What are politics?
We have forgotten what the real meaning of politics is. Allow me to explain the true definition. Politics is most simply defined as the science of government. Remember that God established government (Romans 13:1), which means that politics were established by God. And what God established was done so for his glory. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11 (NIV) That means that God established politics for his glory.
Maybe part of the reason that politics are in such turmoil today is partially due to Christians withdrawing from the sphere of government in many instances. Maybe part of the reason many of our politicians are broken is because we don’t pray for them enough. Maybe politicians could be encouraged by our help. What I do know is that politicians definitely don’t listen to someone they don’t hear from.
Are there any biblical examples of people who have been involved in politics?
The book of Acts gives a clear reminder that David was both a king and a man after God’s own heart. “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22 (NIV) How could it be true that David was a man after God’s own heart and he was also a great politician of his time? Actually that is easy to explain. His politics were aligned with God’s politics.
John the Baptist spoke out against what was an unlawful relationship between Herod and Herodias. “Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Matthew 14:3-4 I suggest that this statement was indeed a political one, if we understand what politics really are.
God cares about justice. He cares about those who are oppressed and afflicted.
“Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.” Psalm 72:1-7
You can live out God’s word through politics
God is not anti-political. God embodies everything that is good about politics. His government is perfect. Where does that leave us? Here we are in this place called life and God has given us this thing called government. I believe there are many ways to live out God’s word through politics. Here are just a few for now…
- Peacefully speak up for what is lawful and good according to his word.
- Peacefully speak out against what is unlawful according to God.
- Pray for our nation’s leaders, specifically that they will live and govern according to God’s word.
- Vote for candidates who live according to God’s word, tell the truth and do what they say (I know it sounds impossible, but there are candidates who meet this criteria to at least some degree).
God called us to be the salt of the earth. He called us to be the light. We should let God’s light shine through us in all aspects of life. “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” Luke 11:33 What can you do politically to let God’s light shine through you?
What is wrong with politics?
There seem to be more and more believers who think that Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics. However, many of those same believers have no issue with Christians being involved in sports, arts, or other leisure activities. Why is that? What’s so wrong with politics? Let’s face it, politics is an ugly word. Are politics really the problem though?
There are probably a myriad of reasons why some believers feel anger towards politics. Allow me to list just a few reasons why I believe Christians don’t want to be involved in politics…
- Politics are temporary.
- We are only called to share the gospel.
- Politics won’t save the world.
- Politics can’t be changed by just one person.
- Jesus wasn’t political.
What is the truth about politics?
Okay, so the first point makes some sense to me. I completely understand that politicians have turned many people away from politics. Although, when did Jesus tell us to ignore those who anger us? I suggest that it is likely that some politicians are as corrupt as they are because they haven’t made God the lord of their lives. We should pray for politicians and even share the gospel with them if we have the opportunity to do so. We should also encourage other believers to run for office and become leaders of our nation.
Marriage is temporary. Pregnancy is temporary. Water baptism is temporary. Bible studies are temporary. Church services are temporary. Few Christians would argue that those temporary things are unimportant. So, why is it that earthly politics are unimportant?
Living for God is not just about salvation. Through salvation in Jesus we have eternal life, but God calls us to more than just sharing the gospel. Sharing the gospel is the most important step of faith we take in our lives, but it is not the only step. Jesus gave us the “Great Commission”, not the “only commission”.
Politics won’t save the world. That is correct, but that is not the purpose of politics. God established politics for our good (Romans 13:4). Should government obey God? Yes! Would that please God? Yes!
Yes, you are only one person. Noah was only one person. Moses was only one person. David was only one person. Paul was only one person. I look in the mirror every day and recognize that I’m only one person. God has used one person in many instances throughout history to bring about positive change. Stop believing the lie that says you can’t have a positive impact on our nation.
Did Jesus vote? Of course not, but nobody else at that time did either. There was no such thing as a Republic 2,000 years ago. Comparing politics in Jesus’ time to politics of today is not an apples to apples comparison. Jesus didn’t become an earthly king, but he didn’t need to. He was already king. His father had a specific purpose for his life that no one else had or has. That speaks to his eventual sacrifice on the cross being his ultimate gift to us. It doesn’t mean that he didn’t care about politics.
We do know that Jesus communicated with politicians. He spoke the truth and did not hide from them. Jesus stood for righteousness. He didn’t hide from political controversy. For example, Jesus overturned the money changing tables in the temple when he witnessed his house of prayer being turned into a place of money worship… “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” Matthew 21:12-13
Let it shine
God called us to be the light. Our light stops shining when we ignore or don’t care about significant aspects of life. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
There is a way to be involved in politics without being of the world. Stand for righteousness as Jesus did, so that non-believers can see your light shine through the way you handle yourself in politics. Is there a way to participate in politics God’s way? Has God told you to ignore politics or has he told you to let your light shine through the way you approach politics?
