Every election season, I’m amused by the strange side conversations that result as America chooses from our menu of presidential candidates. In the 2008 campaign between Obama and McCain, everyone fell in love with “Joe the Plumber, ” a random guy who asked a question at a campaign rally. In 2012, the idea of Main Street vs. Wall Street became an economic rallying cry. This year, it was #NastyWoman and taco trucks at every street corner.
In all the seriousness that comes from these campaigns, we’re always looking for the simple sound bites or lighthearted distractions to carry us from the ugly national debate. But there was another saying that kept coming up in this year’s election, particularly among Christians.
“God is still on his throne.”
With every ugly turn of the campaign, you’d see the phrase all over social media. I’m a fan of God being on his throne. You’ll never hear me arguing against his sovereignty or the importance of recognizing it. But the saying came up so much this year that it seemed disingenuous. Many Christians flippantly threw it out there when things got too heavy or the concerns got to complex. Others used it dismissively.
But for all its implications, it’s important to know what God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean for the Church as we move forward.
1. It doesn’t mean the conversation is over.
I’ve often heard Christians use this saying to end the conversation, rather than enrich it. Instead of saying it to offer genuine comfort or perspective, they use it as the ultimate trump card to discount others’ objections and concerns.
Whether you voted for Donald Trump or not, there are real, legitimate concerns that have risen from both the campaign season and the election itself. The sovereignty of God is a powerful, fundamental principle of our faith. But we should never use it as a weapon to shut others up when they voice questions or objections.
Regardless of your political position, never throw out spiritual sayings to end a conversation with someone who is concerned about our future. Ask questions. Empathize. Be willing to admit you don’t have all the answers. Life is complex so resist the urge to over simplify or trivialize real issues when the Bible offers deep and meaningful insight.
2. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility.
God’s sovereignty doesn’t negate our calling as Christians to stand for justice, speak truth in love, and make the Gospel known around us. Whether you realize it or not, minorities across the country are honestly concerned about their safety and well-being as a result of this election. Others are fearful for the future. Google searches about the end of the world spiked on election night. We can’t ignore, discount, or dismiss this.
If we respond with a simple, “God is still on his throne,” but stay silent in the face of injustice, what message do we send about him?
Where white nationalism rears its ugly head, we must speak out. Where our Muslim neighbors are slandered or threatened, we’ve got to protect and defend them as people created in God’s image. Where the political rhetoric gets out of hand, we should be the voice of reason and reconciliation.
“God is on his throne” isn’t an excuse to do nothing. It’s a rallying cry to get involved.
3. It doesn’t mean everything will be just fine.
The promise of God’s presence on his throne has never meant that we won’t experience disaster or tragedy. Remember, God was still on his throne during the Holocaust. He was also on his throne during 9/11. He’s on his throne when children die in infancy. He is on his throne when murderers go free and justice goes neglected. His sovereignty has never been spiritual insurance against pain or sorrow.
God doesn’t promise an easy life but he does promise his presence, even when things go wrong. The fact God sits on his throne means his will always prevails, but we still live in a broken world. If we choose to believe he only desires our happiness and comfort, we set ourselves up for a crisis of faith. When reminding others that God is still sovereign, understand and be clear about what that really means.
In the coming months and years, our nation will continue wrestling with important social issues that go beyond the political realm. It’s critical that we reflect God’s grace, mercy, and restoration as we engage with them. We should always remember what his sovereignty means, and equally what it doesn’t.
At the end of the day, we serve a God who never gives up and never lets go. Not a single event in human history has happened outside his grasp. It’s important we express this truth with humility and authenticity, especially outside our Christian circles.