with their voice, and in print. Perhaps we will see more today from our elected and appointed officials, including President Trump. I pray we will.
Whether we do or don’t, hear this clarion call of one pastor: keep your eyes and hopes above and beyond mere men and women; higher than political aspirations and platforms. Wait for and trust in God. His Word is sure, his grace is enough, his presence is real, his church is unstoppable, and his Son is coming. And till he comes, we will wait, longingly and lawfully, patiently and productively, as citizens of another kingdom—God’s. It may not be our only response, but it is our most worthy one.
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