Christians and Politics: What is a Believer to Do?
Written August 2019
We are living in a time where politics and the issues that surround them are basically a warzone. People are polarized, passionate, and poised to take out anyone who has a different opinion. Gone are the days of mutual respect, calm discussion, and the freedom to exchange ideas and philosophies with no fear of losing a friend or creating an enemy.
Now, if you have an opinion that is contrary to someone else you are branded with any number of heinous and vulgar names. It is sad that we now live in a world where we would rather fight than discuss the issues of our nation. Worse still, there exists an attitude that it is better to expel from your life those that disagree with you politically.
I have acquaintances from high school which have said words that I cannot repeat in a church newsletter their opinions about anyone who voted differently than they did in this past election.
It is a sad and scary time in which we live, and in this time the question arises, what are Christians to do in regards to politics? As followers of Christ, what should be our attitude and our involvement with politics?
Let me give some simple truths to remember that will hopefully help us in this whole political conundrum.
The first is this, when it comes to political affiliations and political issues, nothing supersedes our allegiance to Christ, our faith in God, or the teachings of the Word of God. Our relationship to Christ is the defining characteristic of all of our lives and that should be reflected in every aspect of our who we are regardless of popular opinion.
When it comes to politics, or political issues the Christian mindset should always be what does the Bible say, what teachings of Scripture and depart from the very character of Christ we must make a stand to reject such a stance no matter how popular it is amongst the masses.
The second is this, regardless of our political situation, God is ruling and is in complete control.
It is God’s will that takes precedence over everything and everyone (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
11Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. 12Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. — (1 Chronicles 29:11-12 ESV)
What God has purposed, He will bring to pass, and no government can thwart His will (Daniel 4:35).
All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” — (Daniel 4:35 NIV)
In fact, it is God who “sets up kings and deposes them” (Daniel 2:21) because “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Daniel 4:17).
21He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. — (Daniel 2:21 NIV)
“‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’ (Daniel 4:17 NIV)
A clear understanding of this truth will help us to see that politics and governments are merely a method God uses to accomplish His will. Now, do bad and sometimes evil persons rise to power and do terrible things? Unfortunately yes. We live in a sinful and fallen world. However, even though individuals exist who abuse their political power and do evil in this world, God is ever in control, working “all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
We might not understand God’s ways but we can be completely confident that our God is in control and will always bring about His will in this world.
Does that mean that we completely disengage from the political world, throw up our hands and never vote or engage in a political conversations again? No, we should vote and be informed about our world and if God so directs us, to make a stand for an issue we know to be righteous and just. What this means is that all our hopes and dreams are not within the hands of government but within the hands of God.
I think far too often we get into the rut of acting like God does not exists when it comes to Washington DC or state capitals. Sadly, many on Capitol Hill have forgotten God completely and I believe it would do our nation a world of good to remember Who is truly in charge of this world. To remember and acknowledge that God is the sovereign ruler over all the universe and one day we will all answer to Him is a sobering act that has life changing effects.
Finally, we must grasp the fact that our government cannot save us! Only God can. We never read in the New Testament believers on how to reform the pagan world of its idolatrous, immoral, and corrupt practices via the government. The apostles never called for believers to demonstrate civil disobedience to protest the Roman Empire’s unjust laws or brutal schemes or to rally people together against what they saw as immoral or wrong.
In fact, the good that church did towards the community, poor, homeless, and outcast was done by the body of the church itself. These acts were carried out by loving and caring individuals that saw the needs of those around them. Government was not involved or brought in to help, it was simply an act of love done by those wanting to share the love of Christ.
Interestingly, if you look into the history books, the times in which governments were set up as Christian entities were not great times for humanity. During the early Middle ages in Europe, Christians were in power nearly everywhere and wars were common and the crusades happened. In the time of the reformation if you went against the Catholic church you could be imprisoned or even killed.
Having a particular government is not the key to prosperity or safety. Evil lives within the heart and the only cure is Jesus Christ. Instead of running for political office, the apostles commanded the first-century Christians, as well as us today, to proclaim the gospel and live lives that give clear evidence to the gospel’s transforming power.
