We may be living in the most politically charged time in the recent history of the United States of America. In one sense this is a good thing: we should be awakened to the moral decline in our country and the events leading to such. However, God’s people can sometimes be so engulfed in the present political turmoil that it becomes unhealthy spiritually. For many, nothing is more important than who will occupy The White House.
Christians should be politically informed, but our greater concern must be, who will occupy the throne of our heart (Mt. 6:24)? In example, the Israel of old that had fallen into idolatry time and time again. The favorite sin of Old Testament Israel was idolatry (Jer. 2:11). We may not bow down to idols manufactured from silver and gold, but we should beware lest we bow down before the gods of political platforms.
Politics and God’s people
There have been those throughout scripture who have been involved in politics in a healthy way with the approval of God. Government even exists because God ordained it (Rom. 13:1-4). In the Old Testament, Joseph served in Egypt as second in command only to Pharaoh himself (Gen. 37:37-53). This led to the preservation of Abraham’s seed and the furtherance of God’s redemptive plan (Gen. 50:20). Furthermore, Nehemiah served as a cupbearer for the king in Persia and used his position to allow him to help rebuild Jerusalem’s wall (Neh. 1:11; 2:1-8). Esther was queen in Persia, and her willingness to speak up in the face of danger saved Abraham’s seed from total annihilation (Est. 2:16-17; 7:1-6). Likewise, Daniel served in a prominent role with several kings (Dan. 1:19-21).
Though the governments that these individuals served could hardly be called godly, they could make a difference and use their influence to the glory of God. The Christian is not prohibited from being involved in government. However, the Christian is not to become consumed with such matters (2 T im. 2:3-4).
God’s people relied on politics in times past, and it angered God greatly. In Isaiah’s day, the people were looking to Egypt for strength instead of God. God let them know that such was in vain (Isa. 30:1-7; 31:1-4). Hanani rebuked king Asa for trusting in the king of Amram, instead of the Lord who had previously granted His people victory over insurmountable odds (2 Chr. 16:7-9). The problem was, Israel believed that if these strong nations were behind them, then they would be successful. Israel trusted in the political defense of foreign nations instead of the faithful defense of the Lord (Ps. 105:26-45). The Jews in the days of Jesus were so blinded by politics that they rejected Jesus as king, and claimed allegiance to Caesar to carry out their wicked deeds (Jn. 19:13-16). The people of God sometimes have had a positive role in politics; but at other times have failed to see that strong political agendas cannot bring salvation. Only the God of Heaven can (Ps. 3:8).
Politics as God
There is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). There were those who feared that if Jerusalem fell it would be the end of the world, and there are those today who fear the fall of our nation may plunge us into despair. Christians must be careful not to allow politics to devour the time that God has given us to do his will (Eph. 5:16). If we are watching the news around the clock and reading every news account about every political story, this leaves little (if any) time to meditate on the things worth our energy (Ps. 1:2; Phil. 4:8).
When we allow politics to drive us to such bitter anger against our brethren because they support another candidate, we have elevated politics to an unworthy height (cf. Eph. 4:26-27). The passion and conviction with which many Christians speak during the election year is astounding as such conviction and dedication is virtually absent concerning their faith throughout the year. When friends and neighbors hear us speak more about who needs to be in office and who needs to be out of office than about who needs to be in Christ, they may draw some logical conclusions about what matters most to us.
Politics becomes our god when we think about it constantly, allow it to shape our behavior towards others, and permit it to rob us of the joy of being a child of God. We become like what we worship, whatever that may be (cf. Ps. 115:1-8). Many bow before the god of Democrat or Republican, unaware of the fact that false gods always disappoint. When the hour of trial comes, the idols men have hoped in can never rescue (Pr. 25:19). Those who lean upon anything but the Lord will find out that they have invested foolishly in a cause that will not help them in what matters most..
It is not a sin to vote or be involved in politics. Voting is a matter of conscience and one’s own judgement. No brother or sister in Christ should get guilt-tripped into voting or harassed for abstaining by a fellow Christian (cf. Rom. 14). The truth is, politics does matter. Who is in office will influence how we live here and the future of this nation. Yet, Christians must be assured that the kingdom of which we are ultimately members will never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44). Politics often operates based on fear, but we walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). It is not that we are not concerned about how things turn out in our country, but we know that our God is not handicapped by who occupies the White House (cf. Jer. 32:27). God upholds the world by his power, and he sees his people who are standing for righteousness. Though the trials in our country seem as if they will crush us, the church must be reminded that the God who delivered in the past and delivers in the present, will deliver in the future, come what may. God rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan. 4:25), but the kingdoms of men do not rule God or thwart his plans in anyway.
Christianity is set up in such a way that the things which truly matter most cannot be taken, but only surrendered. Even if the coming American regime takes our freedoms, they cannot take our God and our faith (2 Cor. 11:10). If we are imprisoned for preaching Christ, we will find ourselves in the good company of our spiritual forefathers (cf. Acts 16:25). We live in a time when God’s people ought to stand up and stand out, but not be overwhelmed by the things taking place in the world. Our citizenship is in heaven and our Savior is as well; we should look for a Savior in the same place that our eternal citizenship resides, not here on earth (cf. Phil. 3:20). Some put their trust and concern in politics, but we need to be those who remember the name of the Lord our God (Ps. 20:7).