I remember the election.
This was democracy, so when the muckraking started, people chose sides. Each of the candidates presented himself as “a man of the people,” entirely confident they were better suited for office than their opponent.
The campaigns commenced, full of catchy slogans, rousing speeches, and posters plastered all along the major thoroughfares. The campaigns also came with division among friends, passing judgment on opposing opinions, and dreams of power and personal glory. It seemed to drag on for ages before voting day actually arrived.
But eventually, the time came to cast the votes. And I lost. I gave it my best shot. I wanted to be Vice President of the Spanish Club at Webb City High School, but the people elected someone else over me. Adios, amigo. Now what?
Aren’t you glad we never have to feel that with grown-up politics? Ha.
My failed attempt to be elected as a Spanish Club officer was only a slight foretaste of the confusion and chaos to come with real politics. Have you ever felt this? How are we as Christians to view and participate in the political realities of our time? Thankfully, the Bible gives us some pointers on healthy political activism.
God has established governments as earthly authorities to restrain evil and promote good (Romans 13:1). It is wise to participate in political activism to help influence the government to do the maximum amount of good (Galatians 6:10). God even instructed His children who were exiled in Babylon to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
Throughout history, Christians have taken political activism seriously and have changed the world for good. Christian activists have been the catalyst for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, the gladiatorial games, human sacrifice, pedophilia, and polygamy. Christians have been the driving force in abolishing worldwide slavery, putting an end to racial segregation and discrimination, and establishing the first colleges, hospitals, and orphanages. So get involved! Write letters to government officials. Volunteer for worthy causes. Vote. Political activism is one way to shine God’s light into a dark world.
However, political activism can quickly become a “counterfeit god.” When we put our trust and hope in governments and people instead of the sovereignty of God, we miss the point of political activism. Scripture is full of examples of people letting politics become an idol. (1 Chronicles 21:1-7; Isaiah 7:1-17; Mark 15:15; John 19:15) As Christians, we are called to put our hope in God. So how can we participate in political activism while ultimately remaining submitted to the power of God?
1. Go to the King on behalf of the king.
The best kind of political activism is prayer. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
2. Walk the road of unity and truth.
Jesus has called his church to stay unified.
(John 17:23; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:3; Colossians 3:13-14; 1 Peter 3:8)
Jesus has also called His church to seek and speak the truth about God and how to live the Christian life. (Psalm 43:3; John 8:31-32; John 17:17; 1 John 3:18)
At PCC, we seek to live the truth of Scripture while also prioritizing unity in the body of Christ. In politics, we are often around people who love Jesus very much and are seeking to follow Him in truth, yet hold different opinions than we do. We must give grace, trust, and freedom to our brothers and sisters without letting petty conflicts divide us. “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love.” Let this be true of us.
3. Submit to authority (human and divine).
As Christians, we are called to be good citizens. We are commanded to submit to the governing authorities, whether or not we like it (Mark 12:17; Romans 13:1-7). Remember, the government Paul is commanding the church to submit to is an evil one under the Roman Emperor Nero.
So although we are called to submit to the people in authority over us, we are ultimately called to submit to God. If those in authority over us ask us to disobey God in any way, “we must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29)
4. Be the church.
God’s plan to save the world isn’t through governments. The world is saved by Jesus Christ working through His church. (Matthew 28:18-20; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 2:9) So as Christians, our job is to overcome evil by doing good (Matthew 5:13–16; Romans 12:21). Are you bothered by the problems our world is facing? The solution is Christ working through us, His Church.
5. Hold onto hope.
No matter who sits in the Oval Office, God still sits on His throne. He does not belong to any nation. He is not shaken by any election. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and we pledge our allegiance to Him. So we’re going to be just fine in the end. (1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Isaiah 9:6; 40; John 16:33; Romans 8:28-39; Philippians 3:20; Revelation 21:1-22:6)
Our hope does not come from Capitol Hill or the White House. Our hope does not come from super PACs, elections, lobbies, leftists or rightists. Our hope does not come from a courtroom, but from the throne room of the Almighty God. Political activism is good and influential, but ultimately…In God We Trust.