Why Waiting is a Worthy Response, and Why Storming the Capitol was Not

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I’m not even sure how to write what I believe about what happened yesterday at the Capitol. Why? It’s not that I’m afraid. It’s that I think I’m unable. At least somewhat. Yes, from an emotional standpoint, and from an ability standpoint, I don’t know if I can adequately convey what I think the New Testament teaches God’s people to do in times like we’re in.

But I’ll give it a shot. With the risk of misinterpretation always looming before me, and the fact of my own imperfection always glaring at me, it is still worth it to help our flock and readers make scriptural sense of the chaos that’s been cooking in our culture for some time.

Let’s be clear—God established government to protect those who do good and punish those who do evil (Rom. 13; 1 Peter 2:13-14). This is not a red, blue, or green concept; it’s not an elephant’s or donkey’s idea. It is a biblical principle. It was true in Paul’s day, and it remains true in our day.

Thus, when no law is violating God’s law, it is wrong under God’s directive and rebellious against God’s design to resist in ways that are outside of the law. To be sure, I have held this position regardless of skin tone or political party. I believe the earlier violent protests of 2020 in various cities were wrong, and I believe the violent protest at the Capitol yesterday was wrong. Disobedient. Sinful. Shameful. Hypocritical.

Here’s a deeper, riskier look into my chest cavity. Do I think there are election problems in general, not just most recently, but at several points in history? Yes. Do I hold to conservative values and wish there wasn’t this lunging towards civil, sexual, financial, and societal irresponsibility? For sure. Do I think there has been injustice on many fronts, especially to people of darker color? No doubt. Do I think there has been injustice to unborn children—abortion— that is an abomination to God and an unspeakable blight upon our country? Without question. Do I think we, God’s people, should do all we can to promote biblical values and scriptural principles in our nation? Most assuredly.

But responses to being wronged, whatever the wrong may be and wherever/whenever the wrong may occur, can’t also be unjust and wrong as well. They, instead, must be rooted in one central attitude; they must be grounded in a single mindset: We’re willing to wait. And while we wait, we trust. We wait for God, and we trust in God. This is the undeniable response that is most needed from God’s people, and it is one rooted in a theological directive, not a political dilemma.

You may not initially like this answer. But it is the thread of the New Testament. (1 Cor. 1:7; James 5:7-11; Phil. 3:20; Acts 1:6-11; Titus 2:13; 1 Thess. 1:10; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:12; Jude 21). The primary exhortation to the saints in the first century was not to revolt or resist. It was to wait. And by “waiting,” I don’t mean passiveness. And I don’t mean we don’t work for the just cause of good. I simply mean we are patient as we work, and willing to realize there will be times when our work doesn’t “work.” What then? We wait. And we wait with a kind of patience that knows God is in ultimate control, works all things together for his consummate glory and our ultimate good, and is sending perfect justice soon in the return of his Son, Jesus Christ. That’s who we’re waiting for! 

It shouldn’t surprise us that waiting and trusting is the response of choice for the followers of Jesus. We are pilgrims and exiles (1 Peter 2:11); we are merely passing through (1 Peter 1:17). We are looking for a better city, one whose make and builder is God (Heb. 11:10, 16). This is not our home (Phil 3:20).

So why act like it is? Yes, we may enjoy our time here; but make no mistake—we are mainly called to endure our time here. Joyful endurance is the call and need of the hour for the Church (Heb. 10:36; James 1:12; Heb. 12:1-3). Yet, it seems like the one thing we find hardest to do. Perhaps we have forgotten the way of our Master?

Waiting and trusting is exactly what Jesus modeled for us in his journey to the cross. He was wrongly tried, judged, and killed. But all along the Via Delarosa Jesus trusted his Father (1 Peter 2:23). He waited. Endured. In the end, God vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead, proving him to be our only Savior and Redeemer (Acts 2:24). It’s him we are to emulate, which is why Peter says we are to follow “in his steps” when things of like nature happen to us (1 Peter 2:21; 4:19).

