Should Christians Be Involved in Politics?

A couple of years ago, a pastor with whom I am familiar stopped by to see me. During the conversation, he enthusiastically told me about a new book he was reading. The core premise of the book (which shall go unnamed in order to avoid giving it publicity) is that the church is losing twenty-to-thirty year olds in huge numbers because the church has lost its social relevancy. The book uses a lot of polling data to make its point, and one of the strongest negative responses from this age demographic is related to the church and politics. According to the poll results cited, these young adults are very turned off by any Christian involvement in the political arena. (I would dryly observe that judging by the type of questions asked in the polls, it appears what these young people actually oppose is conservative politics. Who woulda thought?) My pastor friend, like so much of the modern western evangelical church, has bought into the lie that making the Gospel “relevant” to modern culture is essential to reaching the lost and is especially important to winning the college age segment of the population. So, he was adamant about removing any references to political issues from his church. He has also removed the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit and any references to pending judgment, entering in by the narrow gate, etc. because modern young people don’t like these either. The truth is the modern church is largely irrelevant and boring to young people because they no longer preach the powerful biblical message of the Apostles and they present a candy-coated, homeboy Jesus who excites no one. But that is another topic for another day.

So the question is begged: Should Christians be involved in politics? A great deal of the answer is based on what is meant by “involved.” I know a good brother in Christ who becomes visibly agitated at any mention of politics in church. Last weekend I heard an anointed speaker give a sermon as part of a symposium that focused on biblical unity among differing races. The message was powerful, biblical, and challenging. This brother made the statement near the end of his message that in his view, Barack Obama was not any more wicked than Ronald Reagan. Based on the polar opposite views of these two presidents concerning abortion and other important moral issues, this statement is not factual to say the least. These are two examples of believers who are not involved enough in politics, or at least do not have a biblical perspective about politics and political leaders.

On the other hand I have another friend, also a Christian, whose theology seems to be based on little more than conservative politics. All his email forwards and social media posts involve bashing liberals. I don’t ever remember him including any scriptures in his rants. To listen to him, one would come away with the understanding that the Republican Party is going to save the United States. And he is not alone! I know many believers who are far more animated about politics than they are about the church, and who show much more passion about winning elections than about having deep intimacy with the One who will ultimately reign over the Nations. These are examples of Christians who are excessively involved in politics.

Frankly, I couldn’t care less whether the “occupy Wall Street” adherents dislike politics in the church. It is nothing short of spiritual adultery to blend pop culture with church doctrine in order to make “church” hip enough to attract unsaved twenty-to-thirty year olds. (James 4:4) As a matter of fact, there is a world-wide prayer and worship movement that is drawing sold-out young people by the thousands to places like The International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO as the biblical glorified Jesus is proclaimed to them in power and love. The boring and irrelevant organized church is responsible for losing the youth. But the issue of our involvement as Christians in politics is too important to ignore… or to draw the wrong conclusions. Let’s look at both extremes within the church and try to strike a biblical balance.

Anti-Political Christians

Believers who feel that politics have no place in the church are involved in at least two forms of error: Secularism, and ignorance of scripture. Secularism is the philosophy that the spiritual and the natural are separate, and that public education and other matters of civil policy (i.e. politics) should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element. Secularism has its roots in Greek philosophy and it is entirely unbiblical. It is idolatrous to establish areas of life where God is off limits. Secularism has crept into the thinking of many in the church, allowing them to live life claiming to believe in God while placing very little importance on submitting to His leadership or to giving His Word priority in all of their life decisions.

Ignorance of scripture can also contribute to a Christian’s aversion to politics. Far too many believers hold a world view that amounts to little more than getting through this life as best they can, all the while placing their hope on going to Heaven when they die. They expect to live forever in Heaven, possibly having their own “mansion.” There is most certainly a glorious expectancy of being present with the Lord when we are absent from this body. (II Cor. 5:6) But the biblical perspective is that Heaven is a temporary place for the saints until the Day of the Lord, when Jesus returns to this Earth to overthrow every wicked government, and to establish His 1000 year reign with His overcoming saints on thrones ruling with Him. This is the prophetic message of scripture from Genesis to Revelation, and the Day that Jesus is looking forward to with eager anticipation.

