When I was an aspiring seminary student, my dad offered much advice regarding church and ministry. I always listened to what he had to say. After all, he had been very active in our church, serving as a deacon and Sunday School teacher, as well as on any number of various committees. He even led music in a church “outpost” (we met in the Odd Fellows Lodge) in Caribou, Maine. After he retired, he worked as the facilities manager for our expanding, growing church. He had, as one might say, some “street cred”.
One of the things my dad told me was to never mix church and politics. At the time, it seemed a pointless statement. I certainly understood the pitfalls of combining two institutions. Both could be characterized as areas that were deeply personal and impassioned. But, I was studying for the ministry…not running for political office. I didn’t see, at the time, the application.
I do now.
For the past several weeks, I’ve led a discipleship class at our church based on the book Politics According to the Bible. Like the book itself, the intention of offering the class was to learn what the Bible had to say about government and political issues. After all, as Christians, we are simultaneous citizens of two kingdoms – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. Yet, we must remember to view all of life through lens of the Bible, especially our politics and the issues.
In the process of leading, studying, researching, and observing, I’ve settled on a few conclusions:
1. God is sovereign. As I read God’s Word, and believe it is completely true and authoritative, I find throughout its pages that God is sovereign over his creation, even the nations, its rulers, and its citizens. Not only that, but I read and believe that God’s will and purposes will be accomplished. In everything that happens in the kingdom of this world, I must trust that God is in control of it all. (Isaiah 40)
2. Government has been instituted by God and is meant for good. Government is a good thing. It is meant to be a helper and is a divine instrument to accomplish God’s purposes. It is a blessing for those who do good, and it is to be feared by those who do bad. (Romans 13)
3. As a citizen, I must pray for our nation. As an institution created by God, I must pray for my nation, its leaders and its people.
4. As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, I must view everything through his Word. Because I am human, I am also a sinner. I am daily mortifying my own sin – my selfishness and my pride. Because of that, I must see every issue, every person, and every event through the Scripture. I cannot let irrational arguments and impassioned opinions be elevated above the Word of God.
5. Love. Regardless of political party, stance, preference, or attitude, I must daily “love my neighbor”. At no time can I express hate towards someone because of their opinion or preference. Every conversation must reflect love and respect, even in intense disagreement. And, remember…just because I disagree doesn’t mean I hate.
6. As a Christian in the kingdom of this world, I am to seek to use “significant Christian influence” in the government of this nation. My view of this world is filtered through God’s Word. Every issue and relationship must be affected by what God says in Scripture. In the very least, I can vote for those who I feel support biblical views.
7. Trust God. In every political action and decision, I must trust that God is working his purpose. Whoever is elected, it is the person that God will use to accomplish his will. Whenever political issues are decided, I must trust that God has a plan and a purpose.