Too many times, though, many copy the impatient. Those who won’t endure. The ones who think an election is our hope. People who consider a man or woman to be their messiah. Those who consider the legal route a never-ending loop till you get your way. However, when none of those things prove sufficient, and all you were hoping for is dashed on the rocks of change, don’t be surprised that chaotic revolt and cultural rebellion is just around the corner. Why? Because that’s what happens when people wait for and trust in the wrong person or thing (James 4:1-2). 

I tend to think waiting is essentially about how you react when things don’t go the way you thought they would or should. That’s why waiting is such a hard thing to do. It calls for loads of perspective and maturity; it takes a ton of willingness to see what’s not immediate. And most Americans and too many Christians lack the discipline of long-distance eyes.

No one is immune from the experience of things not going the way you thought they would or should, especially Christians. When that occurs, God’s people cannot suddenly think we’re exempt from—out from under—the God-ordained government. Yesterday’s actions by those who illegally invaded the Capitol, just like the actions of those who looted and burned blocks of cities last summer, is indicative, not of health and maturity, but just the opposite— selfish immaturity and sinful sickness. Lawlessness is a sign of a lack of life, not the fullness of it. 

This is one of the more spiritually and theologically emotional aspects of this scenario for me. I suspect (emphasis on suspect) many of those involved yesterday would call themselves Christians. Yet, the kind of response we witnessed yesterday from those who didn’t get their way in the last election is so antithetical to what Christ actually called us to do when things don’t go as preferred. As a result, my heart was/is heavy as I watch(ed) the name of Christ being misunderstood, scorned, and mocked by many unbelievers as they saw so-called Christians behaving no differently than themselves. It’s like we’re watching James 4:1-4 being fleshed out in real life. Sad!

Waiting is such a different response. It highlights our dependance upon God, and witnesses to the world that we trust a higher authority ultimately even while we are willing to obey a lower one temporarily (1 Peter 2:17-17). It displays the spirit of meekness blended with the strength of conviction. It is the one response that blows upon the flame of our testimony with a wind that makes it shine brighter. But when you mix politics with your faith in a way that forces the latter to serve the former, you will have your testimony extinguished by the gusts of expedient temper-tantrums from people who think waiting is wimpy.

It’s not. It’s actually mighty. So mighty that the one who waits on the Lord will one day fly like an eagle. Run and not grow tired. Walk without fainting (Is. 40:31). I’ll take waiting every day. 

No doubt more can be said about waiting. Lots more! We could unpack a host of applications that would be very helpful. Perhaps consider doing this with your children, in your family, among your friends. Talk about how to lawfully work to address what’s biblically wrong in our culture without breaking the very law we say we’re upholding; how to be proactive, productive, and patient at the same time. As you do, don’t lose sight of the foundational attitude the Bible calls us to embrace: waiting and trusting. Enduring. This is the earmark of genuine believers (Matt. 24:13).

And pray. It is our first and best action. So pray for our nation and her leaders, especially that their leadership would be the kind that would lead towards a peaceful existence (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Thankfully, many of our civic leaders were trying to do exactly this yesterday, not only during the breakout of unlawful activity, but also afterward in various ways in person, with their voice, and in print. Perhaps we will see more today from our elected and appointed officials, including President Trump. I pray we will.  

Whether we do or don’t, hear this clarion call of one pastor: keep your eyes and hopes above and beyond mere men and women; higher than political aspirations and platforms. Wait for and trust in God. His Word is sure, his grace is enough, his presence is real, his church is unstoppable, and his Son is coming. And till he comes, we will wait, longingly and lawfully, patiently and productively, as citizens of another kingdom—God’s. It may not be our only response, but it is our most worthy one.

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9 Comments on “Why Waiting is a Worthy Response, and Why Storming the Capitol was Not”

  1. How timely was this! I have been battling with the idea of how long I should remain silent, how long till I need to “push’ back on the social, gender, and other political changes happening in our country. Your response and the scripture you reference cam just in time.

