Rev. Jacob Ehrhard
The dust has begun to settle on Election Day 2016. Your preferred candidate may or may not have emerged victorious. You may be elated or depressed. You may not care at all. But regardless of your political leaning, if you’re a Christian you will certainly be praying these words: “Thy kingdom come.” The holy Christian Church throughout the world raises this petition on a daily basis. But what is meant by God’s kingdom?
“Answer: ‘Nothing other than what we learned in the Creed: God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the devil’s power. He sent Him to bring us to Himself and to govern us as a King of righteousness, life, and salvation against sin, death, and an evil conscience. For this reason He has also given His Holy Spirit, who is to bring these things home to us by His holy Word and to illumine and strengthen us in the faith by His power” (Large Catechism III.51).
Some people think that the kingdom of God comes with a political victory. Others may be certain that it’s the kingdom of the devil with a political loss. But the reality is that it’s neither. “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed,” says Jesus, “nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:20-21 ESV). God’s kingdom is not the result of elections, nor is it constrained by political parties or geographic borders. God’s kingdom is wherever God is active in His righteous reign, giving life and salvation. It doesn’t matter who’s king, or president, or congressman, or dictator here on earth.
On Tuesday, America elected the equivalent of a crust of bread. Bread is necessary for life, but it also perishes and fails to deliver eternal life. Good government is simply part of daily bread (for which we also pray!). But we should always remember that it and its officers are a temporal and perishable good.
God’s kingdom is something altogether different. “From this you see that we do not pray here for a crust of bread or a temporal, perishable good. Instead, we pray for an eternal inestimable treasure and everything that God Himself possesses. This is far too great for any human heart to think about desiring, if God had not Himself commanded us to pray for the same. But because He is God, He also claims the honor of giving much more and more abundantly than anyone can understand. He is like an eternal, unfailing fountain. The more it pours forth and overflows, the more it continues to give. God desires nothing more seriously from us than that we ask Him for much and great things” (Large Catechism III.55-56).
Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven, MO.