It seems like our society has made everything political. Our sports, schools, businesses have all become politicized. Politics consumes our social media. Even the coronavirus pandemic became a political matter. Politics are destroying our country. It has gone beyond hateful rhetoric to violence on our streets and even an attack upon our capitol. What concerns me most, is that Christians are being caught up in these things. It is bringing division in the church. It is causing some to put more faith in men and political parties than in God. It is distracting us from and hindering us from carrying out our mission in this world. It is important that we do not allow the current condition of our political world to keep us from fulfilling our purpose to glorify God and cause us to lose our souls. So, let me remind us of some vital truths in God’s word to help us deal with the political divide in our country and its effect on the church today.
The church is not political because our God transcends all political rulers and all their politics. Psalms 33:10-12 “The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” This was not just a promise to Israel of old but is also a prophecy of the greater Israel, the church of Christ which consists of people from all nations of the world who have given their allegiance to Him as Lord and Savior. The church, not America, is the chosen generation, the holy nation, God’s own special people (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Our future is not dependent upon who is in the White House or what political party is in charge of our country. God is in control!
“The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Dan. 4:25). Read Daniel and you will see that is what God taught king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, as well as the emperors of Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. All would be destroyed in time, but God would establish an everlasting kingdom, the church, in the days of these kings. Jesus promised, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mat. 16:18-19). The church of Christ is that everlasting kingdom (Col. 1:13; Heb. 12:28). Read the Revelation and see how Rome would persecute the church unto death, but Rome would fall, and the church would survive. In the end every faithful Christian would reign victorious with Jesus!
The strategy of the early church was not to get the right ruler in power. They made the stupendous claim that He already is. Jesus is risen and ascended at the right hand of God and sits on the heavenly throne (Acts 2:33-36). As Paul declares, Jesus Christ is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15).
The church is not political because our citizenship in heaven transcends our citizenship on earth with all its politics. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phi. 3:20). We are now “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” but we “desire a better, that is, a heavenly country” (Heb. 11:13, 16). We must submit to the governing authorities here on earth but when there is a conflict between the two, we must obey God rather than man (Acts 4:18-20; 5:29). Our first allegiance must be to our heavenly country, not our earthly country.
Christ chose both Matthew who worked for the government of Rome and Simon, the Zealot, who wanted to overthrow Rome, to be His apostles. Their allegiance to Christ was greater than their politics and they followed Him. He brought them into the same kingdom, a greater and better kingdom, the kingdom of God, the church of Christ. We all have been brought together in the one body of Christ, His church, when we were baptized into Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-29). As citizens of heaven, we must not let our political opinions come between us. Our fellowship must not be determined by our affiliation to a political party but by our allegiance to Christ and His church.
The church is not political because our mission transcends all the political platforms, campaigns, and agendas with all their politics. Our mission is to preach the gospel of Christ and make disciples of all nations (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). Our mission is not to engage in political debate, propaganda, and rhetoric but to preach the word of God’s grace, the gospel of Christ, the word of God to the saving of souls (Acts 20:35; Rom. 1:16; Jam. 1:21). Our mission is not to make someone a democrat/republican, liberal/conservative, right/left politically but to make Christians. It is not about one political party/candidate/policy or another but Christ and His church. It is not political but biblical. It is not of men but of God. It is about the truth. It is about the eternal salvation of souls. It is to make all people disciples of Jesus Christ. This far transcends the politics of our day. In the end it will not matter how many we win to our political preference but how many we win to Christ will be of eternal consequence.
Our mission will not be accomplished by the government through politics but by the church through the preaching of the gospel. Jesus was not a political leader nor political activist. He did not lead His church in protests blocking the streets, rioting, and looting, or in an insurrection against the Roman government. When the Jews asked Jesus about the coming of His kingdom, He said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21). The Jews were looking for Him to ride into Jerusalem on a white horse with a great army to destroy their enemies, but He came on a donkey to be crucified at the hands of the Romans that He might pay for our sins and be raised from the dead on the third day. He did not come to conquer nations and replace their rulers; He came to conquer sin and to give us eternal life. As somebody once said the kingdom of God does not arrive on Air Force One.
Peter learned this the hard way in the garden just the night before when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. “And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus [Peter – John 18:10] stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.’” (Mat. 26:51-52).
This is what He taught Pilate when He was being tried by him: “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’” (John 18:36-37). Truth is not determined by CNN or FNC, Antifa or QAnon, Biden or Trump but by Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).
Hear what Jesus taught His people: “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 5:9-10). “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (v. 44).
Jesus’ apostles, Paul and Peter, both teach us to submit to governing authorities, respect and honor them, and pay them taxes (Rom. 13; 1 Pet. 2). Paul teaches us to specifically pray for those in high places: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). He also commanded us to “fight the good fight of faith” not politics (1 Tim. 6:12). Not with carnal weapons but with the weapons of God: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). We are to wield the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (Eph. 6:17) in order to convict, persuade, and move others to submit to King Jesus.
So, let’s keep spreading the gospel to a lost world, church! Let’s get excited, enthusiastic, zealous, involved and stay involved; work hard for and generously contribute to this cause. Be a Christian, a follower of Jesus, an example for others to follow. Make Him known in your every word and deed. Become His hands and feet to serve a lost and dying world. Speak the truth of God’s word boldly. Change hearts and lives for eternity.
I am not saying that we should not engage the politics of our world but only that we do not get so caught up in them that we compromise our faith or begin to put our faith in them. You can vote, register with a political party, hold political office, serve in the military or in law enforcement as an agent of the government, but only do so as a Christian. Our politics should not be our faith and our allegiance to Christ should not be equated or conflated with our allegiance to our country, our politicians, our political party – our politics. There is only one Savior, Jesus Christ, of one nation, the church of Christ.
So, what will be our response to what is happening in our world? Will we worry and complain or fully trust God and continue faithfully in every situation, even in the face of persecution and death? Will we pick a side, jump into the muck, post propaganda, and spew political rhetoric that makes us look like people of the world, or will we see all the chaos as an opportunity for us to help a hurting world to find what they need most -- Jesus? Will we become divided over the issues of this world or choose to be united in declaring what is most important, the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, remembering who we are and whose we are and who we are to be, instruments and ambassadors of Christ, who share the gospel with all people?
The church is not political. We do not invite you to sign up for any political party nor do we tell you for whom to vote or what policies or laws to support. We preach Christ who died for our sins, was buried, and raised from the dead the third day. We invite you to come to Him and be added to His church, to give yourself to Him, to follow Him who can save your soul and give you eternal life.