In The Image of God
Preparing for November 8
by Pastor Eli Thomas
I was born the year Jimmy Carter was elected president. I have seen 9 elections in the years since and I cannot recall a time when we approached November 8 with such fear or disgust. It is challenging as a pastor to walk that line between my personal views and thoughts about candidates and the recognition that my calling is a spiritual one, not a political one. As a result I often err on the side of caution, rarely engaging in political discourse. But as we approach the election deadline, an event that will be tumultuous at best, and more likely violent and nasty, I have a few thoughts to share as you get ready to mark your ballots.
Though there will be several candidates on the ballot and always the potential to write-in another name, things boil down to a race between two people. This year, our preferred party candidate (whether Republican or Democrat) appears to inspire a general fatalism rather than enthusiasm. We are not exactly excited by a particular candidate but are terrified of the other option. Democrats blast Donald Trump as racist, mysogynistic, and mean while Republicans attack Hillary Clinton for being an untrustworthy elitist who belongs in jail rather than the White House. Regardless, on November 9 we are going to wake up to a new president, and I want to let you in on a secret. As you get ready to mark you ballots remember this- both candidates are created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 recounts the creation of humanity saying, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” At the beginning, when God created He showed His power over all things by simply speaking and causing land to appear, day to separate from night, and animals and plants to cover the earth. His WORD carried undeniable power. But when it came time for Him to create humanity, He took another approach. One can command that clay be shaped and so exercise absolute authority over the creation of a pot or a vase, but it is entirely different to sit at the wheel, take the clay in hand, and to pour one’s loving heart into the shaping. God took in His own hands the dirt of the earth and he shaped with love and care the man named Adam, breathing into his body the very Spirit of God. And so that Spirit might be shared with the woman, that unity between man and woman might exist, He did not create a new creature from the earth, but instead made woman from man, not that she might be man’s servant but so that she might share the exact same image of God. “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:22). What does this mean? It means that from the very beginning each and every man, and each and every woman, bears the image of God. When we look at the candidates for president, we cannot look at them with contempt and disgust because to despise them is to despise the God whose image they carry. To hate them is to hate ourselves for we all share the same spirit of life.
I was reading Facebook posts this morning and I came across one that caused an involuntary chuckle because it said simply “I am deeply afraid that come Wednesday morning, someone is going to win this election.” I laughed and moved on but I couldn’t shake the import of that statement. On Wednesday morning we will have a new president elect. And no matter who wins the White House, there is going to be the temptation to say “that is not my president, I didn’t vote for him, I didn’t vote for her, they do not deserve my respect or my support.” But Paul says in Romans 13:1 “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.” These are tough words because they force us to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will exercise governing authority that is derived from God, and for us to reject their authority is to reject God’s authority over our lives. I fear for many this is going to be a very tough, that we are going to struggle greatly with the results of tomorrow’s election. My prayer though is that rather than seeing the next 4 years as a defeat, we will see it as an opportunity to be the people of God. Our salvation does not come from the ballot box, we do not find hope in powers and principalities but in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And because of his grace, I pray that we all find the strength and the courage to follow Paul’s words in 1 Timothy:
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
It is going to be tempting to see the next president as the enemy and he/she may very well act in ways that would make them just that. But the question we should ask ourselves is “what would Jesus do?” Would he rail against them? Curse them? Threaten them? Seek to depose them? Or would he turn to his Father in heaven and pray? No matter what happens in tomorrow’s election, I can be sure of one thing, I will lift up our next president as I do the current one, in prayer to God in heaven, that they may be good stewards of the authority bestowed upon them, and that they may govern with wisdom and integrity. I pray that you will do the same.