Political Allure & Powerful Engagement
I know, you’re probably fed up with all the Political back-and-forth, obviously-biased opinion columns and the unending advertisements focused primarily on the failures of the opposing party. I am too. But I believe that Christians have something to offer all during this political process regardless of the outcome of the election, and clarifying a few issues can go a long way towards navigating our politicized world. Hopefully you will benefit from reading further.
As I’ve shared in my church before, there’s a left-wing response, a right-wing response, and the Gospel-centered response to almost every issue. The danger comes in fusing any political worldview with the radical life and teaching of Jesus Christ and calling it “Christian”.
When the mother of James and John came to Jesus, requesting that they be placed in the highest honors in God’s Kingdom, rightly recognizing Jesus’ Lordship, this was His response, directed at all His disciples: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt 20:25-28)
It is natural to assume that the greatest way to impact your world is to assume the highest positions of power, but Jesus, our very God and Creator, modeled just the opposite, being made into the lowest public servant: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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 2:4-11)
How does this translate into the political arena? First by recognizing the need to be involved as this nation’s citizens, yet recognizing the limitations of government and politics towards true, lasting, and positive change. Our identity is primarily found in being fellow citizens of God’s Kingdom and members of His household (Ephesians 2:19), and that our primary role is in being His ambassadors to the world, as God is making His appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:20)! In other words, we are too short-sighted when we put our trust in any worldly schemes, and that includes government.
To be sure, Christians still have a defined role with secular governments: Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. What would this expression of obedience to God, then government look like in our current political setting?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all Christians have a God-given mandate to vote; I don’t see that anywhere. But these times can be opportunities to let our voices be heard, as Christian citizens, “making the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). Don’t hesitate to have those difficult discussions/debates with those you know, from a Kingdom of God perspective.What about voting when neither candidate has the character or the alignment with Kingdom issues? Here, Christians are to be, as Jesus described it, as “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”. (Matthew 10:16) I believe you can vote based on BOTH your conscience AND the issues!
Considering that all people are created in the Image of God, followers of Christ hold that there is a Sanctity of Life that we must adhere to. Every person is loved by God, and therefore we are to both “love our neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:39), and “do to others as we would have done to us”. (Matt 7:12) The Sanctity of Life speaks to almost all the issues: Abortion, Veteran Care, Firearms, Free Trade, health care, education, immigration, terrorism, etc., keeping in mind that the government’s primary role is to protect its citizens. They cannot love, or care for the marginalized in society like Christ’s Church is called to do!
Here is an operating principle which I heard from apologist Ravi Zacharias on the issue of voting: “Vote in a way that promotes an environment with the freedom to worship God in the way that honors Him.” Keep in mind as well that Christ-followers are to expand our love globally, not just regionally. The early disciples had to learn God’s love for the world (John 3:16), included reaching out to not just Jerusalem (their home town), but Judea (their region), Samaria (other races within their country), and the ends of the earth (globally)! (Acts 1:8)
Our Faith, though personal, is not private! Worship Him in every aspect of life, even politically.