If there is anything that will spark a spontaneous debate, if not an outright argument, it is a discussion involving politics. Even among believers, not everyone agrees on the same thing. As followers of Christ, what should be our attitude and our involvement with politics?
For many countries, it has been said that “religion and politics don’t mix.” But is that really true? Can we really look at the government without taking into consideration our Christian faith? The Bible gives us truths regarding the Christian stance towards politics and government.
God has His hand in politics, and puts those in power for a reason. Romans 13: 1-3 says "Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you."
This is echoed again in 1 Peter 2: 13-16, which says “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by Him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” There is no doubt that our responsibility to government is to obey the laws and be good citizens (Romans 13:1–2). God has established all authority, and He does so for our benefit.
Always Put God First
Though we are told we should respect our leaders, we cannot forget who our ultimate leader is: God. God permeates and supersedes every aspect of life. It is God’s will that takes precedence over everything and everyone (Matthew 6:33).
In fact, it is God who “sets up kings and deposes them�� (Daniel 2:21) because “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Daniel 4:17). What this means is that politics is merely a method God uses to accomplish His will. Even though some men abuse their political power, meaning it for evil, in the end God means it for good, working “all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Acts 4:18-19 tells us of a time where leaders spoke to Peter and John and told them not to share Jesus. "Then [the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law] called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, 'Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.'" While we are told to respect our leaders, we have to understand that the choices they make might go against God. In these situations, we have to listen to our ultimate leader. Peter echos this in Acts 5:29, where he says “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
At the end of the day, God is our true ruler. Isaiah 33:22 reminds us of this by saying "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is He who will save us."
Pray For Our Leaders
The Bible calls on Christians to respect our leaders, and one way we can do so is by praying for them. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 tells us “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
We Have to Pay Taxes
Though no one likes to pay the government, the Bible actually tells us it’s a part of our duties. Romans 13:6-7 says “Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.”
The church’s unique, God-given purpose does not lie in political activism. Nowhere in Scripture do we have the directive to spend our energy, our time, or our money in governmental affairs. Our mission lies not in changing the nation through political reform, but in changing hearts through the Word of God.
However, maintaining a godly society requires that Christians become involved to some degree in politics. Whether it’s by praying for our leaders, exercising our privilege to vote, or actually holding a political office, Christians should be concerned about how their government is run and their society ruled.