One Sunday not too long ago I preached on Daniel 4, where Nebuchadnezzar discovers the hard way that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (v. 17). I serve a wonderful, God-loving congregation of mostly conservative Republicans. A couple weeks earlier, I had delighted my people by informing them that I would not make a very good Democrat, because I don’t trust big government. Their delight was short-lived, however, because I immediately said that I also wouldn’t make a very good Republican, because I don’t trust big business. Then, I really got ‘em thinking when I added that I probably don’t make a very good pastor—at least not according to current American evangelical criteria for pastoral success—because I don’t trust big institutional churches.
It was just a few weeks later, during the Daniel 4 sermon, that I finally showed my hand politically. I happened to mention that I am not a fan of Barack Obama. Most were probably somewhat relieved to hear that Pastor Joe is not the liberal they thought he was. But I suspect the warm fuzzies didn’t last very long. For I proceeded to tell the congregation a marvelous story—the kind of story that can help us all to rise above the pitiful mire of partisan politics to share King Nebuchadnezzar’s perspective on God’s sovereign control over the rulers of the world.
I am involved with World Impact’s Urban Ministry Institute in Los Angeles. I’m on their board of directors and I teach a course for the Institute once in awhile. At a board meeting one month, Bob Drummond, who served many years as the principal of LA Christian School, related to us an interaction he had had years ago with some parents in this inner-city school.
It was presidential election day in November 1992. Two Latino ladies from the neighborhood arrived to pick up their kids, proudly wearing their red-white-&-blue “I Voted” stickers on their lapels. It seems that these women had just become American citizens, and this was their first opportunity to participate in the political process. The principal noticed the stickers and warmly encouraged the ladies. Then one of them enthusiastically remarked, “Yes, Mr. Drummond, we voted for God’s candidate, Bill Clinton.”
Now Bob Drummond was decidedly not a Clinton fan. But Bob is a man of tack and diplomacy. So he gently inquired of the ladies, “Why do you feel that Bill Clinton is God’s candidate?”
The ladies replied, “Oh, Mr. Drummond, Bill Clinton is soft on the borders, and if we had not been able to get across the border, we would never have had the opportunity to come to America and hear about Jesus.”
Ain’t it funny how things look a little different from the other side of the tracks?
A passage from the book of Acts sums it up well: “From one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).
Apparently Nebuchadnezzar got it right. God truly is “sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” In His wisdom. For His eternal purposes. Think about that the next time your (wo)man wins—or loses—in Washington.