The only politician mentioned in the creeds of Christianity is the one responsible for executing its founder. Of Jesus we confess that he was crucified for us “under Pontius Pilate” (Nicene Creed) and “suffered under Pontius Pilate,” (Apostles’ Creed). That is the church’s political statement every Sunday.
And it gives us the wisdom we need as we prepare to vote. When Christians select their candidate this fall, we have a unique insight. We realize that behind the men and women who are running for office, is the God who’s mysteriously at work to bring about his will, even as he used Pilate to accomplish his saving will for us.
Part of that divine will is this: to bring our nation and world to a fiery, cataclysmic end and to usher in a radically new beginning. The world will itself experience a kind of final Good Friday and Easter, death and resurrection, destruction and recreation in Christ.
We step into the voting booth with one foot on the outside. We are Americans, to be sure, but we are much more. Our true citizenship is in another country, a heavenly one. We are citizens of the kingdom of God, over which the King of kings reigns supreme. Our allegiance is to him. Our time here is temporary. We are resident aliens in a land that will not remain forever.
Whether you think America is great now, or will be great again, one thing is for certain: America will cease to exist. But the kingdom of God will never end.
While we are here, we do our civic duty. We use the wisdom God gave us to select a candidate that we think will be best for our nation. Christians not only vote; some serve in political office. This is all well and good. Listen to the candidates, debate, cast your vote. But vote with one eye on eternity, one ear listening for the final trumpet, one hand ready to grasp the nail-scarred hand of the King of kings when he returns again.
There will come a day when “the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed,” (2 Peter 3:10). This particular spot on earth we call the United States will melt into Mexico, and Mexico into England, and England into Israel. Like so many pieces of butter thrown into a raging fire, all nations will melt together and be dissolved in flame. The oceans will hiss and steam and vanish. All creation as we know it will be reduced to nothing, as at the beginning.
And from this nothing, God will create a “new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells,” (3:13). The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat. A little boy will play by the hole of the cobra. No one shall be hurt or destroyed in this place (Isaiah 11:6-9). We shall live there with bodies that have been glorified to be like our Lord’s body. We shall feast, love, live, and enjoy our humanity to the fullest. This is where our citizenship lies. This is the kingdom we await.
But for now, we live here. We are “under Pontius Pilate” or whoever our political ruler might be. Things may go well for the church, or they may not. Like our Lord, we too may be crucified under a politician. In some parts of the world, it is happening even as we speak.
Whatever befalls the church in this world, we have a unique perspective. We know that the world is not gradually improving. It is getting worse. It’s on its way to a fiery grave. The world is dying; it must die. The true, unelected Ruler of this world—the Creator himself—has said so. And unlike politicians, he keeps his promises.
The ultimate future of the world was foretold on Easter. The man who “suffered under Pontius Pilate,” who was “crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate,” arose alive again from the dead over Pontius Pilate. In so doing, he told us the most important truth we need to know about politics, elections, parties, and nations: they will all eventually end up in the grave he vacated. They are temporary parts of a temporary world that will one day face permanent destruction.
Yet just as our Lord was resurrected, so shall his people be. He will bring us forth from our graves, alive again, gloriously refashioned as those who bear his immortal image. We shall live forever in the new heavens and new earth, our true and everlasting home.
That is the perspective we need as we step into the voting booth. All of this will slip away, will vanish. But Christ, and those who are his, will never pass away.