Christians and Politics

A podcast listener recently asked a thoughtful question:

While we are citizens in our fellow countries, how can we avoid engaging ourselves in political discussions? The nature of discussing politics can often raise its ugly head, often causing division. Political discussion, at times, does not reflect a right attitude to cohesion or unity. As fellow believers, how can we avoid such discussions?

To help answer this question, here are some important biblical thoughts.

First, understand that as a born-again Christian, you are a dual citizen. You are a citizen of God’s kingdom. And you are a citizen of a kingdom in this world. For me, the kingdom of this world is the United States. For the Christians of the first century church it was Rome.

As a citizen of a nation of this world – you should be a good citizen.

  • Jesus teaches clearly that you should pay your taxes – no matter how high, how complicated or how supposedly unfair they might seem to be (Matt. 22:17-21).
  • Paul teaches us to obey the laws of government, regardless of whether they are convenient and reasonable or not (Rom. 13:1-7).

When Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in Rome, the government was not necessarily reasonable and was especially favorable to Christians. The emperor was a man named Nero, a man who despised Christians. Rumor has it that he started a blazing fire in the city of Rome so that he could blame the Christians. He also used Christians as human torches, covering them in tar and lighting them on fire alive, to provide light in his palace hallways. And he regularly featured Christians in the Colosseum entertainment events in Rome, where they had to fight professionally trained and equipped gladiators and even wild, hungry beasts like lions, tigers and bears. These Christians suffered gruesome deaths.

So did Paul encourage the Christians to go on a crusade against the government? Did he tell them that the church should rise up and rebel? No. He gave simple instructions: obey the government.

Now there is one exception to this rule. You should disobey the government only when the government tells you to do something that is sinful and unbiblical. You should disobey the government in this case by continuing to do what is right and biblical (Acts 5:29).

Daniel did this, remember (Dan. 6)? He obeyed King Darius in every way. But when Darius ratified a law that required citizens to worship him – King Darius – as a god and that they could no longer pray to the God of the Bible in personal life – then Daniel kept a very nice, very gracious, very submissive and gentle attitude – but continued to pray to the God of the Bible three times daily in his personal life, and he continued to refuse to worship Darius as a god. He didn’t argue with other people. He just quietly, calmly, faithfully did what was right with a good attitude.

Because he did what was right, he was thrown into a pit of lions. But God closed the mouths of the lions and they didn’t even touch him. Amazing, right?

With this one exception in mind, we have to consider an important responsibility that we have as Christians. We should pray for our government officials. Whether you have a president and vice president, a king or queen, a prime minister, a senator, and assembly person, a parliamentary representative, a chief, a judge, a mayor, a governor or any other kind of government official – then you should refrain from arguing with them and disobeying them – if that is happening – and you should pray for them instead.

If we would pray for our government officials as often and as intensely as we argue about them and about politics, then maybe we would see God do some more special and biblical things in and through our governments.

And let me add that if you have an opportunity to have any measure of positive, godly, Christian influence on your government – whether local or national politics – you should take that opportunity for the glory of God.But first, and most importantly, you should pray (1 Tim. 2:1-4).

Do you pray for your government officials, even if you disagree with them about some things (or a lot of things!)?

If you have the opportunity to vote in an election, for instance, then you should study carefully to find out which person has the most biblical beliefs, whether they are Christian or not, and then you should go out and vote for the person who has the most biblical beliefs. As a Christian, you should let your voice be heard. But do this in a gracious and responsible way. Don’t riot, damage property, hurt people, yell angry things, go online and post nasty bitter comments, etc. Do your duty. Vote. Vote for Christian values. But then whoever gets elected into office – even if you didn’t vote for them, obey them in every way that is not against the clear teaching of the Bible, even if they make you pay a lot of taxes that you don’t want to pay!

Now on one more final point, the podcast listener asked how to avoid controversy and arguments between believers that can happen when you get into conversations about politics.

The answer to this is very simple actually. If talking about politics is not a conversation about biblical truth and things that will encourage faith and strong relationships between one another, then avoid the topic entirely.

  • Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
  • Colossians 3:8 – “But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
  • 1 Thess. 5:11 – “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”

Focus your conversation with other Christians on things that will strengthen their faith and encourage them to have a closer and more obedient relationship with Christ.

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