“Going to Heaven” is not the goal or destiny of the believer! This fundamentalist preoccupation with Heaven has replaced sound biblical doctrine regarding the millennial destiny of the Bride.  God’s purpose from the beginning has been to have humans ruling over His creation in partnership with Him. Beloved, ruling over the nations IS politics. Daniel’s visions of earthly kingdoms and Revelation’s promise of all wicked governments being overthrown IS politics. You can’t have an in-depth understanding of God’s end time plan for His Son to inherit the Nations, and for the Bride to rule over the nations with Him, and then claim that politics has no place in the church. Your evening news is nothing less than God orchestrating the nations and rulers of the earth into position for the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. Jesus is returning for a political, hostile takeover of the entire earth, removing everything that hinders love. This is the clear teaching of scripture.

Overly-Political Christians

There is a Misty Edwards song that says, “I pledge my allegiance to Jesus, to Jesus!” As Christians, we must be disciples of Christ first, before any other allegiance. We are, in the words of the symposium speaker referenced above, not to be Republicans or Democrats; we are “Bibliocrats.” In other words, our political views, activities, and voting record must be based on biblical principles. And an important biblical principle that is too often ignored by those on the Right is that Jesus is not all that concerned with the daily political squabbles of men. This is not to say that many of the issues we face, such as abortion, don’t matter to Him; they are quite important to His heart! But we must realize that the Kingdom of God does not rise and fall with human elections; on the contrary, the Word of God states that the Father Himself sets up and removes the kings of the earth.

Here is a shocking fact: Jesus grew up in an occupied country, yet He never addressed the issue of occupation even once. He never railed against Rome, the oppression, the taxation… no call to arms or rebellion. Should we conclude that He wasn’t grieved at seeing His Father’s chosen people in such bondage, or the land sworn to belong to Abraham held under the control of a violent pagan super-power? Of course not! But Jesus knew that all things would be reconciled at the appointed time and the appointed way. He understood that the war was spiritual, not carnal, and that the way to victory was in obedience to the Father. He was building a Church, against whom the gates of Hell would not prevail. Jesus is raising up an end-time army, but the weapons of our warfare are not guns and rockets; not political rallies or mass-emailing of politicians’ offices. Our weapons are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. We are armed with prayer, fasting, the worship of Him Who sits on the throne, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Our allegiance is to this spiritual army, not to political wings of a government.

What is the Balance?

I believe that as Christians, we have a responsibility to be informed about what is happening in our government and nation, so that we may pray with understanding. When I hear a Christian leader claim that he never watches the news because “the bible is all the news we need”, it makes me cringe. We need to know who in our government is upholding righteous values and who is not, so that we can pray accordingly. There is no nobility in ignorance. But I also understand that an obsession with political news can easily distract us from having a biblical perspective. If we become angry often when viewing news articles, then we are not focused on the right Kingdom.

I believe that Christians have a biblical mandate to vote, and to vote for the people who best represent the values of God’s Kingdom as expressed in scripture. Jesus taught us that we are salt and light. Voting fulfills important aspects of these influences on society. We should lay aside personal agendas and vote as the Lord instructs us. For example, a Christian must choose a pro-life candidate over a pro-gun rights candidate if forced to choose between them, regardless of how strongly we may feel about gun rights. Generally, conservative candidates are going to be the people who support the ending of abortion, the defense of the biblical definition of marriage as being one man to one woman, and who are more likely to support biblical positions on fiscal and social issues. Liberals, in general, oppose the ending of abortion and are more likely to bring a humanist, secular perspective to public office. Therefore, I believe that Christians have a biblical obligation to identify with conservative candidates and to support them in prayer and in the voting booth, regardless of how they were raised or how their friends or family may vote. It bears repeating that if we are God’s people, we must show allegiance to His Word first and foremost, not political traditions.

I believe that Christians should know and understand that the Kingdom of God is involved in politics, that much of the end-time prophecies deal with political issues, and that our destiny in Christ is deeply connected to political issues on the earth for eternity.

Should Christians be involved in politics? One way or another, we already are. The real issue is, are we involved with Jesus in politics?