It’s the morning after Election Day here in the United States. Likely, by the time you read this your election results will have been known for several hours.
As believers, we have a blessed promise from the Son of the Living God: we are citizens of heaven.
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
We also must, “be subject to the governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1)
So, is there a balance to be struck?
We could completely dismiss political activity and allow the whims and passions of a decaying society direct itself into oblivion. We could also be active politically, engaged in the goings on of the same decaying society acting as light, as salt, and as a moral voice in an immoral culture.
The debate on the debate
There has been much debate on political activity. Societally, we seem to waffle between never discussing politics and arguing politics on social media with great zeal. On the one hand, we seem to have lost the art of dialoging with those of differing views. It is an art, and if we can’t engage folks on such things how can we politely engage them on the serious matter of eternity?
Some very prominent religious leaders in the U.S. have also taken very vocal stances one way or the other. You might think of Billy Graham and his son promoting political activity to maintain morality in the society. If you follow the U.S. vice-president, he also has promoted evangelical christians’ involvement in the mid-term elections.
Conversely, a leader from one of the mainline denominations wrote, “Nowhere did Jesus say, ‘Go you into all the world and strive to make it a better place.’” Spurgeon is often misquoted, “of two evils, choose neither.”
If one does some searching on the internet, you’ll find no shortage of christians who do in fact promote political activity to one degree or another. But should we be politically active?
I don’t just mean a consistent voter. I mean, should we be waiving the banner of a major party? Should we be attending political rallies or engaging in political debates?
In the beatitudes, the Lord Jesus declares His followers are both salt and light. Salt seasons, preserves and delays corruption. Believers, as salt in this world, can challenge the murder of the unborn. Believers can vote to restrict the use of narcotics or promote other political ideologies under the auspices of moral, holy living.
Light reveals what was once concealed. R.C. Sproul wrote,
God also instituted government for the safety and well being of the people who live in its midst. And the government has been assigned by God the responsibility of preserving, protecting and maintaining the sanctity of human life. … But in our time the separation of church and state has come to mean the separation of the state from God.
It is one thing to say the state is not accountable to the church, it’s another thing to say the state is not accountable to God. And when the state assumes its autonomy and declares its independence from Almighty God it is not just the right but the duty of the church to call the state to task: Not to ask the state to be the church, but to tell the state to be the state under God.
For a moment compare the difference between democracy and theocracy. Democracy has for its roots, the Greek words, demos (the people), and krato (rule). Theocracy has for its roots, the Greek words, theos (God), and krato (rule).
To quote Abraham Lincoln’s famous phrase, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Democracy then, posits that people are to be governed by a majority of the people, since we can’t seem to ever agree unanimously. The minority must give way so that majority can rule by its identified representatives for the good of all the people and not for the majority’s interests only.
Theocracy conversely is government by the immediate direction of God.
A Christian views the events and turmoil in the world with interest in the light of Scripture, but if he is wise and instructed, he stays focused on the service to which he is called and does not interfere with matters of the world. A Christian may or may not think that democracy degrades a man and that theocracy elevates him. So a Christian may cite, “honor the king.” and “let every soul be subject to the higher powers.”, thinking that he has quite fulfilled his political duties.
A third option
Daniel was a man in a high political office, yet he never once petitioned for a vote. In fact the opposite, he petitioned against human praise and authority.
John Piper recently spoke that Christians are free not to vote. The implication then is that a Christian is also free to vote.
Let me suggest that you can be politically active, or apathetic as a believer. We need to be reminded that our home is not here. That we pay taxes and reside in an earthly nation but our citizenship is in heaven, and we should act as ambassadors. We can vote with the moral authority of heaven.
Salt is a natural cleaner that works quietly. Salt creates thirst, ours should create thirst for the Lord, not a political agenda. Light makes no audible sound to the human ears. We let our light shine in our death such that the life of Christ can be seen in us.