In less than one week our nation will elect one of two men, president, to lead us for the next four years. Unfortunately, many Christians question if they should be involved in politics or even on what level.
From my personal experience, I see two polar opposite ideological camps. The first camp says that Christians have a “higher calling” than politics and should be about spreading the gospel, rather than preaching political policies. The other extreme ideological camp believes that Christians should be vigorously active and involved in the political process, while helping establish policies. Last Sunday I began preaching a two part series in our church titled, “What does the Bible say about Politics?” The two main premises are: 1. Does God care IF I vote? (should Christians be involved in politics at all and if so at what level) and 2. Does God care HOW I vote? (what does the Bible say about current American Political issues). Based on these topics, I will begin this article by answering the first question and follow up next week by answering the second.
If all Christians agree that in order to further understand God we must first look to the Bible as our primary reference. We believe the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind, and, as Christians, it is our sole source for faith and daily living. In essence, as Christians we should allow the Bible alone to guide our doctrine and theology. With this in mind, we must accurately explore what it says about governments and politics. From Genesis to Revelation we find numerous men and women of faith in key government roles and positions. Examples range from Joseph serving as second in command of the mighty nation of Egypt to Israel enstating a monarchy style of government. Also, and perhaps the most notable, would be Nehemiah (who was the chief of staff to King Artaxerxes I of Persia) and Daniel (who was Governor to King Darius & King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon), who were both in very high political positions in government. Perhaps the most famous and notable theologian of the early first century church, the apostle Paul wrote several key passages about Christians and government.
Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-7 that God has given governments to mankind for five primary reasons: 1. Provide peace & prevent chaos 2. Punish evil 3.Praise good 4. Help the helpless 5. To be His & our (the citizens of the government) servants for good.
In Matthew 22:15-22, we see Jesus himself being challenged on this very issue by the Herodians (a type of political party) and Pharisees (a type of religious party). Should followers of Christ pay taxes to Caesar or not? Jesus’ answer is absolutely perfect, he asked for a coin and said, “Whose image is on this coin? They answered, “Caesar’s,” and He said to them, “then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” The coin Jesus was holding up had the image of Tiberius Caesar’s on it and was literally owned, not by the Roman government, but by Tiberius Caesar himself. In other words, Jesus is saying that certain things/issues are a Caesar issue. Therefore, the government and political officials should handle the Caesar issues. However, the real punch of Jesus’ statement was the last part, “give to God what belongs to God.” The Bible plainly states in Genesis 1:27 that “God created man in His image.” In other words, the image that bears government, belongs to and reflects governments, however, mankind, bear God’s image and belongs to Him.
With this in mind, let us harken back to our original statement, “does God care IF I vote, (should Christians be involved in politics at all and if so at what level)? The Christian should understand that the Bible shows us God has given governments for good purposes. However, the governments must also understand that God has given governments the “church”, or Christians, to serve as the moral compass of the nation. The Bible teaches that mankind by nature, (because of sin in chapter three of Genesis) is inherently evil and selfish. It should not be left to man to judge/rule himself. Man (including governments) must look to a higher and purer source for the basis and foundation of his laws, which is God revealed to us in the Bible.
Now after carefully reviewing and understanding what the Bible says about governments, the simple answer is YES, God does desire Christians to be involved in governments, as long as the government does not contradict the Bible’s teaching (this topic I will cover more extensively next week). On a personal side note, I fundamentally believe that as Americans, God has given us the wonderful gift of freedom/democracy and He cares how we use it! Our Delectation of Independence refers to this very statement, “they are endowed by their Creator…” Also, countless men and women have died to help give us this God given gift and when we vote we are honoring their sacrifice!
Finally, I believe that every Christian should understand 4 main principles about their Biblical view of government. 1.Understand, believe, & practice Philippians 3:20, which states that as Christians we are Citizens of Heaven first and as 2 Corinthians 5:20 states, we are Ambassadors to Earth 2.God has given governments to mankind & the Church to governments 3.Christians should ask: What belongs to Caesar? What belongs to God when they are viewing political issues (we will discuss further next week) 4.Christians should be the absolute best citizens of any nation!
Ultimately, it is important that Christians do not become consumed with politics, but rather be consumed with Christ. However, this does not mean we should ignore the political process either for God himself has given us as citizens for our own good! I fundamentally believe that as Christians, we must view the world, and its events, as Christians first and Americans second. As the Bible says we are Citizens of Heaven first and Ambassadors to Earth second.
Christians should be more passionate about the 1st Commandment, than the 1st Amendment.
This Sunday I will be concluding this mini-series with part two, “Does God care HOW I vote (what does the Bible say about current American political issues?)