In the chaos of the 2020 election I, like many other Evangelicals, have championed the phrase, “Jesus is still King”. This may have left some Christians and non -Christians wondering what that phrase means. In short the phrase is simply a confession of the lordship and sovereignty of Jesus Christ over all things. It affirms that Jesus is the only ruler who can bring lasting peace, unity, and hope to our country and that neither Trump nor Biden can dethrone Jesus as that ruler. It is solid, biblical truth that is meant to show God and His everlasting Kingdom as the final hope of those who confess it.
With this all said I find it necessary to further define the phrase by placing it within the context of a holistic Christian worldview. I want to provide some principles that should be foundational for anyone who uses the phrase and I want to argue that if you are choosing to use this phrase, then you should include these ideas in your confession. Doing so will help to prevent any confusion that could come from oversimplifying the phrase “Jesus is Still King” in the context of this election. One-liners and simple answer can be seen as dismissive and cheap, even if they convey glorious truths. Hurting people or people who simply do not understand the theological complexities may not be comforted as much as one may hope by this phrase. Sometimes we need to add context to our phrases to love our neighbor better. So if you say “Jesus is still King” in the wake of this election, I ask you to consider sharing these view along with the phrase.
Jesus is Still King: Trust that He is Sovereign and Wise
As a Christian I believe that God is sovereign which means that He is outside of and ruling over all time, and that has ordained everything that happens throughout all of time with absolute and perfect wisdom, love, kindness, justice, and power. I also believe that one day God will exercise final justice with perfect discernment and wisdom when Jesus returns to restore all of creation. In light of these truths, I believe that all Christians should find rest in the fact that Gods holds the entirety of creation in the palm of His hands and that nothing is hidden from Him that will evade His final judgement.
This is very important to remember in a fallen world that is marred by sin. Gods sovereignty does not mean that he is responsible for Sin, but instead that in His vast wisdom He has a plan and purpose for all things (including the sins of mankind) to work according to His perfect will. (Romans 8:28). So if in life we see corruption, injustice, abuse, and violence we can trust that God’s plans and purposes will still come to pass. We can also trust that God cares about these and that he will bring all sinners to face justice. This is great and terrifying news because we are all sinners. But that is where the Gospel comes in.
Jesus, who was God incarnate, lived a sinless life and he died a criminal’s death on the cross for us. Jesus took on the punishment of sin and the wrath of God against sin for all who trust in Him. Then He rose to life with all power and authority over the Earth, and He told His followers to preach the Gospel: that anyone can find forgiveness of sin by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and that one day He will return to judge the world to judge the living and the dead and to make all things new.
So, when we see the world seem to fall apart due to politics, Christians should affirm that “Jesus is Still King” and that He will bring justice to everyone for everything that they have done. Ultimately this means we should not weep like those who have no hope because at the end of the day the heart of our future president is under the control of God who can do whatever He wants with him or any other elected leader. (Proverbs 21:1 ESV).
1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;Proverbs 21:1 ESV
he turns it wherever he will.
Jesus is Still King: Hope in the End, Still Live in the Now
In the end times, Jesus will bring his Kingdom to full fruition but in the meantime Christians are still called to preach the Gospel, act justly, and to shepherd their resources to advance God’s Kingdom. That means today they should pursue biblical love and justice in their life and for their neighbor in order to show them the love of God. My fellow Christians, we can not try to escape our responsibilities today by saying, “Who cares? Jesus will deal with it all in the end anyways!”. Instead, we should seek to serve non-believers and display the kingdom of God to them all while unapologetically preaching the Gospel.