  2. I appreciate and agree with so much here. My only question is, why do you assume many involved in this attack are Christians? I think the jury is out on the instigators. From eye witness comments many of these leading the attack obviously came ready for trouble, as witnessed by their dress and demeanor, very different from the normal attendees at an event such as these in the past. And if any were, shame on them.

    1. Becky—Appreciate you taking time to comment. And you’re right…there is somewhat of an assumption being made in this piece, which is why I emphasized the word “suspect.” I made this assumption strictly out of informal, anecdotal evidence; it is just my opinion. I may be wrong, and the current theory/assumption about the real identity of the instigators/participants may prove true. I would still predict the scenario I painted occurred in some way, however. Again, just my opinion. The unintended effect may be that some genuine believers feel “lumped in” with those who aren’t, as Annette indicted. I assure you that’s not my aim. Perhaps in that case our “waiting” is even more necessary as we must rest in the fact that God knows our hearts and will be our true judge on the final day. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Pastor Todd,

    I can sure appreciate this point of view.

    But how do you reconcile this with what our founding fathers finally came to the realization of with their British ‘authority’ and their need to initiate the ‘American Revolution’?

    Without this happening, would we have (or have had) the freedom to exercise the religious freedoms we’ve had the privilege of having over the past 200+ years?

    Just wondering…

    1. Ted—Grateful to have your voice in this. In all transparency, I don’t know how to reconcile it. I have wondered for years about the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of that situation when held against Romans 13. I’m sure there is so much history and many issues in that day that I’m not aware of, so I’m very cautious in even forming a personal opinion. Like you, I do know God uses both good AND evil in accomplishing his purposes, so I’m grateful for solid theology that overrides my and others’ not-so-solid opinions about what happened then and what is happening now. God is moving it ALL towards his final day. I know that’s what we both are waiting on. Thanks again for chipping in and expressing your thoughts; it helps us all.

  4. Hi Todd:

    I highly respect your thoughts on situations such as this, and completely agree with the overall message you are relaying! But I have to wonder, was this written before it was more widely known that the “storming of the Capitol” was not the Trump followers, who were there in a very peaceful protest, but in actuality, the work of the Antifa group, that in a planned and purposeful manner, dressed to fit in as Trump followers, created this mess in order to create chaos and make it look like it was the Trump followers that started it all? That was certainly the message that the mainstream “fake” news was portraying, that’s for sure.

    We need to keep our focus on Jesus and not let the distractions of this world take hold of us. Very difficult for me, but what I am constantly asking for in prayer. God is in control, may His will be done!

    Thanks for your insightfulness!

    1. Jud—Glad you jumped in…thanks for your thoughts. Yes, what you described and what some in the media are saying may very well be true. My guess is by the sheer numbers there were many others caught up in the frenzy. But that’s just my personal opinion. Not sure we’ll ever know. Even in that case, it highlights even more the discipline and sound judgment needed among God’s people to discern what is the most biblical posture to take in times when you want to intersect a spiritually “waiting” posture with a physically “working” stance. Always love hearing from our flock and glad you joined the conversation.

  5. I had friends that traveled from different states to participate in the peaceful support of President Trump. They have all shared how there were groups of people praying together for our nation, singing, and the rallying cry USA! With their “Boots on the ground” they have said they saw people who were dressed and ready to cause trouble. I honestly believe these to be plants of ANTIFA and the like. The behaviors were ANTIFA not that of Trump supporters, who really were supporting the very idea of true and fair elections. I agree with the word you have shared but humbly ask that you take a step back before you lump those that love their country with those that are destructive to be one in the same.

    1. Annette—Thanks for commenting. As I told Becky, it’s not my aim to “lump” all together. So I appreciate your exhortation. I don’t doubt there were genuine believers caught up in that riot presumably started by other radical groups, people with legitimate concerns and protesting legally. I would still contend the scenario I painted occurred in some way, however. Again, just my opinion. Grateful you chimed in.

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