Politics as Usual
Here we are, again, in a political season, gearing up for another presidential election. Once again, we see and hear the political talk, the divisions, and the unfortunate mudslinging that seems to go hand in hand with politics. As in all matters, Christians cannot afford to set aside their worldview when it comes to how we view politics and government. The Scriptures give us the principles we need to be able to think and act properly. Here are a few of those principles:
1. Submit. Romans 13 provides some instructions about the relationship we have with the governing authorities. Primarily, we are to be subject to the laws. While we are to obey God over man (Acts 5:29), we are not to be instigators of rebellion or insurrectionists. Even if we disagree with the government, we still must submit to the laws and pay the taxes. Keep in mind that the government at the time was the Roman Empire, the rulers of which were often known for immorality and cruelty. Still, Christians needed to submit themselves when they weren't called upon to disobey God. Should that be any less true today?
2. Honor. Whether we like those in power or not, we are to honor the positions they hold. “Honor the king,” said Peter (1 Pet. 2:17). Honoring the positions of power is part of honoring all men. This does not mean that we must agree with them. It does mean that we show respect.
3. Pray. We are to pray for those in power, whether we agree or disagree with their politics (1 Tim. 2:1-2). The stated reason in 1 Timothy is “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” Praying for our country and those in power is one of the most patriotic actions any of us can take. Of course, our actions are not so much about patriotism as they are godliness. Our concern is to glorify God.
4. Never speak evil. We are not to speak evil of anyone, including those in positions of power. Not even Michael would bring a railing accusation against the devil, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9) The powers that be are in God’s hands, and He will deal with them as He wills. When they fail to honor God, then He will judge them.
This is not to say that I endorse or appreciate everything about people in power. I have severe differences with many who make laws, and I try to leave no doubt as to where I stand on moral issues (like abortion or homosexual activity). However, as a Christian, I try to be careful about what I would say concerning those in charge, especially when I disagree with them. We can deal appropriately with the various issues without bringing railing accusations against those in power.
5. Work for Unity. Politics can be more divisive than helpful. Christians should do away with party divisions and promote the unity that only Christ can give (Eph. 2:14). We should be far more concerned about the doctrine of Christ than with a party’s political platform. If a platform agrees with Scripture, well and good, but our faith is not built around a party. If Matthew (a tax collector) and Simon (a zealot) could come together in Christ, no political party today should ever be more important than following Jesus.
6. Be Salt and Light. Jesus taught that His disciples are to be salt and light (Matt 5:13-16). We should not be doing anything that will diminish the effect that we might have in this world. Peter wrote, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12).
7. Serve God and work toward the saving of souls. As a general principle, we might recall what Jesus told the man who wanted to follow Him after he buried his father: “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60). Governments will rise and fall, but through it all, God's kingdom will prevail (Dan 2:44-45). Should our concern for the earthly kingdom be greater than that of God's kingdom? We are to be more concerned about saving souls than for political aspirations. The world certainly won't preach God's kingdom. That task is ours.
While the world witnesses politics as usual, Christians are called to the higher purpose of living for the Lord’s kingdom. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).