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Query for the Month

of November 2000

Politics and Christians

 

Next up-date: December 1st (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

 

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

What does it mean to "be led by the Spirit"?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!

 


Query:

John 18:36

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence."

Should Christians get involved in politics?

 

Response:

The best answer to this question is probably found in chapter 13 of the letter to the Roman Christians. They lived right at the heart of the world's government, among a people fanatical in their patriotism. Because of their union of church and state any deviation from the laws of pagan Rome was seen as a direct assault on their gods, and was therefore punishable by death.

Yet Roman citizenship was highly valued, even by Christians, because of the privileges it brought with it. Acts 22:24-29. But there was a price to pay for it - each citizen was expected to vote and take an active interest in the government of the empire. So God set out for them (and for us today) just how they should act in such a predicament.

Romans 13:1-8

Let every soul be subject to the higher powers [of this world]. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God [the weapon of God, i.e. the powers that be]: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.

Will you [as a Christian] then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to you for good [to protect you]. But if you do that which is evil [or criminal in his eyes], be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil [in this world].

Wherefore you must needs be subject, not only for wrath [fear of punishment], but also for conscience sake [because you love him as God’s appointed (ordained) minister].

For this cause pay you tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law.

We must be subject to earthly governments, for conscience' sake; and for this cause also we must pay taxes and perform every duty of that nature that is laid upon us. They may be heavy, and even unjust, but that does not warrant us in rebelling. We live on earth under their physical protection and must do what they ask of us where it does not conflict with our heavenly King's rules.

Although we must obey the rules we are not to take any part in framing them or in the selection of men and women who do it, for God's kingdom works from a different base. Christianity works by freeing men and women from their natures and forgiving them for their sins - the world works by suppressing the natures and punishing the crimes - and never can the two harmonise.

A Christian trying to set up laws on the worldly system would face an overwhelming conflict of interest because of its reliance on the use of force to gain its control, and a worldling trying to fit in with Christian principles would find it impossible because he cannot "turn the other cheek".

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he that believes with an infidel?

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate", says the Lord, "and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters", says the Lord Almighty.

The apostle James speaks to rich men who oppress the poor, and his language applies just as much when they are in public office as when in private life. He says:

James 5:5-6

You have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; you have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed the just; and he does not resist you.

Mark this, the "just" do not resist. Why not?

Because of the injunction:

Romans 12:18-19

If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord."

As subjects of the King of peace, and citizens of His kingdom, we are bound to live peaceably with all men while here on earth. Hence we cannot fight even in self-defense. In this, Christ the Prince of peace is our example. He went to the cross without resistance although the sword in Peter's hand showed that some would have fought for Him. Luke 22:38.

Yet politics is all about fighting. Most of it is for selfish reasons - some for the good of the group, some for the good of the individual - but it is fighting. If the Christian cannot fight for himself, nor for his LORD, then he certainly cannot fight for another human being. He must leave it all in the hands of his LORD, who, when He was approached regarding a matter of this world's law replied, "Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you?" Luke 12:14.

"As much as lies in you" means as much as Christ is in you. Did He fight while on earth? No. Then if He is fully in you then you will not fight at all either! "If it be possible" is there because sometimes men will not accept pacifism and will fight you regardless of your behaviour, but you do not have to fight back. Our LORD said,

Matthew 5:38-39

You have heard that it has been said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth": but I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Only the evil workers are afraid of rulers. Well-doers have no fear. This is not because all rulers are good; for we know that many are not.

The broad empire of Rome filled the world, and the one who ruled it when Paul wrote to the Romans was the most vile and cruel of all the monsters who ever governed it. The emperor Nero put men and women to death for the mere pleasure of killing them. Well might he strike terror to the hearts of men; yet the Christians living in his palace could be calm, because their trust was in God.

Isaiah 12:2

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.

Paul also wrote to the Roman Christians, "Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loves another has fulfilled the law." Verse 8.

Therefore, since he who loves his neighbor from the heart must also love God, and love is the keeping of His commandments, it is evident that the apostle has set forth in this advice the whole duty of man. He or she who heeds this command can never do anything for which earthly governments can justly condemn them, even though they be ignorant of their laws. The Christian who fulfils the law of love will never come in conflict with the powers that be through his or her own behaviour.

