Like many readers of Facebook, I have tired of reading about politics long after the last election was held. Each of us has a right to our political views and preferences, and each of has the choice to vote or not vote as American citizens. We are never going to agree on politics, and the history of politics in this country is ample proof of that. I have lived in or through 16 different presidents in office. As a country, we tend to vote one party in for two terms and then the other party for two terms. That says that as a nation we are not convinced that either of the main parties has the solutions to our problems.
As disciples of Christ, our focus must be on his kingdom over all other kingdoms. But since I live in the kingdom of America, I have a type of dual citizenship and some responsibilities and opportunities within each. In the United States, I have the responsibility to pay taxes, but no opportunity to avoid them legally. I have the opportunity to vote, but not the responsibility before God. It is a choice. If I choose to vote, I have to make a choice which party to vote for.
For starters, let me shock some of you by saying that I didn’t vote in the last election. Some are disturbed by that, but disturbed for different reasons. Some are disturbed because they assume that I would have voted for their candidate of choice. But what if I had voted for the other party? Then you would now be less disturbed that I didn’t vote! Others are Americanized to the point that they feel like I’m just not a good citizen of the US or I would have voted. Although I obviously disagree, at least I see your disturbance as being based on principle alone.
I’m not disturbed by those who voted for either party nor by those who did not vote. You have the right to do either, and I respect your rights. Please respect mine in this instance. My main concern is always going to be a matter of my primary focus as a disciple. I simply cannot become overly focused on the things of this world and please God. Stated more bluntly, I cannot become overly focused on the things of this world and be saved. This is a serious matter. We could make quite a long list of things in this life that can become too much of a focus, and it would include far more than politics. But it would include politics. Read the following passages and contemplate what they are saying to us:
1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
2 Timothy 2:3-4
3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
If our main focus is on the kingdom of heaven, and not on human kingdoms, how do we react to man’s kingdoms as citizens of them? The Bible makes that point quite clear as well.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
1 Peter 2:13-17:
13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, ⌊live⌋ as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.
In spite of all of these passages, Facebook is replete with those who claim to be Christians continuing to register their strong support or strong dislike of the party now in office, and especially the president of that party (and thus of our nation). I have, as many others have, selected the option to no longer follow those on my friends list who are consumed by politics. I still consider them friends and I love them, but I am concerned for them and will no longer subject myself to reading material that I don’t believe to be appropriate for disciples.
Sooner or later, we all have to decide whether we are going to allow our thinking and feelings to be governed by our emotions and human logic or by the Bible. Regarding the latter, even among those who claim to believe it and accept it as authority, the lack of really knowing its contents shows up all too often, especially when mixed with strong emotionally based opinions. Like it or not, everything that goes on in your life and mine, and in our world, falls into one of two categories. Either God allows something to take place or he directly causes it. We humans cannot know for sure if God’s active agency is involved or his inactive (yet allowed) agency in any given situation. But whatever the case, he is still in control. Many passages can be used to show this principle. Here are but a few among multitudes:
Lamentations 3:37-38: Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?
Daniel 2:21: He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
Daniel 4:17: The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.
When Nero was the Emperor of Rome, and both Paul and Peter were destined to be executed by his government, they still wrote that he should be obeyed. You may choose to reject what the Bible says and accept your human wisdom, but I am not about to do that. I may not like a lot of things that God allows, but since he is God, that is his business and not mine. Either God works all things together for spiritual good in the lives of those who love him or he doesn’t (Romans 8:28). Either he can or he cannot – and if the latter, the Lord of lords and King of kings is in that case subject to the power of human beings. That latter thought is perfectly ludicrous, but we each must decide if God is God and ultimately in control or not. I’m fully decided.
A couple of additional biblical thoughts may prove helpful. When Jesus started his ministry, his ability to do miracles astounded the Jews. They hated the Roman government and believed it to be totally godless and should be taken out of power at all costs. Their early reaction to Jesus wasn’t surprising. John 6:14-15: “When the people saw the sign He had done, they said, “This really is the Prophet who was to come into the world!” 15 Therefore, when Jesus knew that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.” Jesus had a different agenda than trying to straighten out the kingdoms of the world, as he made clear. John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”
Jesus spent his life, death, and all time since trying to get people to focus on the kingdom that lasts forever, his spiritual kingdom where our real citizenship must be as disciples. We can feel as the Jews did, that the prevailing government should be put out to pasture. The term “impeach” is being bandied about repeatedly. If God decides that our current president should come out, do we believe that He is capable of getting that done? If God has allowed him to be in there for a reason, do we really think we can do what we think should happen no matter what God is doing in the whole situation?
As a young preacher, I heard a popular older preacher say that if God didn’t punish America for her sins, he was going to owe an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah! I picked up on that and have repeated it through several decades, and during the whole time, our nation has been in increasingly moral decay. What if God has decided that enough is enough with the downward spiral of our nation’s sins and is going to use the current setting to deal with it? (A scary thought for us all!)
We have nearly lost all touch with the morality of the Bible in this country. The Nazis destroyed six million Jews over a half century ago and we are still talking about it. In the US, about one million babies are being killed in their mother’s wombs every year, and it is so accepted that few even discuss it anymore. Or do we no longer believe what Psalm 139:13-16 clearly says: “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know ⌊this⌋ very well. 15 My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all ⌊my⌋ days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.”
We could add many statistics to this one regarding the true state of sinful America, but the point is that we do not know what God is doing right not and we won’t know until it’s done. In the meantime, I suggest that we focus on the kingdom in which our true citizenship lies (Philippians 3:21), and let God run the world, our part of the world included. For those of us in the ICOC, we have prided ourselves in following the Bible as a whole and not picking and choosing what parts we would accept while rejecting the rest. But when it comes to the subject of politics, is this not exactly what we are doing? Honestly, I wish it was the only area in which we were doing this, but that’s another sermon for another day. Please, please, please deal honestly with the passages in this one article for now!