This being a mid-term election year, with primaries in full swing, it seemed a good time to re-post a series I originally penned two years ago on believers in politics. Here is the first of four blogs I pray challenge each of us to consider our biblical responsibility as followers of Jesus and citizens of our towns and country. They are a bit longer than usual, as I hadn’t restrained myself to 900 words yet, but I hope the extra time is worth it. Please feel free to tweet and share them on Facebook. It is CRITICAL right now for Christians stand for truth in love to the glory of God.
A friend once shared she was no longer interested in her own opinion. Her comment stuck like a dart in my heart. She said she only wanted God’s opinion on things. His word. It doesn’t matter what she thinks, only what He thinks. It struck me as odd at first. Conjured up accusations of mindless Christians who can’t think for themselves. And yet, the truth of her conviction resonated within me.
Essentially, she was saying, “I am only interested in lining my mind up with the word of God.” It brings to mind 2 Corinthians 10:5, which says we should be “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” In an unrelated conversation, another friend expressed her deep appreciation for her pastor who exclusively preaches God’s beliefs, not his own. He doesn’t use the phrase, “I believe.” It doesn’t matter what he believes. It matters what God says. He’s the ultimate authority on all things.
Troy Bonin is a close friend of our family. He is husband to Terri, one of the most amazing women I know. The one who held my feet to the fire to finish my book. Our lives intersect numerous ways that have knit us together in friendship. He ran for state representative for District 3 in Texas in 2012, a huge undertaking for a normal “Joe Citizen” without a campaign war chest or politician’s resume. As with everything they do, his campaign was a family affair, for all twelve of them. Yes, twelve. Troy, Terri, and their ten kids (now eleven). I call that season of their lives “Ten Kids and Campaigning.” Sadly, they ran into a force field of apathy, people who just didn’t care anymore. People too wrapped up in their own busyness of life to take time for the greater good: public life. The who serves or represents and what that means further than the tips of our noses.
Personally, I have to be careful how much time I spend following world events, political and cultural issues. I can get consumed with fear and overwhelmed with trying to make a difference to the point of being frazzled or paralyzed, making myself rather useless to God. I get passionate quickly and have to keep myself in balance. Guard against seeking social change over spiritual change. This desperation and subsequent obsession birthed my book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His. In response to the outcome of the 2008 presidential election, I threw myself into a tizzy of activity that left me in a tailspin. God spoke clearly to me at that time: Our battle is not a political one aimed at electing the right people or passing the right legislation. It’s a battle for souls, and that has to be our first priority. Always. To be holy His by becoming wholly His. To be a vessel through which God shines His light and attracts others to Jesus. Truly, that is the only “agenda” that will save our nation. At the same time, we live in a nation whose government is set up to be dependent on citizen involvement through elections – either running, voting, or both. As believers who are in this world but not of it, what is our role?
When my friend asked me to consider writing a blog on political apathy among believers, I resisted. I feel strongly that this blog is not a political platform. It’s not a place for me to promote my opinions on political matters or advance any particular social agenda. It’s a place to share the application of God’s word to daily life. Yet, government is a part of our daily lives, especially as it encroaches further into every aspect of our freedom, family, and finances. I considered how I might honor her request, do my part to help their campaign, while preserving the integrity of this platform. And I came face-to-face with my ignorance of what God’s word says about government and politics. If I am going to write on the topic, I am only going to write what God says about it. What should our involvement be according to Him? I confess, beyond the scriptures that clearly establish authority as from God and our submission to it as non-negotiable, I had little idea what the Bible says about our involvement in politics.
So I’ve been doing a little research. Because I want to give you God’s word, not Shauna’s opinions and/or beliefs. I’m finding that the role of believers in government is a rather heated topic. And guess what? He is very clear on authority and the role of government, as He established it, but He doesn’t say anything specifically about our role in government or the political process. I haven’t found one scriptural directive about voting, running for office, or getting involved in social and cultural organizations, agendas, or issues. What do we do, then, when God’s word appears silent? When there’s no clear directive one way or the other?
Let’s start with what we know God does say about the subject.
Hands down, Romans 13:1-8 is the most commonly referenced passage on governing authorities, establishing clear responsibilities for those in and under authority. Paul says:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.
Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
It’s implications exceed a single blog. A broad brush stroke to guide us in the details of politics and government.
Lord, please convict us according to Your word as we become more wholly Yours, including life in the public square. Help us to stand for Your truth in love, a light in this dark world. Thank You for the Holy Spirit, our Helper, and the One who helps us with the boldness and words to say.
For the rest of the blogs in this series, see: