A Christian In Politics
The Bible is full of kings and politicians... David, Hezekiah, Daniel, Joseph, Ezra, Nehemiah and Mordecai the Jew were among the righteous politicians while Haman, Pilate, Ahab, Manasseh and Pharaoh were among the hard, corrupt or grandiose politicians. Some changed while in office. Nebuchadnezzar seems to have undergone a genuine conversion in Daniel chapter 4 - Daniel was influential there. On the other hand Solomon started out well but became old and cynical and tyrannical. He was turned aside from God by his foreign wives. So we can see that politicians are influenced by those close to them who can turn them in godly or ungodly directions.
This article is about "being a Christian in politics" while it mainly refers to party politics and government its principles apply to the "political situations" that face us in our work, our churches and our community interests. Where there are people there is politics and we need to learn how to handle it wisely.
The pressures of politics can either refine or corrupt people. In a way its a bit like being a pastor who is under constant scrutiny by the congregation - some put on a front and become hypocrites while others take on the scrutiny and become saints. Notable Christians involved in politics have included William Wilberforce, Oliver Cromwell, Martin Luther King Jr., and John Calvin who ran the city of Geneva as well as being a theologian. The pressures of politics seem to have had a positive effect on their lives.
How then can we know which group we are in - whether we will be corrupted or will be sanctified by the pressures that are brought to bear in politics?
A Christian politician must recognize Jesus Christ and Lord and Savior and as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He must know that Jesus will put an end to "the kingdoms of this world" and that only the Kingdom of God will endure. Furthermore the Christian politician must recognize that it is God who raises people up - not party officials or elections.
(Daniel 4:25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.)
A Christian contemplating involvement in politics must sense that it is a calling from God just like a call to the ministry. It must not be a "career" or an "ambition" because if you think of it that way you open yourself up to 101 temptations. If its a calling from God you can "stick to your guns" ethically. If its a career you tend to get pragmatic and start shifting your ground.
(James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.)
If your heart attitude is wrong the wheels will fall off your political career and instead of greatness you will experience "confusion and every evil thing".
You should not enter politics if you still have major unresolved emotional or character weaknesses. The Devil will find them and tear you apart in public. Far better to be humble in such cases.
(James 4:6,7 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.)
You should obey God's injunctions to kings in the book of Deuteronomy.
(Deu 17:14-20 NKJV) "When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, 'You shall not return that way again.' "Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.
These injunctions in Deuteronomy give a very good balance to any system of government. It is not to be foreign but "of the people", neither is it to be worldly and ostentatious (multiply horses) nor immoral (multiply wives). It is not to amass centralized wealth but to leave it to the people (greatly multiply silver and gold FOR HIMSELF), it is to be law-abiding and reverent and to study the word of God diligently if it is to prosper. Finally the king/politician is not to consider himself above his brothers. He is to be humble and as subject to the law as they are. Most Christian politicians that stumble do so at one or more of these points. These seven verses contain enough wisdom to keep the Christian politician substantially on track.
The Christian politician needs to be very careful of the company that he or she keeps. Some other politicians, businessmen and 'famous people' may be involved in shady deals or illegal goings-on that must be avoided at all costs. There are upright people that the politician can associate with and they should do so.
(1 Cor 15:33 NIV) Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
The Christian politician needs a very finely tuned sense of when it is appropriate to speak about God and how to do so. Many have ruined their witness by either going silent or by being angry and negative. Christians in politics witness best when they radiate a positive upbeat image and have a vision that is biblically-based and compelling. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream.." and "I have seen the promised land.." speeches were based on sound Christian values and imagery yet were positive and compelling and very influential politically. They were also an excellent witness to his faith and beliefs. Prayer can guide our speech - Nehemiah and Esther both prayed for guidance in what to say before the king and were answered with success.
(Luke 21:15 NIV) For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
There is a constant tension between political loyalties and loyalty to God. Christians are found in all political parties and this presents problems. No one political party has a monopoly of the truth or on the love of God. Three things need to be borne in mind here. 1) Your brother in Christ on the other side of the house may be speaking from God as well. There are often two sides to an issue and God may want both sides represented. 2) What you think is correct and biblical and what God thinks is correct and biblical may occasionally differ. 3) There is such a thing as Truth and it can be sorted through but on an issue by issue basis not on a party basis. You should only join a political party that allows you to differ with it on matters of conscience.
(Acts 5:29 NIV) Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!
There is another tension in how to deal with political opponents. There are three main camps here 1) You can attack your opponents but in a limited way 2) You can only defend, you can never attack. 3) You neither defend or attack. You remain"above such things". The third option just won't work. Political opponents will insist that you say something and silence implies guilt not nobility to most people nowadays. That leaves the first two options. If a Christian can go on the attack then it must be true, significant and in the public interest. Attacks over personal foibles or travel expenses are not worthy material for the Christian, a Christian must be sure of their facts and never operate on the basis of rumor. If a political opponent is corrupt, associated with major crime figures or completely unworthy in some way then it may be doing a good service to the people to expose that politician. If the attack does no good for the people as a whole, if it is purely a political maneuver then to my mind the attack is not justifiable. "What goes around comes around" and if you indulge in too many attacks they will be launched against you. Its best to avoid them.
(Gal 5:15 NIV) If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
The Christian politician needs to remember who his Master is and that God is in control of the agenda. God's agenda may be very different from that of the political party you are with or from your own agenda. His will may be for your party to lose the election. He may want you to do a term in opposition, a stint "in the wilderness". Let God be in charge of your political career. Man cannot put you where God cannot use you. There needs to be a constant, almost daily, surrendering of one's agenda to God.
(James 4;13-15 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.")
The Christian politician needs to know that he or she is in the midst of an intense spiritual war. Satan will do his worst to tear down or render ineffective the witness of the Christian politician and he is "the father of lies". In the Psalms David calls upon God constantly because of the political pressures in his life and they seem to have constantly driven him to his knees in total dependency. That is the right reaction. Christian politicians should guard themselves at all times, be vigilant, pure and prayerful and have a team of others that intercede for them.
(Eph 6:10-14 NIV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Whether your "political arena" is in government or pastoring a church or heading up a corporation you will need to handle internal conflicts with integrity and to resolve competing interests and agendas. Politics will arise and it is my hope that when it does that the ten principles outlined above will stand you in good stead. God bless.
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