Barack Obama has been reelected as President of the United States. Are you happy with this outcome? No matter your political affiliation and no matter who you voted for, there is something important for every Christian to remember.
God’s reminder comes to us from Romans 13:1, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” There are three important phrases to emphasize in this passage.
1) “Every person.” Every person must submit to the government. There are no exceptions to this command. This does not mean we agree with everything the government does, but we must “submit to the governing authorities” nonetheless. Keep in mind this command was written to people under the corrupt, evil, and persecuting rule of the Romans. We need to submit to our government, which is not nearly as bad as Rome’s was.
2) “Established by God.” Even though some very evil and corrupt men have come into power in times past, this verse clearly says God establishes the all governing authorities (c.f. John 19:11). This certainly does not mean God accepts and stands behind the government’s decisions, Jesus sure didn’t during His time, but God has at least allowed these people to come into power. Therefore, whether we are happy about Obama’s reelection or not, we must recognize God has placed him into power and, as stated above, we must be in subjection to him.
3) “No authority except from God.” This is by far the most important phrase of this verse. No matter who is in charge, no matter what laws are passed, God is still in charge. None of the governing authorities would be in power at all if God did not allow them to be. Our Lord is the ultimate authority in the world. As such, this means God’s laws come first even above ones established by our government that may contradict God. Being in subjection to Obama does not mean we should set aside any of God’s commands, even if the President calls for us to so. God is the true and supreme authority above all others. In fact, God has even called for Christians to correct those in error, which would include governing authorities (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:1-5; etc). However, we need to be careful not to speak evil of a ruler (Acts 23:5), but to correct with love (Ephesians 4:15) and with a submissive and respectful attitude (Romans 13:1).
It’s easy to get emotionally attached to one candidate or another and become disheartened if another is chosen. However, let’s remember we still must stand in subjection to the President and all governing authorities because God establishes them. We are even called on to pray for such men (1 Timothy 2:2). Beyond all else though, let’s draw comfort from the fact that our God is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Ultimate Authority, the Supreme Ruler, and the Perfect President.