It is election time and you cannot help but feel the tension in the air. Social media is a buzz with statistics, information, criticism, all endorsing or tearing down the opposing candidate. It’s interesting how you can have two statistics concerning one issue with complete opposite results. As my statistic professor once said, I can hear his Asian American accent, “anyone can create a statistic to support their agenda…they just manipulate the data to give them the result they want.”
It seems to me the hostility has increased, the polarization between parties greater. There seems to be more animosity in politics than in previous years. Don’t get me wrong; people have always been passionate about their politics. But in this day and age people threaten to move out of the country if their candidate loses. We could argue the reason for this all day long. But, I’m not really concerned with the why, so much as the how. How should Disciples of Christ look in times of heated political debate? Is there a problem with pastors, ministry leaders, or Christians being political?
I think one of the problems with politics is there is a great danger in allowing our identity to become more wrapped up in our political candidate than in Christ. Matthew 5:16 (ESV) says In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. As people in ministry our number one objective should be to give glory to our Father who is in heaven, not our political party’s candidate. I think it is dangerous to so closely align ourselves with any earthly ruler, a sinner like the rest of us. We either demigod or demonize those running for president. We accuse them of being the solution to our greatest problems, or the reason for our greatest problems. But I know of only one solution to our greatest problem, (Jesus) and I know of the reason behind our greatest problem, (Satan).
When the Pharisees tried to frame Jesus as being anti-government or pro-government Jesus revealed He was neither. He said in Matthew 22:21 Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Should I vote? Yes! Should I be concerned with the country? Yes! Should I be concerned with social issues? Yes! Are Christians just supposed to ignore and not get involved in government or social issues? No! But we have to be careful how much faith and trust and hope we put in human agencies. We should do our part in our country; render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But most importantly we need to render to God what is God’s. Only God deserves our worship and adoration! Only God can ultimately change what’s wrong with this world. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Daniel is one of the greatest example of someone who had respect and loyalty to government, but did not worship that government. He lived through six different kings: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius the Mede. He lived under three different governments. However, it doesn’t take long for us to see Daniel’s philosophy on politics: Service to God first, service to government second. Daniel recognized that it is ultimately God that changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. (Dan. 2:22). After the great Babylon/Medo-Persian regime change you don’t hear Daniel saying oh I’m going to move out of Babylon because Darius is the new king, (given he probably didn’t have a choice) he continues to serve and shine God’s light. He seems to be just as concerned and influential in this new government as he was with the last. He has a quiet reserve and a deep dedication to God. Daniel knows that regardless of who’s the earthly king, Jehova is ultimately in charge. He had respect for the earthly rulers that God had set up but his ultimate loyalties were to God. If Daniel’s identity was wrapped up in the politics of Babylon, like ours so often is with our political parties, rather than in God. I don’t think we would’ve heard much of Daniel after the Medes and the Persians took over.
Finally, Jesus didn’t change the world by spending his time trying to change the leaders of the world. He changed the world by thrusting himself into the soil of human need. If you want to see greater changes in your society, in your world, in your ministry, don’t spend so much time focusing on the leaders but rather thrust yourself into the soil of human need like Christ did. That is how we change the world! Our greatest impact as ministry leaders will not be by pushing our politics, but by proclaiming Christ. This world will not be changed by making much of policies, but by making much of the Prince of Peace. History proves that governments, kingdoms, presidents, change. Change is inevitable in this life, but there is One who never changes. Let’s push Him more than our politics. Go vote! Just recognize that whoever wins, God is in control. He has a plan that is much bigger and better than any you will hear from a politician. Thank goodness for that!
Copyright 2012 Richie Halversen