The Christian should remember that we are exiles in this world that are called to live here to the best of our ability, knowing that this world is not our home. So as we say “Jesus is still King”, we should advocate for political reforms that reflect biblical values, vote for godly leaders, and we should serve our communities because we are called to steward this world to the best of our ability even though the world is surely falling apart. As a Christians faith is tested through suffering in these final days, they should look to 1 Peter 1: 3-7 for encouragement.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 1: 3-7
Jesus is Still King: You can still Lament
If you are reading this, God knows every feeling you have ever felt. He knows every feeling that everyone has ever felt. Yes, Jesus Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords with an eternal rule, knows how you feel all the time so there is no need to hide your emotions from Him. He can handle your fear, depression, and anxiety. You do not need to lie to Him, and you should not lie to Him. God is trustworthy, so all should turn to Him. I write this as an encouragement to the Christian and as a challenge to the non-believer. God loves you and wants to know you. Pray to Him, especially if you feel broken.
When we feel broken down, defeated, or depressed, we should pray to God in the form of Lament. Lament is how we come to God when we feel broken. Lament is viewed by some as a form of unbiblical complaining or groveling, but that is simply not the case. Lament is instead crying out to God, and it is not complaining out of a place of distrust in God, but it is instead bringing your complaint to God in honesty. It can be emotionally messy and it is necessary for the well being of a Christian. To paraphrase Chris Green from The Bridge Church: Lament is our way of crying out to God when we are in need, similar to how a child cries out to their parents because they trust that their parents have the ability to do something about their needs. (Para. Chris Green, April 19, 2020). Jesus reigns, bring your need to Him!
We will all most likely find something to Lament in this election. Maybe your friend voted for someone you consider the enemy. Maybe you think the votes were miscounted and you suspect foul play. Maybe you fear protest and retaliation movements that could put your life and livelihood at risk. Maybe you are simply discouraged by the disunity and division politics brings. I understand all of these points, and believe me when I tell you I am exhausted by all of this. I am not here to tell you whether or not your fears are valid because honestly I am not smart enough to. But I can lovingly give you a shoulder to cry on and remind you “Jesus is Still King” as we discuss your fears and concerns.
Here’s the sermon that Chris Green preached on Psalm 77 (which is a Psalm of Lament)
Jesus is Still King: Fear God, Honor the Emperor
When we understand that God is in sovereign control and that he is guiding us and lovingly caring for us as we actively live in this world, we are able to not give into fear of any Trump or Biden presidency. But how is the Christian called to relate to the government? The Bible tells us that we are called to submit to our governing authorities and the instructions are not naïve and overly-simple. Indeed they have challenged the Church greatly throughout history.
There are many reasons to dislike many of the world politicians but we are still called to pray for them and to obey them unless obedience to them leads us into sin. This was the case with Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he opposed Hitler and the Nazi Party while living in Nazi Germany. However, for the most part we are called to honor even the worst of governments because they provide law and order.
I want to point my readers to the words Jesus when he was asked if the Jewish people should pay tribute coins to Caesar. Jesus told the Jews who asked him the question this, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). The immediate implications of this amazed those who heard Him say it. Jesus said to pay taxes to the government because the coinage was from the government. Paying the government’s tribute coin was part of obeying the government and local authorities.
Jesus was not the type of messiah that sought to overthrow the Romans by blood and conquest but by instead radically transforming the hearts of people to pursue righteousness. He told his follows that the coin was the governments, but that they are Gods. Caesars image is on the coin, so give it to Caesar, but you are made in Gods image, so give yourself fully to God. Jesus’s followers were called to fear God first, and then to honor the emperor.
So Jesus allows for taxes to be paid to a Caesar who viewed himself as a God and who persecuted his own people. The Roman government had been persecuting Israel and they would persecute Jesus’s followers for hundreds of years, but Jesus still ordained the general support of the government because Jesus knew that the world needs courts, justice, and law on Earth which God ordained governments to provide.
Those who are in charge of establishing law and order may simply abuse their subjects, but God will hold them accountable. This is easier to understand when you know that God the Father will hold every person accountable for every decision that they make in the final judgment. This is true for the commoner, the police officer, the local government official, and earthly kings. Because of this we can fear God as more powerful than the government we respectfully are called to live under. I say “Jesus is still King” as I submit to my local authorities and pay taxes to them regardless of whether I voted for them.
