I thought this would be a good time to announce my candidacy for the 2020 President of the United States. So if you are unhappy with the way things are going just hold on until then and you can vote for me!
But on a more serious note, I felt like I should write something about a Christian response to politics in the face of some worldwide political tension. America is torn asunder over the current Presidential election, China and Japan are at each others throats over a territorial dispute and much of the Muslim world is furious over a YouTube video. No matter where you live we are in a heated political time.
So I wanted to write this week about how a Christian should respond to the political tensions we are feeling all over the world. I am not here to tell you how to vote or which stance is correct on important issues. Rather, my goal for all of us is to realize some important truths about politics from the Bible rather than from our culture or political system.
First, we must remember above all else that we have one God, and no political leader or ideology can ever replace that. Reading Exodus 20:1-6 you see the first two of the ten commandments. Notice that both focus on keeping God in his place and not trying to put anything above Him. God felt it was so important to remind us that He is God alone that the Scriptures are full of His reminders about this issue.
Problem is that while we may proclaim this we often don’t actually believe it. I see many people writing on Facebook about how one candidate will “Bring America back to the golden days,” or another candidate will “usher in a new time of peace and prosperity.” But the reality is that no man can do that. Nor can any political system usher in utopia. We must remember that God is in control and that He is the one that changes, restores, heals and brings peace.
A great Biblical example of this is with the nation of Babylon. In the latter half of the Old Testament God uses the powerful nation to punish Israel. In Habakkuk 1:5-6 God tells us “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans (also known as the Babylonians), that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own.” After Gos has allowed this He later also allows the great Babylonian nation to be crushed.
Other great examples can be found in Job or even in the Gospels. You see that no political power or great leader is or can take the place of God. So my first challenge is that during these uncertain political times we would all find our hope and faith in God first and foremost above any person, system or ideology.
Second, the Bible also tells us that we must respect and submit to the governing authorities. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1). First, and this touches on our last point, there is no political group or person in charge that God did not allow. Even the worst leaders in the world God allowed them to lead for a period of time and ultimately for a purpose. So we submit to these authorities because in doing so we submit to God.
Secondly, we must learn what it means to submit. Every time after the presidential election in America there is a group of people whining or complaining that their guy didn’t get elected. Comments like “Well I guess this is the end of America” and “I am moving to Canada” are common on Facebook post-election. Christians, is our faith so small and pathetic that we don’t trust that even if our guy didn’t get elected God can and will still work in our country? Do we really want to limit God that much? Instead of whining and making foolish statements about how our political ideas didn’t get chosen, why don’t we trust in God and realize that He rules over all politics. So rather than complaining, how about we learn to submit and support those who God has put in leadership even if they aren’t who we wanted.
On that note, when Romans 13 talks about submission to authorities it doesn’t mean blind submission. As Christians, our authority is always the Bible, not the government. If there is ever a law that is unbiblical than we don’t follow that law, we follow the Bible. However, this is idea is only to be used in instances where the law of the land tries to contradict the law of the Lord. We always must side with the law of the Lord over the law of the land.
Lastly, amidst all this political turmoil, we must remember that we have brothers and sisters in Christ on both sides. Americans, you have republican Christians and democratic Christians. Chinese and Japanese must remember that there are Christians in each country. We must remember that the Middle East has Christian brothers and sisters as well.
Often, when political tensions rise we forget that the other side is our family. Remember that all Christians, no matter what country or political stance they take, are our family. Remember that your identity in Christ is more powerful than your race, nationality or political stance. Romans 12:4-5 says “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
So democratic Christians love your republican brothers and sisters and vice versa. Chinese Christians love your Japanese brothers and sisters and vice versa. Middle Eastern Christians love your western brothers and sisters and vice versa. Your dedication to your family in Christ should be stronger than your blood relatives, race and nationality. If it is ever a choice between my country and Christians from somewhere else I will always stand by the side of my Christian brothers and sisters. May we all remember that and not let current political tensions cause us to lose our love for one another.
And while this may not cover all parts of how a Christian should respond politically, it is a few things I try to live by and think can be useful to all of us who proclaim Christ as our Lord. May we not put our hope in a person or ideology but rather keep our hope in Christ alone. May we learn how to properly and respectfully submit to the authorities that God has put in place. And may we remember to love the family of believers even if they stand on the opposite side of an issue, a political team or in a different country. May we Christians influence politics with our love for Jesus rather than letting politics influence us.