I am thankful that I live in a society that allows its citizens to express their values and opinions for their country through elected representatives. It goes without saying that there are many other places in which we would be denied this basic, but highly important citizen’s right. Thank God for the freedoms we enjoy.
Yesterday, America voted in its mid-term elections. If you’ve watched any news at all, you know that the Republican Party made huge political gains across the board. I spent part of the day on-and-off watching election returns and listening to news people give their analysis. I also signed on to several social networking sites and blogs to get a feel of how people were reacting to the elections.
What I saw, heard and read is the reason I decided to comment on things.
As a Christian, I’m a little disappointed. . .
I’m not disappointed because any political party won or lost, but I’m disappointed in all the boastful and derogatory comments made by those who say they follow Jesus.
“We’re taking America back!”
“Now we’ll stop Obama!”
“Take that, Democrats!”
“I hate the Republicans!”
There were some comments that were just too “out there” to repeat. I didn’t realize that because Obama and the Democrats were in office the last two years that God had turned his back on America in judgement, did you?
I think it’s perfectly okay to get wound up about politics. Many people view politics in the same way they’d view a sporting event: There has to be a winner and there has to be a loser, “Go team, go!”
BUT, what we have to realize is that there is a theology to the political process for believers. That’s really the intent of this entire blog. I wanted to share a few thoughts on what I feel are some biblical considerations on politics, voting and the like:
1. Involving yourself in the political process is biblical. Though the Bible never says “Thou shalt vote,” it’s obvious that God intends for his people to be good citizens. Remember when Jesus told his followers, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17)? In this case he was speaking specifically about paying taxes, but in a broader sense he was speaking about our overall duty as citizens. It’s our duty as good citizens to involve ourselves in the political process as it affects our country.
2. Politicians are politicians and Jesus was not a politician. No matter what a political candidate promises, the likelihood of he or she following through on all his/her promises is very slim. We vote for the person whom we feel best represents our values and vision for the country. But, we have to realize that candidates most likely do not have the kingdom of God on their minds when taking office. That’s reality. Politicians are politicians: they are sinful and fallen like the rest of us, and they have an agenda that best suits their interests, as well as the interests of their donors/constituents. Politics is by nature a profession of empty promises, deception, grandstanding and power-playing, which are all things that are not very Christlike. This is not to say politicians cannot be Christians. They can and some are. We would expect our elected leaders to adhere to a higher standard or moral and ethical behavior – and some may – but you will most likely be disappointed by their behavior and decisions at some point.
Likewise, we have to realize that Jesus was not a politician. He never ran for office. He was far above the earthly political plans the people made for him. One of the strongest rebukes in the Bible is when the zealots, who wanted Jesus to become an earthly king, plotted to overthrow Rome and sit Jesus on its throne. What did Jesus do? The Bible says he rejected their political overtures (John 6:15).
3. Politics can shape some realms, but the spiritual it cannot. Here’s the part that really bothers me: I hear Christians saying things all the time like, “So-and-so is a Christian and if we just elect them to office, American will be changed.” Really? You really think that? If so, then you need to dose of reality. Causes like stopping abortion, feeding the poor and protecting citizens are good and noble and right. But the reality is this: politics will not save a single soul in eternity. Politics will not turn rebellious hearts towards God. Politics is not the gospel, only Jesus is. If you’re looking for Republicans (or Democrats) to advance God’s kingdom on earth, you’re missing the point.
4. Prayer and humility goes a long way. God tells us to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-6). God also tells us to be subject to the earthly leaders we’re under (Romans 13:1-3). In other words, instead of having a negative “I told you so” attitude, we should recognize that our leaders are ultimately there – like it or not – by God’s hand (more on this later). We may not like the president, or the Speaker of the House, or the senator, but we should be spending much more time than we do humbling ourselves and praying for them.
True story: I’ve been a Christian since the mid-1990s and I’ve visited many churches around the country. Out of all those churches I can only remember one that spent time as a church praying for their elected leaders. Coincidentally, the politician they humbly and fervently prayed for held values and beliefs that were as diametrically opposed to Jesus and the church as could possibly be.
5. God is in control. This is much more than a worn-out Christian catchphrase, but a way of life for those who truly embrace it. No matter who sits in office – liberal or conservative, pro-God or not – we’d do well to understand that he or she would not be there if not by the mighty hand of God Check out Romans 13:1-2 and Daniel 2:21. I often see Christians acting as if God’s will was dependent on which way the vote swings. We need to draw back and see a God who’s bigger than who is or is not in office and see a God who is sovereign!
In closing, I think we should view the political process considering the five points above. Maybe you agree with me. Maybe not. Maybe I left something out. I’d love to hear your thoughts.