How should Christians approach politics and government? This week, Kyle tackled this tough question by dividing it into four parts: 1) What should Christians be concerned about when it comes to politics and government? 2) What difference do politics actually make for Christians? 3) Should we try to advance Christian morals through government? 4) How do we make moral and biblical voting decisions with the choices we have?
Historically, there have been a wide range of approaches to politics for Christians from the totally hands-off approach -- that Christians should remain completely separate from government -- to the totally hands-on approach -- that Christians should be involved in every part of the process. While opinions may differ, we can glean some general principles from Romans 13. Romans 13:1-7 tells us that God has ordained government. God created the world with order and rule; God rules over creation and He made us in His image with dominion over the world. That tells us that we shouldn't just throw government aside. Instead, we should participate in government as part of our role as God's image bearers. We also learn from Romans 13 that God puts authorities in place, that He is sovereign, and that authorities are God's servants, whom God uses to bring justice, protection, and the common good.
What should Christians be concerned with when it comes to government?
First, Christians should submit to the government. Since God has ordained these rulers, we are to put ourselves under their authority, in humility, for Christ's sake. Note that submission isn't necessarily the same as obedience; we don't act outside of God's moral law. But we do submit to the rule of law and its consequences should conscience dictate that we not obey. Second, we are to support our government. The Romans passage tells us that we pay taxes because this is part of the common good. But we not only support financially; we also support through prayer. If Paul can tell Timothy to pray for Nero, then we can surely pray for whoever ends up in the oval office this November. Finally, we are to participate in our government. In a democracy, submission to the government includes taking part in it.
So what difference does politics really make for the Christian?
Although we shouldn't try to use politics to enforce Christian values, though we should promote those values, seeing ourselves as constructive collaborators with our government. The church's job is not to rule, and the government's job is not to tell people how to practice their religion. But the church can act as salt and light in the government, providing a kingdom perspective. Our ultimate goal is not to change politics or society, but to change hearts. Systems don't change hearts -- but the gospel does. If we focus on changing the hearts of individuals with the gospel, those voters will elect leaders who can change society.
How do we make good political choices?
How do we make a good decision given imperfect choices within an imperfect system? First, we must remember that we follow Christ, not a party. And as we follow Christ, there are some steps we can take. 1) We should be informed about political candidate's stances on various issues; 2) We should prioritize the issues that matter most to us and our faith. Kyle suggests focusing on issues related to freedom, life, and justice. 3) We ought to participate. Instead of giving up and bailing out, we should make our voices heard. 4) When the election is over, we must give respect and honor where it's due, regardless of the outcome. 5) Finally, we must remain hopeful in the source of true hope. Our hope is not in how America fares; our hope is in God. The Lord reigns and his plan cannot be derailed, and His kingdom is forever.
Questions to Consider:
- What are my priorities when it comes to political issues?
- Am I submitting to and giving respect to those in authority?
- Where is my hope this election season? Is it in America, or in Christ?