So, if they oppress us, they are fighting not against us but against the King whom we serve.

The true Christian will be distinguished from the false in the last days by just that point. They will not resist nor try to force their views upon others. It is their privilege to show the difference between Christian and worldling for all the universe to see. 1 Corinthians 4:9. When the religious laws of the last days are first brought into existence they will be obeyed by Christians as much as possible just as any other law will be. Not until they prohibit God's law will they be refused, and then not because they are directed against us, but because they deny the right of our God to control our lives.

Some have supposed that verses 8-10 of Romans 13 define the limit of civil authority, and show that governments may legislate concerning "the second table of the law," but no other portion of the law of God. Two things kept in mind will show the fallacy of this:

(1) The letter is not addressed to rulers, but to individual Christians in the church at Rome, as a guide for their private conduct. If the duty of rulers were here laid down, they, and not the brothers and sisters, would have been addressed.

(2) "The law is spiritual," and consequently none of it is within the power of human legislation.

Take the commandment, "You shall not covet;" no human power could enforce that, or tell if it was violated. But that commandment is no more spiritual than the other nine. The language is addressed to the brothers and sisters, and the sum of it is this: Live in love, and you will wrong no man, and need have no fear of any rulers.

The remainder of the chapter is devoted to encouragements that need no comment. Their special force is derived from the fact that "the end of all things is at hand" for them as well as us. Therefore we should "be sober, and watch to prayer." Although living in the night, when darkness covers the earth (Isaiah 60:2), Christians are children of the light and of the day, leaving off works of darkness.

Those who put on the Lord Jesus Christ will not themselves be seen. Christ alone will appear. To make provision for the lusts of the flesh is most unnecessary, since the flesh ever seeks to have its lusts gratified. The Christian has need rather to take heed that it does not assert its own power, and assume control. Only in Christ can the flesh be subdued. He who is crucified with Christ, can say, "I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20.

And in that case he or she will conduct themselves towards rulers and private persons just as Christ did, "because as He is, so are we in this world."

Conclusion:

Politics is Satan's way of ruling this world. Because Christians are foreigners in this world, ambassadors for heaven, they cannot take an active part in its system.

Although we must obey the rules of the community in which we live, we are not to take any part in framing them or in the selection of men and women who do it, for God's kingdom works from a different base. Christianity works by freeing men and women from their natures and forgiving them for their sins - the world (both secular and religious) works by suppressing the natures and punishing the crimes - and never can the two harmonise.

A Christian trying to set up laws on the worldly system would face an overwhelming conflict of interest because of its reliance on the use of force to gain its control, and a worldling trying to fit in with Christian principles would find it impossible because he cannot "turn the other cheek".


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.

 

Spiritual Dictionary:

Christians and politics:

Politics is Satan's way of ruling this world. Because Christians are foreigners in this world, ambassadors for heaven, they cannot take an active part in its system.

Although we must obey the rules of the community in which we live, we are not to take any part in framing them or in the selection of men and women who do it, for God's kingdom works from a different base. Christianity works by freeing men and women from their natures and forgiving them for their sins - the world (both secular and religious) works by suppressing the natures and punishing the crimes - and never can the two harmonise.

A Christian trying to set up laws on the worldly system would face an overwhelming conflict of interest because of its reliance on the use of force to gain its control, and a worldling trying to fit in with Christian principles would find it impossible because he cannot "turn the other cheek".


Next thought. To be discussed from December 1st 2000.

 

"In all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren." Hebrews 2:17.

"In all things"! It does not say, "In all things but one." There is no exception. He was made in all things like as we are. He was of Himself as weak as we are; for He said, "I can of My own self do nothing."

But how can this be?

Surely Jesus was free from hereditary corruption or depravity and
actual sin, and He had no evil propensities or inclinations.

These are things we all have as humans. So is there an exception? Was Jesus made in all things like us EXCEPT he did not have hereditary corruption or depravity and actual sin?



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