Who’s in Control…
August 4, 2016
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. –Romans 13:1-5
This year’s Presidential election is creating a lot of angst, not only here in the United States, but around the world. It is being talked about on the news and on social media. It is being discussed in the coffee houses and in casual conversation. And in all of these conversations, there seems to be more than a casual interest! Often there is deep emotion and passion that borders on fanaticism, intolerance and rage. People seem not just interested, but to be afraid.
But of what?
Well, I believe many of us are afraid of losing control… of losing the power and influence that we have become accustomed to in the current context. I’m not just speaking of the angry white man here, for this fear of losing control also applies to the many minority groups that have been able to advance their causes in recent years and are afraid of losing ground if the wrong person is elected. It applies to the shrinking middle class and to the oft-pampered millennial. Control is not just about economics and power in and of itself, but also about influence and direction… about having a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion. And all of these concerns have been influenced by the many dramatic events of the last several years… acts that have generated fear either intentionally or unintentionally. I don’t really need to name them do I? From the Aurora theater shooting to Ferguson to Dallas and on and on and on. All of this raises an important question.
Is anyone really in control?
My colleague, Mike Oldham, likes to tell a story about when his son was learning to drive (or more accurately Mike was learning to let his son drive!). Mike says that after about Mike’s third or fourth panic braking in the passenger seat … (You parents know what I’m talking about; It’s that invisible brake we stomp on when the teen-age driver (or spouse) runs up too quickly on the car in front of you!) … his son calmly said “Dad, you know that just because you are not in control of the car does not mean the car is not under control.”
Who then is in control of our government?
Is it really us after all?
Or does God still have a hand in it?
Even when we elect the wrong person?
Even when it seems like no one is in control, God is still there. And while that truth does not abdicate us from our responsibility to be wise and to make good choices, for me at least, it removes the fear about our fickle public making a bad choice. No matter which choice it may be.
Prayer: God, remind me today that you are still in control. Remind me that the world is bigger than my little section of it, bigger even than the politics of the United States, and that for all of its breadth, depth and width of our world, you oh God are still in control. Amen.
Reverend Dr. Steve Van Ostran