Politics and Seeking God First in Our Community
In case you've happened to be fortunate enough to completely avoid any television, radio, internet, newspapers, telephone, coworkers, or family members in the past year and a half, there is an election going on this year. And it is a contentious one at that. You may be voting for one candidate or the other, you may be voting against both candidates. I can't imagine, but there may be people out there that like both candidates so much, they can't make up their minds.
Our politics can be shaped by our religious perspectives. As a result, many times, we can equate our political perspectives as morally right and those opposed as morally wrong. I feel that way often myself. Besides, no one feels that their own political opinions are morally wrong. This often can put up walls between ourselves and those in our community. If there is a wall between us and our neighbor, they may have a hard time seeing us pointing towards Christ. Let's keep a few things in perspective when we think about our politics.
CHRISTIANITY IS THE RELIGION OF THE SPIRITUAL PILGRIM
Pilgrims are those that wander in a land not their own on their way to their home country. When you read the New Testament, Christianity is always assumed to be the minority religion wherever it was. Jesus himself said in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world."
The book of Hebrews uses the faith of the patriarchs to paint a picture of the perspective we ought to have. It says "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had the opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." (Heb 11:13-16)
God promised to make Abraham a great nation. He set aside that nation as a remnant, and gave them a law to teach them what sin is, what holiness is, and how to stay in a relationship with Him. The nation that that law ruled over was a foreshadowing of the homeland waiting for us in heaven. Unfortunately, too many in that nation, their confidence was in the physical aspects of that nation; military, politics, and wealth. God eventually gave them over to invading armies that removed them from the land God gave them, so that they could once again know what it was like to be a pilgrim away from home.
Many of us, if we're not careful, can put our hope and confidence in our governments to be the moral compass that we want it to be. If we do, we will be constantly disappointed. Proverbs 14:34 correctly states that "Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people." Unfortunately, we have very little power to control that. All we can do is remain a part of the remnant, persuading those in our community to join us in being the "salt of the earth" (Matt 5:13), that preserves this land we sojourn in from its ruin.
VOTING IS A PRIVILEGE
We have in our constitution a bill of rights that prohibits the federal governments from taking away certain liberties from state governments and from individuals. I am so thankful for those rights. I'm thankful that I have the freedom to express political opinions without being thrown in jail. I'm thankful I have the right to protect myself, my property, and my family. I'm thankful that we can all worship as we see prescribed in the bible without a government interfering. I'm thankful for the many other rights that we have such as being able to select representation within our government and therefore being able to indirectly participate in decisions that are made.
All that being said, this is not the way things have been throughout most of the world, throughout most of history. I'm under no illusion that an invading army can't come in and remove these rights from us. they can remove the weapons we have. They can forbid us from expressing our opinions. They can take away our right to vote. They can even make our worship against the law, forcing us to worship in secret. If a new government comes in, we must submit to it to the extent that it doesn't keep us from submitting to God's will.
"HONOR THE KING"
1 Peter 2:13-17 sums up perfectly the relationship that we should have with our government and those in whose land we live in. Keep in mind that Peter is speaking in a time when the government had become involved in persecution of Christians. "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.