Christians should not be afraid of calling out the government’s sins and addressing it verbally but we need to trust in the plan of God and not threaten rebellion when we do not get our way. Let’s be guided by Peter and Paul’s words in these scriptures: 1 Peter 2: 13-17, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, and if you want further study, look to Romans 13.
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,[b] whether it be to the emperor[c] as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants[d] of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.1 Peter 2:13-17
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.1 Timothy 2:1-2
Jesus is Still King: Love your Neighbor
Given the fact that this ideal is touched on throughout the other sections, I want to focus this section specifically on showing love to those in your community who are upset by this election. After such a close election, your neighbor is going to probably be upset for some reason or another. They may lash out in fear and say things they don’t mean. They also may cheer too much and show idolatry to the political process and then be upset when the politicians they love can not deliver them a lasting pace. They may just ask for this all to go away. When people are hurt, the last thing they need is to be ignored. Although some people need time to process things, some people need a hug and a cup of coffee. Some people may not know how they feel about how they voted, and they may need grace and space to process.
If you are a Christian, I challenge you to love your neighbor, especially your neighbor who disagrees with you. If the Samaritan could love the Jew, then Republicans can love Democrats and vice versa. We can love one another. If another Christian sins against you at this time and if they ask for forgiveness, be quick to do so. We are called to bear one’s burdens. We are called to lead with truth and love, which again reminds me to warn against using “Jesus is still King” as an emotionally distant one-liner. Simply put, should do all we can to love our neighbor well as well as tell them the truth that “Jesus is still King”.
Let’s look to 1 Peter 3:8-17 for guidance on how to act with those outside the church and Colossians 3:12-17 for guidance on how to love those inside the church.
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For
10 “Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.1 Peter 3:8-17
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:12-17
Jesus is Still King: Speak in Wisdom
Because Jesus is still King all Christians still have the same priority which is spreading the Gospels to the nations. I want to finish the main points of this post with this point that as exiles, Christians have a limited amount of opportunities to advance God’s Kingdom that should not be constantly wasted on politics. I am not saying you can not discuss politics but instead I want to encourage the believer to prioritize discussing things that will advance God’s Kingdom.
We all must pick the right “hills to die on”. If a non-religious conversation with a friend will end that friendship and if that will prevent me from sharing the gospel with that person in the future then the conversation probably is not worth it. People will always find a way to act foolish, but it is not our job to always answer them. Let me point you to Proverbs 26: 4-5:
Answer not a fool according to his folly,Proverbs 26:4-5
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
These verses seem to contradict but it’s actually an old Hebrew type of parallelism. The Bible tells us to use discernment and to ask for wisdom. Sometimes it’s best to ignore a fool, and sometimes it’s best to rebuke a fool. We all need discernment and wisdom to know when a conversation truly matters. Christian I implore you to pray for wisdom as James tells us to do in James 1:5-8 and to remember God is not threatened by what people say on the internet or in person. Christians should seek to honor his name and challenge those that dishonor it, but we must realize that sometimes it is best to let God deal with a fool. The Christian can say “Jesus is still King” and trust that it is not always their job to emotionally engage with every fool that barks at them.
If you are a Christian you should now understand that God sees and has plans for all things, and that nothing in all of history will slip through the cracks and go unnoticed. God is well aware of every single vote that was cast and counted. Since the beginning of time He has had a perfect plan for this election and we can trust that the results did not surprise Him. We can also be assured that He sees all the people attempting to do wrong on both sides of the election. Rest assured, God knows all the lies, deceptions, trickery, and fake news that people will spread.
With all this said, I hope what I have written above has created clarity for those who have chosen to read this piece. I hope it has conveyed this message: truth needs to be paired with love. I pray that it glorifies God, and I hope that it helps my reader love their neighbor better knowing they are under the careful watch of God. I pray that they engage one another with more than one liners and that they take time to really love one another. As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Also, if you know me personally and you are emotionally in need of someone to talk to, then please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I hope my readers find peace in the reminders above and that they show love to one another. I pray my readers are also able to lament when they need to and that they are able to find hope in the true confession that: Jesus is still King!
Grace and Peace