Last I night I made a remark about Jesus and politics. I said that the only time Jesus came close to mentioning politics was when he said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Add to that the verse/passage in Romans 13 about obeying/respecting earthly authorities, and that’s it.
But is it? Is that really all God’s Word has to say?
I don’t mean did God’s Word tell us to vote or which party to pick. We all know – if we re honest – that no such verse states that. But when it comes to our political decisions as Christ-followers, are those two verses really our only guides?
After reflection, I would say no. Here’s why: we are given quite a few instructions about how to conduct ourselves and which company to keep in God’s Word. And those verses absolutely should influence who we vote for or, dare I say it, whether we should vote or not.
“But, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one.”
~ I Corinthians 5:11
The world watches us. When we excuse sin, especially direct sin, it watches. The world ignores sin all the time – that is what lost people do. It always amazes me when Christians are surprised by this or use the world’s measuring stick and behavior to deflect. We as Christians are supposed to be different, peculiar even. So, we don’t get to allow what the world does to justify what we do.
We do not have the luxury of ignoring public individual sin. We do not have the luxury of sweeping it under the rug, sidestepping it, hoping someone has privately repented, comparing it to the sins of others. We are not given permission to speculate as to how the temptation wasn’t the sinner’s fault, how the good we think we see outweighs the bad the world absolutely sees. In short, association by endorsement of a known sinner who denies his or her sin is not an option. IF we truly follow Christ. I’ll say this again later, but the truth is this: the lesser of two evils is still evil.
“An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,”
~ I Timothy 3:2
Wait, this is talking about a preacher or a deacon! Look at the original language! I have 200 pages of exegetical information about who this applies to cause SEMINARY! Or a church pew.
Guess what? The world doesn’t care. They don’t care how the original Greek is parsed. In Romans 13, those put in governmental authority of us are called “ministers of God.” So, if you want to know what God thinks about who we select, read the above. And no, I don’t mean the much debated “husband of one wife” and what that might mean. I mean the bolded. The man to whom we give our Christ-following endorsement should be above reproach.
To give you an example, this is why people like Billy Graham and Mike Pence do not allow themselves to be alone with a woman other than their wives, even in an elevator. See, it doesn’t just matter whether they DO anything bad in an elevator (and neither of them likely would). It matters what the world perceives. It just does. That brings me to another verse I almost forgot: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:22.
“There are six things which the LORD hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.”
~ Proverbs 6:16-19
Ah…. I can already hear thoughts on this one. So, I’ll share a story. I know a man who was called by God and falsely accused. This was quite a while ago. The whisperings and accusations were untrue, but they were causing great strife in his congregation. Because he was innocent, he could have insisted on keeping both feet firmly planted behind that pulpit on principle. I mean, he was innocent. Why should he have to suffer? However, his flock was divided, hateful, squabbling, and it was not only hurting them, it was causing the world to take notice and say, “See, Look at those people! I want no part of that!” So, he stepped down, not because he was guilty, but because he was godly. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been. Kind of like when Jesus was accused of being a despot and subversive and all sorts of things so that the Roman government would crucify Him. He could have dug in and proved them all false. I mean, He was innocent. But we weren’t.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
~ James 1:27
This is a good transition verse because it applies to politicians AND to us as professing Christ-followers, who the world is watching. Keeping oneself unstained by the world is tough. I mean, if you own a television it’s already a struggle. It’s like trying not to get flour on yourself while baking or frying chicken (smile). We may not always succeed, and I am sure many of us have private ways in which we have allowed the world to rub off – I know I do. But…we can make the simple, biblical decision not to give our stamp of approval to public sin, reproach, and the appearance of evil.
“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”
~ Daniel 2:21
Who is He in this verse? Is it the constituents, voters, lobbyists? Um…no. He is God. The one who created light by speaking it so. He is plenty capable of choosing and ordaining who and what He sees fit. He doesn’t need our help, so we don’t need to panic. And remember, He even used a donkey to speak, so we needn’t fret that He won’t be able to work if we don’t get out and support the lesser of two evils. Because. Like I said, the lesser of two evils is still evil.
“but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.”
~ Psalm 75:7
Again, this is not an us thing. The fact that we think we MUST do something against our conscience (unless party preference has usurped conscience) or chaos will ensue, smacks of pride and a belief that God needs our help.
“By me kings reign and rulers issue decrees that are just; by me princes govern, and nobles—all who rule on earth.”
~ Proverbs 8:15-15
Just to drive this home: Saul was crazy, Ahab was a turncoat with an evil wife. Rehoboam, the first Jeroboam, Jehoram. Not good kings, not good men. Did any of them prevent God’s plans from being accomplished? How did they become kings?
Perhaps we need to remember Matthew 16:13-18:
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, [b]Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
So, what does all this mean when polls open on any given day? I know what it means for me. It means my vote is not decided based on friendship or party association or what I might be afraid of. There is one thing that decides my vote, and that is God’s Word, the fact that I profess to be a Christ-follower, and the undeniable fact that the world is watching…all of us. That is the only thing that decides my vote, even if my vote is to stay home.
Because our hope is not found in politics or who is in power. Our one calling is not to lobby for the right candidate. Our hope is in Jesus, and our one calling is to go into all the world and make disciples – something that will be hard to do if the world doesn’t trust our faith.