Biblical Patterns of Spiritual Involvement in Government

I have heard much of my life that political involvement is a step down from the will of God for your life.  That mindset is at the heart of the problem.  The church has almost willingly removed their influence from the government – while at the same time, they complain about the verbiage of separation of church and state is not in the Constitution.  I agree that is not found there; however, we have given lip-service to the claim for far too long, it is about time that we step up and take action for the things that we believe in.

So, lets examine biblical examples of involvement:

Jesus

One of the best examples of how a Christian should relate to Politics and involvement is by looking at Jesus and his response to paying taxes.

“Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?  But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?  Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.  And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.  When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.”      ~ Matthew 20:17-22

By Christ’s response here, He was teaching them, and by extension us that there are two spheres of influence, one  being civil government and the other being the spiritual influence in the people of God’s lives.  Jesus was telling the people that some things, such as the taxes, belong to the government and are necessary to the function of the government.  He also establishes that other things are controlled by the church and the government should be hands off.

Under the law of the Old Testament, there was not a clear distinction between the two, because Israel was established as a Theocracy.  The only reason they ever had kings was because of the rebellion of the people from the way that God had established the country.  Here in the New Testament, Jesus was drawing a clear distinction between the two which would have implications for the rest of human history.  His teachings implied that civil government should give people freedom regarding their faith.

Daniel

Daniel is a great example because his influence on the government and the king was not the government or the king of the nation of Israel.  These were not the people of God that he was influencing.

“Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.”     ~ Daniel 4:27

Daniel here shows us that he is counseling the King…King Nebuchadnezzar.  He did not pander to the king and tell him what he wanted to hear, nor did he keep silent.  He spoke boldly and told the king to break away from the sins that he was committing and the sins of the nation – and to pursue righteousness.  He told the king to abandon his iniquities and the iniquities of the nation – and to show mercy to the poor.

At the time Daniel said this, he was an official in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court.  He was a ruler over the whole province of Babylon and the chief prefect over all the wise men in Babylon.  In Daniel 2:48, we see that Daniel was regularly at the king’s court; therefore, we can conclude that Daniel had great influence in the decisions made by the king.

John the Baptist

Matthew’s gospel records how John the Baptist stood up the the evil ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas, and rebuked him for the personal sins of his life.

“For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife.  For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.”     ~Matthew 14:3-4

John the Baptist was put to death because of his bold proclamations; however, he did the right thing.   He condemned the immoral actions of the leadership in his country and their wrongful governmental policies.

Paul

Another great example is the Apostle Paul.  While in prison he stood before the Roman governor Felix.

“And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”     ~Acts 24:24-25

It would be foolish to think that Paul only reasoned with Felix about the personal things in his life.  He surely reasoned with him about his influence in the government.  Felix trembled because of the judgement of God that was coming because of both areas.

We could look at many other examples including, but not limited to Joseph, David, Solomon, Mordecai, and Esther.

We have many examples in the Bible to prove with out any doubt that God not only wants, but even expects Christians to be involved in civil government.  That is not to say we should all be in office, but our voices must be heard.

Should Christians be Involved in Politics?

In the last few months, I have come under heavy criticism about my involvement in politics from many of my Christian friends.  It seems to me, and let me state that this is the perspective that I have gathered from the many conversations that I have been involved in, that many of my Christian brethren do not believe in a significant Christian involvement in civil government; yet, they somehow feel justified in criticizing elected officials and their policies.

In the onset of this post, let me start out by saying that I feel your level of activity lends to your credibility in talking of political matters.  Why is it that those who refuse to show up and vote are the very same ones who complain the most about the system being broken?  Quite frankly, it is my personal belief that gone are the days where showing up to simply vote is enough to keep our country free.  Christians have sat by for too long and allowed to process to pass them by…allowed policies to be put into place that are absolute in direct opposition to the Word of God.

The purpose of this blog is to take a look at what the Bible says about civil government, as well as the various issues that our country faces today.  I get many questions this time of year as to which candidates I endorse, or who I am voting for.  I will always answer these questions…however, it is my wish and my desire that all Christians would take a Biblical perspective in viewing each candidate…take the decision to their prayer closet, and vote for the person that lines up closest to the Biblical role of civil servants.

Now, please understand, there is a clear distinction in the Bible between the works of the church, and the works of civil government.  In the posts to come, I will examine how God’s servants were often involved in civil government – even in cases of evil rulers.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.  For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.                 ~Romans 13:1-7

 

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:  As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.  Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.     ~1 Peter 2:13 – 17

These two aforementioned passages are two of the clearest texts found in scripture that teaches Christians about their involvement in civil government.

Before I directly address the teachings of these texts, let me say this, I believe that God desires and even calls some Christians to run for office and to go inside the government and to implement policies that line up with the Bible.  The church for some reason stopped encouraging believer to be inside of government some years ago, and yet, we seem surprised that God has been removed from our schools and courts…that abortion is legal…that socialistic policies and programs are being implemented as the law of the land almost daily.  We’ve silenced our voices, so why should we be surprised that the minority extremist view is being shouted louder than anything else.

In many cases, government officials do not know the Word of God.  In order for them to enact policies and laws that line up with the Word of God, Christians must make their voices heard.  If Christians throughout history would have held their peace like the churches of today do, slavery would never have been abolished…racial inequality would still be the law of the land…abortion would have continued in the Roman empire…the Magna Carta, The US Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution would have never been written…property rights, voting rights among other rights would have never been granted to women, among many other advances in public policies through out the ages.

We cannot sit idly by and complain about tax policy…we must apply Biblical principles to change it!  We cannot gripe about unemployment…we must use the Bible to fix it!  If we believe the Bible is the final authority in all faith and practice (and let it be known, this author does!) we cannot simply rely on that Book for spiritual answers…the answers for all areas of life, including, but not limited to, good government, are found in the pages of that Book!

If we keep silent, if we do not allow some of our to run for office, America will fundamentally change into something it has never been, and was never intended to be.  Christians, take a stand for your country today.

So, how can you be involved?

I am not saying that everyone should go to the level that I am and that I plan to go to in the future…but every Christians should at the very least do the following:

  1. Pray for your elected officials.
  2. Learn what the Bible says about responsible government and the issues, and then vote accordingly.
  3. Encourage every believer to do the same.
  4. Be in contact with your elected officials to make sure they hear the Christian perspective about any policies they are soon to vote for.
  5. Help politicians who do closely align with Biblical principles get elected and stay in office.

A quick story, and I will end this post.  A few years ago, I lost my job as a Christian School teacher because of some failed policies of the former governor in my state.  I took a year and prayed about how to move forward.  Then I met with my state Assemblyman…shared my vision of how to improve education in this state.  He would have never known my ideas as a Christian educator had we not sat down and had that conversation.  This year, I had the privilege of addressing the floor at the state convention.  Now I have the governor, the lt. governor, several senators and many assemblymen who have rallied to our side.  Come January, my law will go to the floor of the statehouse.  If it is put into law, it will drive my state from being 44th place in the nation in education, to the top.  The principles of good education are found in the Bible – but I had to go and articulate them so that the government officials would see them from that perspective.

What could we do…what could we change if all Christians made their voices heard in this upcoming election?

Until the next time…God Bless!