While the pundits speculate about how the presidents-elect’s agenda will unfold during the first 100 days of his or her presidency, a good number of American will sulk about, muttering “That’s not my president.” Those who sob through their candidate’s concession speech often struggle to come to terms with the election results. To comfort their souls and to stick to the system that betrayed them on election night, the members of the losing party will spend the next four years telling anyone who will listen, “That’s not my President.”
Admittedly, the phrase does not always represent a denial of reality. At times, defeated voters on both sides of the political spectrum toss out the phrase to remind their listeners that they disagree with the President. When asked why President Bush, Obama, Reagan, or Kennedy did this or that, those who did not vote for these men can conveniently and rightfully distance themselves from the discussion, reminding the room that those men were not their presidential candidate of choice. That’s not my president, agenda, or goal for America.
But often the phrase contains a more sinister meaning. The speaker uses the expression to imply a level of disrespect and defiance. Instead of honoring, supporting, and praying for the man or woman who has been elected to the Presidential office, the defeated voter seeks to create a safe space from which she can attack, insult, and belittle the President, using whatever means are necessary: conspiracy theories, lies, insults, and riots. That’s not my President often equals “I am free to rebel and to destroy.” Such thinking proves detrimental to society. It also proves to be antithetical to the Scriptures.
Christians should avoid the rebellious use of the phrase “That’s not my President” and confess, “That’s my President.” The statement is not inherently political. Nor is it about party affiliations or about one’s understanding of policy. Rather, that phrase is a theological confession of God’s loving sovereignty.
In Daniel 2:21 God reminds us that, “he removes kings and sets up kings.” Or as 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.” When Christians refuse to honor and respect the President, they act as if God does not reign. They imply that someone snuck into the White House while God was caring for orphans in Africa. But that is not the God of the Bible. He reigns over all human affairs and every American election cycle. His power knows no limits and cannot be out maneuvered, cheated, or overwhelmed. God’s purpose always come to be. Though we may not like the November outcome, we can be confident that the outcome of the last election was God intended outcome. “The Lord of Hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand (Isa 14:24).” John Neuahas rightly noted,
Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final assertion Christians make about all of reality, including politics.
Moreover, we should be confident that the outcome of the last election is consistent with God’s goodness. Psalm 136:1 reminds us to “Give thank to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” God’s faithful love was not on the last ballot. All events represent God’s exercise of his sovereign power for the good of his people. Romans 8:28 famously states “all things work together for good” for those who love God. That includes all things political. Even the political realities that get under our skin still further God’s good plans for his church and for you. Consequently as Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes clear:
Christians should never get excited about the state. They should never get excited about politics. They are to be interested; they are to vote; they must be intelligent and informed; but they should never get excited about one political party or the other…to they extent that they do, the come under the condemnation of the Scriptures.
What is God Doing?
In the cosmic sense, I do not know why candidate A prevails over that candidate B. I cannot detail what God is doing; no one can. Even historical investigation faces limits when seeking to discern the purposes of the heavenly Father. God has declared, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD (Is 55:8).” Be suspicious of those who proclaim that candidate A is a symbol of divine blessing and that candidate B is a symbol of judgement. God’s world is far more complex than that. Philistia, Babylon, and Assyria all had good runs at Israel’s political expense. But God was not with the pagan countries. Today’s win or loss is not the end of the story.
Though we do not know what God is doing in the short term, we do know who is. He is the good and sovereign Lord of the universe who works all things together for our good. We can say, “That’s my President” giving respect to whom respect is do and praying for good to come from the administration currently in possession of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1 Tim 2:2). The failure to do reveals that we have betrayed our Lord and equated the kingdom of God with a political party.
Of course, we can disagree with any President’s agenda. The presence in office does not prove the righteousness of their causes or policies. Might does not make right. We have the freedom in Christ to vote for candidates that will overturn the current administration’s policy wins and the next.
Lastly, the church must advocate for truth and justice, sharing the gospel with rulers as Paul did and rebuking kings who openly defy the direct commands of Scripture as John the Baptist did.
But even in those moments of evangelism and rebuke, the Christian must still confess, “That’s my President.” God’s goodness cannot be thwarted by crooked senators or deceptive Presidents. Even when its not ok; it is ok. God reigns.
All Christians should be able to say, “That’s My President.” What say you?