I have listened and participated in several conversations on politics of late. Often the questions and discussion turn to which candidate you would want and who would you vote for if the two worst possible candidates got the nominations? As a Christian what is my role in the political process? What responsibilities and warnings does the Bible give us? These are somewhat tricky to answer—and if you read and listen to many, many, many people talking the answers vary significantly.
First, every Christian should approach politics and government with two important principles in mind. 1) God is sovereign; He has been and He will continue to be. In Daniel chapter 4, King Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind, his kingdom and lived like a beast of the field. Daniel explains (Daniel 4:17) that the reason this happened was because the king had become proud and both he and all the people of the world need to “know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will.” 2) our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We must not get distracted by our mission and purpose here on earth. Paul warns Timothy that a good, Soldier of Christ, does not get entangled in the affairs of this world because the soldier’s mission is to please his recruiter and commander (2 Timothy 2:4). His warning is to remind us that we have been given a mission: Love God and Love Others (Matthew 22:36-40). Our mission is not to make the world better.
With those principles firmly in mind it is also important to note that Scripture reminds us to respect earthly authorities. Jesus said that when it comes to taxes, for example, that we should “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21). Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that we should pray for kings and those in authority. This makes sense given what he tells the Romans. In Romans 13:1 he says, “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.” Christians are called to submit and be respectful of our governing authorities. In fact, knowing how early Christians in the first and second centuries were persecuted—yet, persevered without rebellion indicates how we should behave as well. Martin Luther King, Jr said, “there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a [Christian] responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a [Christian] responsibility to disobey unjust laws…How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law of God. An unjust law is a code that l is out of harmony with that moral law…And the willingness to accept the penalty for breaking the unjust law is what makes civil disobedience a moral act and not merely an act of lawbreaking.”
As Christians we must stand up and prophetically proclaim truth and adherence to God’s law—similarly to the prophets of Scripture. After all, if we don’t who will? But, we must do it in a way that demonstrates the love God has for the world and the love we have for others. There is nothing wrong with voicing an opinion, taking action and supporting things that are Godly—as long as we do it in love and without forsaking our commission as Soldier’s for Christ.