Politics: How active should we be?
Some people say Christians should stay out of politics. Should they? Should Christians turn the government over to unbelievers and let them make the policies by their standards? Some people certainly promote that. I’ve even known pastors who said they always avoided speaking from the pulpit on things political. Is that what their policy should be? Is that the example Jesus set for us? Is that the example the apostle Paul set? No, it is not! I’ll show you some examples.
Let’s begin with Jesus. Didn’t He speak out on things political? Wasn’t His whole ministry centered around a coming kingdom on Earth that He Himself will govern politically as King? Didn’t He also tackle the potentially controversial subject of taxation? Didn’t He take the time to teach about paying taxes to support government? In that discussion, wasn’t it Jesus who taught that the people should render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s?
20 And he [Jesus Christ] saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription [on their coinage]?
21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. [Emphasis added]
It appears there’s quite a list of things Jesus spoke out about that had political repercussions. In fact, so far as the government was concerned, it was because of things political He had said and not said pertaining to government that the form of capital punishment of the day was imposed on Him. He was crucified right along with two who were criminals!
Matthew 23 gives us clear statements Christ made to the government leaders of Israel. The scribes and Pharisees weren’t just “ministers” of spiritual truth, but administrators who served to teach and enforce the Mosaic Law of the land. It was that document that served as their constitution and more. These men were in positions of authority to serve as both spiritual and political leaders of the nation Israel. Notice some of His words about them.
Matthew 23:1-5, 13-15, 33
1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
Was this not a political statement about the rulers of the time?
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries [a small leather box containing Hebrew texts on vellum worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder that they need to keep the law of Moses], and enlarge the borders of their garments,
This is just the beginning of that long chapter. Later in this presentation He speaks clearly about His opinion of them. Some would foolishly say He was unloving toward them.
13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
If all this isn’t Him taking a political stand against them, I don’t know what is. Then notice verse thirty-three.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? [Emphasis added]
I’d say that’s blunt! But didn’t Christ also truly love these people? Wasn’t it also for them He was going to give His life on the cross to provide for them a way for their eternal salvation? Because we know He was sinless, there was in no way that these things were said and done as an expression of anything but perfect love. Scripture verifies this very thing for us.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Emphasis added]
What about John the Baptist? Wasn’t he one of God’s ministers in that day? Didn’t he also talk about this coming earthly kingdom the Messiah would bring about? But didn’t he eventually get his head cut off because he spoke out about the political leadership and their immoral practices of his day? Let’s look at what’s said about that.
3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife.
4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
6 But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.
9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. [Emphasis added]
Was not John speaking out about certain political events of the day? Being a believer, was this something he should not have done? Some I’ve known would say he should have been rebuked for this. But please notice our Lord’s comments and words of commendation about John. Our Lord had only words of praise for him.
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. [Emphasis added]
What would Jesus say today about government gun control and the citizen’s right to bear arms. Would He have anything to say about that? Would comments about it be a part of His ministry? Notice what He told His disciples about bearing arms.
36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. [Emphasis added]
I think it’s clear that He would want us to speak out and encourage the bearing of arms. I also believe He’d speak out to government about the matter. Here in this passage of Scripture He’s talking about the short two-edged sword [the MACHAIRA sword] carried by Roman soldiers. Today it would probably be a large caliber handgun or rifle. For more information about this specifically, you can go to our website article about this subject of bearing arms. Here’s the link to it. https://4us2usministries.com/questions/government-what-about-the-right-to-bear-arms/
But what are we to think of the comment in Scripture that says we’re not supposed to be involved in “the things that are in the world”? I’ve even heard this as a reason we shouldn’t get involved in things political.
I John 2:15-16
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [Emphasis added]
Here he’s simply speaking of priorities. No, the things of this world, even politics, are not to take priority over our lives. It is our relationship with our Lord that is to be valued above all else. Our consistent daily intake and application of God’s Word should take priority over everything. But by no means are we not to be involved in politics. It is quite important for us to do our part toward having good government and good laws and policies. That takes getting involved in politics no matter what one’s occupation. Things political need a prominent place in our lives. We also need to always utilize our right to vote. We should do everything within our power to work toward having and/or maintaining good government personnel. All that IS to have a meaningful place in our lives. However, I’ve even known believers who refused to vote, thinking it wasn’t something they should concern themselves with. However, all such things have a place in our lives but, again, not as top priority. Unfortunately, there are believers who take things to the extreme. Either they’re not interested at all or they’re more interested in the things of politics than they are the Word of God and its dissemination. I’ve even known people who would travel many miles for political events and even sit out in the rain for it but wouldn’t drive across town and sit in an air-conditioned building to hear the Word of God taught. As with a lot of things, there’s a need for balance. However, as it has also been said, “Some people are so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good.”
In conclusion, believers are to be active in the things of government, but that’s not to override their activity in things of a spiritual nature. They should be primarily known as ones who represent the Lord Jesus Christ well in all that they say and do. Their decision-making in all areas of life should be applications of the Word of God.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. [Emphasis added]