November 11, 2008

A Christian Approach to Politics

Posted in Devotionals, Prayer Request at 4:00 am by Sarah Bosse

Here are some of my notes (taken in scribbles with invented abbreviations, which I will translate for you!) of a message by the same title presented by pastor Phil Sasser of Sovereign Grace Church in Apex, NC during Saturday’s Singles meeting.  I have also added some additional quotations from Scripture to back up the main points, as I cannot remember everything that was said.

 

As we consider the outcome of this election, what should our response, as Christians, be?


*  Be good citizens.

In the Bible, the disciples were identified by their citizenship.  Paul was a Roman citizen, and he appealed to his Roman citizenship in Acts as a means of protection from punishment from the tribune without a trial and verdict.  Up to the time of 400 A.D., Christnas were model citizens and lead by example in their communitites through caring for one another.  As Christians, we are first to be citizens of the Kingdom of God, and Americans (or insert your national identity here) second.  If there is ever a conflict between a Christian’s citizenship to God’s Kingdom and our national citizenship, we must put our citizenship to the Kingdom of God and obedience first.  Being a good citizen also includes the action of voting and using the influence God has graciously granted us within our country to promote positive change and affect laws and policies for the sake of righteousness.

*  Praying for leaders and those in authority.

1 Timothy 2:1-4, 8

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. …. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling….

*  Submitting to leaders and those in authority as unto God (unless the Bible’s teachings are very clearly opposed to the following of a particular rule/law that one in authority is requiring).  

Romans 13:1-7

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Paul was not writing this passage during the rule of a gentle Empiror.  In fact, he was writing this passage during the rule of Nero, who is known for some of the most haneous and hiddeous atrocities upon mankind.  “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nero”  So Paul, who was also eventually martyred by Nero, knew exactly what he was speaking of.  He made no exceptions, as though submission depended on the godliness of the present governing authority.

*  Oppose evil in our country.  

How?  By voting, influencing public policy, being active in the cummunity and government, and doing all such things with the truth and grace of Jesus Christ living in and through us.  Know the times and be well-informed.  In the end, love your neighbor (no matter how much you disagree) as yourself.

*  Pay your taxes….honestly.

Refer back to Romans 13:5-7, above.

Matthew 17:24-27

24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

Matthew 22:15-22

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

*  Caring for the poor and sick.

Although the church at large in America has admittedly dropped the ball here, it is nonetheless the Church’s responsibility to care for the poor and the sick.  It’s a calling we would do well to take seriously.  Throughout Scripture, we see that God cares for the poor, the sick, and the widdows.  We want to reflect God’s heart.

James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

See 1 Timothy 5 for the instructions Paul gave to the church regarding how widows were to be cared for.

Psalms 82:3-4 

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

This is a psalm of Asaph, a prayer for the will of the Lord to be accomplished.

Psalms 68:5-6

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

*  We cannot look at the United States as though it is Old Testament Israel.  

There is no emphasis in the New Testament to force the world to conform to the lifestyle that reflects a Christian worldview.  Christians are called to be “set apart,” “consecrated,” and different from the World.  We do not have the right to impose a Theocratic state.  

*  Proclaim the Gospel.

Christians may face the temptation of becoming distracted by social issues and trying to change the World.  Instead, our focus should be on proclaming the Gospel and living as a prophetic statement to the World.  The Gospel must be presented in its fullness.  Keep the Main Thing truly the Main Thing.

The Take-Home

At the end of the day, our hope is not in our president, our leaders, our government….  Our hope is in God alone.  Our citizenship is in Heaven first, and the King of Heaven deserves our hope and trust.  God brings rulers to power – they rise and fall by the movement of His hand.  Who can stay His hand or hinder what the Lord has done?  We need to put our trust back in God.

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1 Comment »

  1. Mike Harmon said,

    Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.


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