As we approach another election day, it's a good time to consider God's Word and think through what the Christian's role is in politics.
In Jeremiah 29:7, God told the exiled Jews, “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” The Jews were being sent to a land that was not their home. But God still instructed them to do what they could to be a blessing to the people there. Christians need to remember that this world is not our home, but whatever country we might live in, we have been placed as preserving salt and illuminating light. The Church is a city set on a hill (Matthew 5:13-16) and God can use the way we interact with our communities and nation to be a blessing both now in temporal things and for eternity.
With all this in mind, here are some good things for Christians to do:
It is good for Christians to participate and vote.
In 1 Peter 2:13-17, Christians are told to be subject to governing authorities. We are commanded to, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” Amazingly, this command was given first to the church when they were under the Roman Empire and in times of persecution. Even today in other countries of the world, we have brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering and even being martyred for believing the same things we believe. This is wickedness and open rebellion against God. Governments should not punish people for doing good or believing in the truth. And in verse 14 of 1 Peter 2 we are taught that government leaders are “sent by Him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” What a privilege we have in this country to participate in the election of leaders! We get to evaluate campaign platforms through the grid of God's Word and see whether candidates would pursue good or evil and (With God's help and biblical discernment) cast our vote accordingly.
God expressed His displeasure toward the northern kingdom of Israel for their choices of leadership in Hosea 8:4, where He says, “They made kings, but not through me. They set up princes, but I knew it not. With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction.” And in Proverbs 28:12, we are reminded, “When the righteous triumph, there is great joy. When the wicked rise, people hide themselves.” Let's do our part and exercise the freedom we have to elect leaders and approve proposals that promote righteousness for the good of our local communities, states, and nation.
It is good for Christians to pray.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-4 the Apostle Paul writes this, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
It is right and good for us to pray for the President, Vice President, Supreme Court Justices, members of congress, our governor, and any other local leader (Whether we voted for them or not). Pray for their salvation! Pray for discernment. Pray for those who give them counsel. Pray for all of these things and more for their good and so that we might remain free to live a godly and dignified Christian life in peace. Then remember, if we have been gifted with a peaceful land in which we can freely worship Jesus, we MUST take advantage of that freedom and proclaim the gospel to everyone we can, that they might “come to the knowledge of the truth.”
It is good for Christians to rest in God's providence.
No matter who is in charge of our country, our state, or our town, God is in charge! Here is some scriptural evidence:
Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Proverbs 21:1 – The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.
Psalm 33:11 – The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
In Isaiah 44:28, God speaks of the unbelieving king of Persia, King Cyrus, and this is what He says, “He is My shepherd, and he shall fulfill all My purpose.” The most powerful government leader in the world at that time, even though he did not know God or believe in Him, belonged to the Lord and was used for the Lord's purposes. If that was true of Cyrus, it's also true of the President of the United States of America and any other political leader. God's purposes will stand. His will shall be accomplished. Even if the person you voted for doesn't win, or even if an unrighteous proposal passes, God is not surprised or taken off course. We can rest in His sovereign control.
It is good for Christians to seek God's kingdom first.
Our God is sovereign. Jesus is our King. All authority on earth and in heaven has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). And here is our King's command from Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
It's a good thing to be informed about what's going on in the world around us. But if we're not careful, with the constant stream of information being presented to us for our consumption, instead of us consuming the news, the news will consume us. Every couple of years we hear the same admonition from the media, “This is the most important election of our lifetime!” While that may be true, even the most important election of our lifetime is not more important than the kingdom of God. Christians, consume the Word of God. Let the Spirit illumine your mind and comfort your heart with the truth of the inspired Word. Then go and do what it says! Go and make disciples.
There are two amazing things that can result from prioritizing our lives in this way that I would like to point out to you. First, this command from Jesus to seek His kingdom first in Matthew 6 is given in the context of how to fight against anxiety. How many Christians struggle with anxiety when we get overwhelmed with the non-stop news cycles of our day? There is a way to be free from that anxiety! Seek His kingdom first! Second, guess what would happen should the Lord bless our efforts to seek His kingdom first and make disciples of all nations (Including the one we live in): The answer is in Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” You will live with less anxiety and do more for this country by turning off the television and ministering to people. That's a win-win. Seek the kingdom.
It is good for Christians to put our hope in Christ.
When the Apostle Paul was stuck in prison chains, he had to remember that no amount of money, Caesar, nor any other political leader was going to be his savior. Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” No matter who wins the next election (And the one after that…and the one after that…), we can be content. We can have everything we need. Our hope can remain utterly secure if it rests in the only One who can save us, Jesus Christ. He is the one who gives us strength. He is the one who rescues us when we are in the valleys of life. He is the one who rescues us from our own proclivity to pride while on the mountaintops. There is no politician on the face of this earth who can compare to our eternal Savior and King. “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
So Christians, let's engage the culture. It's good for us to participate in our government and vote. And as we do, let's be praying, resting in God's providence, seeking His kingdom first, and putting all our hope in the Lord, our only Savior, and King, Jesus Christ!