I got an interesting email from one of our readers a few days ago that I wanted to throw out for discussion. Stan, who works through his own site at Atheism-Analyzed posed the question of how we as Kingdom Citizens are to engage in the political systems that we live in here on this side of eternity. I’ll paste his question below, give a couple of responses myself, and then turn it over to you to think about and then respond back to if you like. Here you go . . .
“Jesus did not take any action (that I am aware of) toward changing local political structures, as onerous as they were in his day. So what is the responsibility of Christian residents of the Kingdom, when the American part of the kingdom is in danger of becoming totally controlled by non-Christians, in fact antagonists of Christianity? Are we to fight it, girded with biblical armor, as “Christian Soldiers”? Or are we to focus totally on evangelizing, ignoring the political power gains of the enemies of religion, as Jesus did?”
Well Stan, you’ve asked a question that has been on the table for a long time for a lot of folks. I have even wrestled with it myself. It’s a good question and especially relevant in America where citizens have the ability to run for office if they choose to which is different for other Christ followers who live in places like Saudi Arabia. If you’re looking for some biographies of folks who have lived this, you might check out Dietrich Bonhoeffer who is one of my heroes. Bonhoeffer had to grapple with these issues while working through his faith in Nazi Germany. While I believe he was a serious and committed Christ follower, I also believe he went too far in the wrong direction by being involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler.
But here are a few pointers to start with:
- As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to submit to the governing authorities unless we are directly commanded to disobey God. Note: Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13-15.
- We are to pray for those in authority. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
- We are to seek God’s Kingdom first in all we do, which is really hard for patriotic Americans. (or Texans)
- We have freedom in Christ to run for office or not. We live by Faith and if our conscience compels us to directly get involved in the political system, then we must do so with the utmost of ethic.
- We must not judge fellow believers on how they chose to fall on the issue. We all answer to Christ as the judge.
- We need to understand that ultimately, only a changed human heart will last and not political systems.