Q: “There is a big debate as to how much a Christian should be involved in politics. There are those who say we must avoid any involvement, while there are others that state we have responsibilities as citizens of America. I was wondering if you had anything to add to this discussion that might bring some needed perspective to it.”
A: I have heard both sides of this debate through the years and have drawn my own conclusions by the principles and examples clearly brought out in Scripture. My first indication that I had a responsibility to be informed and involved when it came to the politics around me was Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Clearly, political leadership greatly affects our own spiritual well-being, and when I realized that the likes of Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, and Paul challenged, warned, and rebuked wicked leaders of their day, withstood their foes in high places, and continued to stand in spite of the hordes of hell that came against them, I could not accept the idea of being some conscientious objector that claims immunity from becoming involved with anything that has to do with government.
We are in the world, and we know we are not to belong to it but we can’t sit back in our pews or on our self-righteous laurels and ignore the fact that, that which ails every aspect of this world is of a spiritual nature, not a political one. The world is a big war zone, and we are in a battle with an unseen realm. We are called to be soldiers that understand the real battle and we must ready to stand and endure the rigors of the battlefield (Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 2:3-4). Remember wars can be political, patriotic, moral, or spiritual. When it is political it is often motivated by money and power, when it is patriotic, it can be motivated by sentiment, when it is moral it is often motivated by conviction, but if it is spiritual, it is a matter of commission and calling. For the Christian, the war we are in is moral as well as spiritual
Consider the examples of the Bible. We had Abraham who took on an invading army in Genesis 14 to get his nephew Lot back with all of the people and spoils of Sodom, and later in Genesis 18, he was entrusted with the position of intercessor as he stood in the gap for Sodom. I see David being placed in a position of soldier and king and we need to remember that we are priests and kings in the kingdom of God (Revelation 1:6). I see a Daniel who was placed in key positions in two Gentile empires, Babylon and Medo- Persia, so that God could bring about His desired plan for Israel. When it came Esther, she risked her life to stand in the gap for Israel, realizing she had been put in such a position for such a time (Esther 4:14-16).
The Church is the only one in the world that is ordained and entrusted to speak to the heart and soul of man, as well as to moral practices of societies, and political environment of nations. This is why when it comes to our relationship with the world, we are to be ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven to the world (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). We are to promote “good-will” on behalf of this kingdom. However, this good will can only come because we have a ministry of reconciliation where we point man to our King, our Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
The people who settled this nation were seeking religious freedom. They set up governments to ensure the moral fabric of society. Even our founding fathers realized the importance of seeking God in light of the political environment. In the Revolutionary War there was the “black robe brigade” of pastors that left their pulpits and fought and died to ensure religious liberty for all. There were different times when presidents and governors called for collective prayer and fasting for the society and nation to seek wisdom from above to endure troubled times such as in the case of Lincoln and the Civil War. And, not long ago even in our halls of Congress nothing was done or decided without first opening in a prayer that sought the blessings, wisdom, and intervention of God (Providence) on all that was done.
Let me say, it amazes me that some people of the world have more of an understanding of how much the unseen aspects of the spiritual realm affects the condition of our homes, societies, and nation, while those who are part of the “church” excuse away all political involvement, and yet claim to hold the key to salvation that has been made available to the whole world by the love and grace of God. Meanwhile, how many of them have secured themselves in some religious hull, shut away from what is happening, while everything around them is falling apart at the seams. This includes their own sanctuaries (homes) and societies. No wonder Jesus stated that the children of the world are wiser than the children of light (Luke 16:8)
The world is a great harvest field and to believe we can sidestep, ignore, or remain indifferent to the demonic systems and corrupt politics without it affecting the moral and spiritual fiber of our lives and those of Jesus’ sheep is ludicrous. To think we can remain silent when that which is evil is robbing us of basic rights to simply live our life in accordance to our religious convictions, while it promotes a culture of death and destruction, killing the innocent, and destroying souls and lives can be ignored and our inaction is somehow acceptable to God, is delusional and reveals a dangerous indifference.
Like Paul who was a citizen of Rome, we have certain rights that we can use to ensure the integrity and furtherance of the Gospel. In fact, Paul used his citizenship to testify of his faith before the likes of King Agrippa and Caesar. If we are hiding in a place of indifference, how will we ever be ready to stand before whoever and give a true account of the hope in us (1 Peter 3:15)?
One of our rights is to vote for people who we perceive would uphold our basic rights to stand for truth and worship the God of our choosing without fear of persecution. If we divorce ourselves from such rights, we will neglect our authority and credibility to stand against that which, up front, spiritually threatens our homes, society, and nation, and eventually we will find those evils breaking down our doors to take everything away from us that we possess.
A pastor who saw the evil of fascism take minds captive, oppress, silence, or kill any opposition, and slaughter six million Jews stood against the evil spiritual cancer and lost his life over it. His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He made this statement that still echoes in historical annals, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”