Last time we saw that the key question we need to answer is this, “Is Christ Lord of our political views?” Are we living in submission to God’s Will and His way? Which means that our political beliefs must be shaped by the Word of God, not our wants. According to Gods Word, the primary purpose of the church is not politics but the preaching of the gospel of peace, Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” So the church must be careful that it doesn’t become known more for a partisan political stance than the preaching of the gospel. In this regard there are several things that the church needs to remember, first:
- Evangelism not political power is God’s primary means of dealing with the problems of the world.
When we forget this we fall into the trap of believing that the answer to sin is to promote a social gospel instead of the salvation gospel. Something many liberal theologians are preaching and encouraging people to practice in place of the gospel of peace today. Because the major problems of this world stem from sin in individual hearts, the only real solution is salvation, seeing people brought into a right relationship with God. Remember Jesus didn’t call us to go and win political races, He commands us to go and make disciple of all nations, Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We need sharing the story of salvation and keep the cross as our main focus. The cure for our country is found at the cross, not in civics. Our hope is in God and His gospel, not in political power.
- When promoting political candidates we need to remember the doctrine of depravity.
All candidates, even if they are Christians are fallen sinners who are susceptible to the lust for power and prestige. If we are not careful we can become overly enamored and blinded by a particular political party or carried away with a certain candidate. The church needs to be wise and not posture itself with a particular political party, whether Republican or Democrat. Because in truth neither party is thoroughly biblical, there is a mixture of good and ghastly in both parties. We must realize that candidates of both parties posture themselves to appeal to large blocks of voters, and just because they promote themselves as conservative, or focused on family values doesn’t mean they are or that they will uphold these values once in office. We need to weigh their walk, not just their words. When a party, or its presidential candidate endorses sin, such as abortion then a Christian in good conscience should not vote for that candidate. These are moral issues, not political issues. Our current president has appointed two Supreme Court justices both of which have ruled against Christian moral values. The reality is that the next president will appoint at least one, if not several Supreme Court justices which will probably tilt the Court in one direction or the other. These rulings can greatly affect our country, either for good or evil, as the infamous Roe v. Wade decision proves. Over 60 million lives have been snuffed out because of that one reckless ruling, that’s 20% of our current population killed by the court. So while the gospel should be our main priority, electing officials who will enact laws or appoint judges in line with Christian values is also important. While the gospel is our only hope for lasting change, God has also ordained that righteous laws protect our society. As a result, the relationship between church and state is neither one of total separation nor one of total identification.
- Because we are called to ministry to the whole person we should not neglect working for just laws
Throughout the centuries Christians have influenced governments positively and these changes have also facilitated the spread of the gospel. Some of these changes include outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire. Outlawing the gladiator battles in Rome, outlawing branding the faces of prisoners, as well as instituting humane prison reforms. Stopping human sacrifice, outlawing pedophilia, granting property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy, prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India and outlawing the crippling practice of binding women’s feet in China. The church was also instrumental in advancing the idea of compulsory education for all children in Europe, and abolishing slavery. So to say that preaching the gospel is our only purpose and that the church should not influence the culture through promoting just and righteous laws are both short-sighted and foolish. Often as the church has engaged in efforts to promote justice for the oppressed God has opened the door for the proclamation of the gospel. So the church should not be afraid to share with the state when it comes to matters of morality. We see this throughout the bible, in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament we see prophets calling kings to account, while both John the Baptist and Jesus confronted the religious and political leaders in the New Testament. We also see in the New Testament the Apostle Paul confronting Felix the governor, concerning righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Acts 24:25: “As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” Paul didn’t base his preaching on Felix’s response but on what was right. Felix feared the truth and backed away from biblical beliefs. We have a responsibility to teach truth and share matters of morality with those in leadership. Their response is their responsibility. But this brings up a difficult question: How far should we push Christian morality, legislatively in a secular society? This is a hard question to answer and certainly it can be taken too far. You see during the colonial days there were some states that punished people who traveled on Sunday. Even in the sixties there were stores in America that prohibited the purchase of certain items on Sunday. This may seem absurd but it begs the question how far do we go? The point is that the relationship between the church and the state is neither one of total separation nor one of total identification. We need to be involved in both preaching and politics, but preaching must remain our primary means of bringing peace to a weary world. So here is the question we Christians need to ponder, “Do I put more energy and effort into sharing my political views or proclaiming and preaching Christ?”