Is this life important?
The Apostle Paul summarized some of his thoughts on life by saying, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (NASB) This verse is sometimes interpreted to mean that this life isn’t important and all that is important is heaven. I talk to Christians about heaven and I sometimes get the impression that some of them would prefer to just skip this life and go there now.
Paul didn’t suggest that life is unimportant. He didn’t suggest that we stop caring about this life. His words were clearly an encouragement regarding this life and the next. Life for Paul was all about Christ in the things that he believed, did and said. He believed that his physical death would bring forth an even greater life in heaven in the full presence of Christ. Paul’s words about this life and the next should give us hope about both.
God is the creator of life. He created the heavens and the earth. He created the animals on land and in the sea. He created mankind beginning with Adam and Eve. It can’t be overstated that our lives are a gift from our creator. God created us to live for him and to be filled with joy. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
What about the next life?
God’s word declares that heaven will be indescribably amazing and better than anything we can experience on earth. As Paul declared in the new testament, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him…” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Our lives are so short in comparison to the time we will spend in heaven. However, the glory and eternity of heaven should not diminish the importance of our lives on earth. God never intended for us to give up on this life and only care about the next life. He wants us to care about this life, while looking forward to the next. Life can be difficult and God told us that we will face persecution in this life, but he never told us to give up.
We have a tendency to over correct our thinking when we are uncomfortable with the belief system of others. For example, if someone thinks that this life is better than heaven or that this life is all there is, we want to help them understand otherwise. That is a good thing. But in an effort to do so, we downplay this life in order to make heaven sound better. We think if we tell someone how bad this life is, heaven will seem like a better alternative and help them look forward to it. The truth is, this life doesn’t need to be sold short in order to make heaven look appealing.
Why can’t we have both?
Should we be excited about this life or the next? Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” We should take more time to look at the blessings in this life as the miracles that they are.
There are those who don’t have any hope in heaven and only care about what this life has to offer. We should want to help those people see that there is more than just this life, but not by downplaying it. God gave us this life. We should treat it like the gift that it is. Live for Christ in obedience to his word and look forward to heaven. God gave us this life and he offers us eternal life in heaven. We can have both.
What is wrong with our world?
You don’t have to look very hard or far to notice that there are many problems in our world. People are broken and in need of help. The problems that exist in our world lead many people to ask the same question. What is wrong with our world? There is a popular thought among many that there are too many bad things in the world.
There are a lot of different ideas on what laws are necessary for society to function well. It is a commonly held belief that by making something illegal, that thing will be diminished or all together go away. However, it can be argued that the “things” aren’t the problem. In many instances, making the “thing” illegal only makes it more appealing to more people.
A band-aid won’t stop this flesh wound
I remember several years ago when an employee of a company that I worked for cut his nose with a pocket knife. The company decided to ban pocket knives from all of its stores. Did the pocket knife ban stop employees from bringing pocket knives to work? Definitely not! Did the pocket knife ban stop people from cutting themselves? No, not at all. I witnessed employees cut themselves with box cutters on a few occasions after the pocket knife ban. The obvious morals to this story are twofold.
- Inanimate objects are not to blame.
- Banning things doesn’t work. Consider the prohibition of alcohol, as just one example.
Jesus never promoted the prohibition of things. God gave us free will to choose between right and wrong. At some point in the beginning Adam and Eve chose wrong (sin entered the world kind of wrong), but they had the freedom to choose. We are all sinners… “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (AKJV). However, God clearly gives us a choice between doing right or wrong. Instead of banning things maybe we should address the root of the issue, which is the heart of the individual sinner. The problem with our world and our nation is sin.
So do we even need laws?
Should there be laws in our nation? Of course we should have laws. Although those laws should be limited to allow as much freedom as possible, as God has done for us. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, not the 1,000 Commandments. Jesus made it even easier for us by summarizing the Ten Commandments into two. Do you remember the story of the lawyer of who asked Jesus about the great commandment and the law? “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matthew 22:36-39
God established government, but he didn’t make it complicated. God gave his people limited laws through Moses and an abundance of grace to us, which is declared in John 1:17… “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Laws are needed in society, but attempting to rid the world of things does not fix the problem of sin, nor does it work.
There is a solution to sin and that solution is life in Christ. Romans 6:23 declares, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As long as there are people there will be sin. We will never be perfect, but God calls us to be the salt of the earth. There will always be problems in the world and we will always be sinners until we meet the Lord in heaven. However, a relationship with God will help us to grow into being more loving and more caring towards others. Do you believe that other people can change because of the good that God has done in your life? How can you have a positive impact with others in regards to laws within our nation?