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  • Britton Carter

A Christian Response to the Chinese Balloon Story

Updated: May 30, 2023

Earlier this week, U.S. officials spotted a massive Chinese balloon (not pictured) traveling into U.S. airspace, eventually hovering over Montana. While China claims the balloon is merely tracking weather patterns, U.S. officials strongly believe the balloon is gathering data on strategic American military facilities. This event coincides with the heightening of U.S. and Chinese international relations over the status of Taiwanese independence.

This kind of story doesn’t seem to lend itself to a “Christian response.” Many Christians assume their faith is a personal experience relegated to the private sphere, as if Scripture has much to say about one’s private life but little to say about politics and warfare. Since this balloon event is a precursor to geopolitical conflict, not an issue of private morality, we can leave our Christianity out of the story.

Except the gospel impacts every aspect of our lives. It changes the lens through which we respond to every event. Here are two examples of a Christian response to this story:

Find Peace in God’s Sovereignty Over Nations

Scripture is filled with examples of God’s sovereignty over nations. He raises nations and razes nations. In the book of Habakkuk, God claims responsibility for empowering the Babylonians to conquer vast territory, destroy wicked nations, and capture the nation of Judah. In Acts 17, Paul claims that God determines the allotted periods of existence and boundaries of nations (v. 26). In other words, nations do not rise or fall apart from God’s decisions.

We can take comfort in knowing the international chaos we see is not chaotic to God. He’s still firmly in control. No international event shocks him.

Now, God’s sovereignty over nations doesn't means he is pleased by their actions. Plenty of room exists for the free decisions of the leaders and citizens. And plenty of international policy decisions sadden and anger God.

But no decision occurs that God does not allow. And God knows what he’s doing. If there’s anyone we should want to have firm control over geopolitics, it’s the Lord. And the good news is—he does! As I used to sing growing up, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

No matter how intense our relationship with China becomes, we can trust God. No matter how many wars rage in the world, we can trust God. No matter how close the world gets to nuclear Armageddon, we can trust God.

And when we trust God, we find peace in him. We do not have to worry and stress over America’s international relations; God is in control. Moreover, even if America were to cease to exist as a nation, we are ultimately citizens of God’s eternal kingdom, and no geopolitical turmoil can ever revoke our citizenship. So take comfort and find peace in God’s sovereignty over the nations.

Pray for Wisdom for Our Leaders

Even though we are ultimately citizens of God’s eternal kingdom, we shouldn’t hope for the destruction and humiliation of our current nation of residence. And we shouldn’t hope for the destruction and humiliation of a rival power, recognizing the humanity of that nation’s citizens. Instead, we should seek the best outcomes that result in the greatest human flourishing due to the wise decisions of our leaders.

In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon underscores the superiority of wisdom over foolishness. Wisdom is better because it results in better outcomes. Successful diplomacy is better than warfare. Mutual economic advancement is better than mutual sabotage.

However, achieving those good outcomes requires wisdom on the part of our leaders. Thus, as Americans, we should vote for wise leaders—not just leaders who say the right phrases or speak to our passions, but leaders who display a keen insight into reality and the consequences of their decisions. And regardless of who wins elections, as Christians, we should pray for wisdom for those making decisions.

Should the United States shoot down the balloon and risk causing catastrophic damage at the crash site and inciting a clash between two major world powers? Should they allow the balloon to proceed and risk giving China sensitive information and an opportunity to save face? Our leaders need the wisdom to make good decisions, so we should lift them up and pray for wisdom. And whatever the outcome, we can have peace in knowing God is still firmly in control.

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