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Do Not Hope in Kings

Do Not Hope in Kings

Many of us are struggling to make sense of, and respond to, the current presidential election cycle. As Christian citizens, what should we say? How should we pray?

A short passage halfway through Luke’s Gospel may help us see what Jesus might say concerning this election, and every other. To be clear, Luke 13 was not written to help 21st-century Americans respond to presidential politics; the main point is to provide a window into Jesus’ compassionate heart and redemptive mission. Nevertheless, observing how Jesus related to governing authorities cannot help but profit our understanding of how we should act in the present moment.

Refuse to Fear

“At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus], ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you’” (Luke 13:31).

Herod, the ruler over Galilee, had already locked John the Baptist in prison and lopped off his head (Matt 14.3–12″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Matthew 14:3–12). Now he has heard about Jesus and apparently has a desire to kill him, possibly because he believed it was John back from the dead. Herod is powerful and paranoid (Matt 14.1–2″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Matthew 14:1–2), as well as selfish and erratic in his behavior. This is no idle threat.

And yet, this passage records no hint of fear on Jesus’ part. Jesus’ strongest emotions don’t even involve Herod, whom he seems to dismiss and quickly forget. Herod is actively seeking his life, but Jesus isn’t fazed.

He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’” (Luke 13.32–33″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Luke 13:32–33)

So much fear is swirling among Christians about the outcome of this election. How will it shape America’s security and standing in the world? How will it affect the freedoms of Christians? How will it affect the lives of unborn children and other vulnerable members of our society?

Concern is certainly justified. But there’s a difference between prayerful concern and hand-wringing panic. At the very least, Jesus’ response indicates that fear is not an appropriate response to this election, or any other looming political ordeal.