There is no doubt that our responsibility to government is to obey the laws and be good citizens (Romans 13:1–2). God has established all authority, and He does so for our benefit, “to commend those who do right” (1 Peter 2:13–15). Paul tells us in Romans 13:1–8 that it is the government’s responsibility to rule in authority over us—hopefully for our good—to collect taxes, and to keep the peace. Where we have a voice and can elect our leaders, we should exercise that right by voting for those who best demonstrate Christian principles.
One of Satan’s grandest deceptions is that we can rest our hope for cultural morality and godly living in politicians and governmental officials. A nation’s hope for change is not to be found in any country’s ruling class.
Nowhere in Scripture do Christians have the explicit command to spend our energy, our time, or our money in governmental affairs. Now are there situations and circumstances that might merit us doing just that, yes. There are many instances in our history where people have worked to change and influence our government for the better. There are times where our government needs to change and needs to pass laws which offer protections, human rights, and justice for the oppressed.
The difference should be for us, is that we are compelled into these actions because of Christian love and a dedication to the truth of God’s Word, and out of a desire to be the body of Christ in this world.
No amount of government, no amount of laws or regulations, no amount of good elected officials will ever deal with the most harmful and destructive force on this planet, which is sin. It is sin that corrupts the heart, it is sin that makes us love all things which are vile. It is sin that is the root of the evil in this world.
The Christian’s ultimate mission lies not in changing the nation through political reform, but in changing hearts through the Word of God. Our Christian mandate is to spread the gospel of Christ and to preach against the sins of our time. Only as the hearts of individuals in a culture are changed by Christ will the culture begin to reflect that change.
Believers throughout the ages have lived, and even flourished, under antagonistic, repressive, pagan governments. This was especially true of the first-century believers who, under merciless political regimes, sustained their faith under immense cultural stress. They understood that it was they, not their governments, who were the light of the
world and the salt of the earth. They adhered to Paul’s teaching to obey their governing authorities, even to honor, respect, and pray for them (Romans 13:1-8). More importantly, they understood that, as believers, their hope resided in the protection that only God supplies. The same holds true for us today. When we follow the teachings of the Scriptures, we become the light of the world as God has intended for us to be (Matthew 5:16).
Political entities are not the savior of the world. The salvation for all mankind has been manifested in Jesus Christ. God knew that our world needed saving long before any national government was ever founded. He demonstrated to the world that redemption could not be accomplished through the power of man, his economic strength, his military might, or his politics. Peace of mind, contentment, hope and joy—and the salvation of mankind—is accomplished only through His work of faith, love, and grace.
Now with all that being said, what do we do with all the politics, name calling, issues of the day, and all the mess that our nation is dealing with today. What is a believer to do.
Here are my thoughts. Be a prayer warrior – Scripture tells us to pray for those in authority over us and we should pray for all those that make laws, patrol our streets, and put their lives on the line for us. Each person in Washington is imperfect and they will make mistakes and show that they have a sinful nature about them. We should pray that they would overcome those temptations and make choices which would be good and right.
Love people regardless of whether you agree or disagree with them – In The Message Matthew 5:43-48 is put this way
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
It bothers me tremendously to hear the absolutely horrendous things which are being said by not only our elected officials but by those who are passionately supporting them. If we are to have any chance of bringing about change in this world it will be through the act of love not hate. As we go through this season of political unrest, let us remember to love our neighbors
Don’t bully – It doesn’t matter how right you are or how strongly you feel about a certain political topic, to insult, bully, and demean someone to the point where they feel worthless is wrong.
Inform, don’t insult – If you feel strongly about something inform others about it. Lovingly, patiently, courteously explain your position. Don’t insult someone because they disagree with you, that is neither a Christian attitude nor a way toward changing someone’s mind about a topic
Accept don’t attack – in the course of your life you are going to find people that vote differently that you do and that believe differently than you. These are not grounds for an attack or vehement words of disapproval. If you find someone who thinks, votes, or has beliefs which are different than you, accept that is where they are right now in their life. It doesn’t make them a horrible person or someone less than worthy of Christian love, patience, or kindness. In fact, if we really want to change someone’s mind about something the pathway that is most effective is love.
Be Christ in this world – One of my favorite verses in all the Bible is Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Each day our mission is clear, we can do no greater good in our lives than each day rising and being the best representative for Christ in this world.
Christians and Politics, what is a believer to do? Simply put we are to live for Christ each and every day to the very best of our ability. In that we will help change this world.