In the UK, a general election is in the offing and some Christian organizations have started a campaign, called “Christians In Politics” to encourage individual Christians to get involved and “make a difference”. They say there is a biblical precedent for this, citing Esther, Daniel and Joseph as examples. Church leaders have recently been quite vocal in the media about the role they believe that Christians can (and should) play in UK politics.
There are some major flaws with this reasoning.
The first is that none of those three examples were Christians, they were Jews. Secondly, they were each used by God in a direct and specific way to bring about His will and purpose. They did not decide to “get involved”; that decision was taken for them.
If we turn to the New Testament, can we find other examples that the organisers of this campaign could have used to illustrate the point? Significantly, there is no example of a Christian supporting a political leader or standing for office themselves. Some say Judas was politically motivated, but that was something that later the betrayer of Jesus deeply regretted!
So why is this, why aren’t there any Christian politicians in the Bible?
A Christian’s Purpose and Priorities
The simple answer is that Christians have other things to occupy them; living their lives to Christ, loving the Lord, preaching and helping one another. All these will help prepare them for the life to come, which is much more important than this present, fleeting one. As the Scriptures say:
“you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:4 NKJV).
We have a limited time in this life to share the Good News with others and to make our “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) – that is, to live our lives in a way that may find approval when Christ returns. That certainly doesn’t leave much time to get involved in politics! What is more important; a human election or Divine election?
But that is not the only reason for Christians to avoid being involved in politics.
Fallible human Rulers
The Bible says:
“[It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:9 NKJV)
“Do not put your trust in princes, (nor) in a son of man, in whom (there is) no help.” (Psalm 146:3 NKJV)
We can take “princes” as representing all human rulers, so God is telling us that it is unwise to rely on them to change things for the better. When you think about it, Mankind has had thousands of years to solve life’s problems and yet things seem to be getting worse!
It was recently quoted on the radio that the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population have more than the remaining 99% put together. In other words, at least half of the world’s wealth is owned by only 1% of the population. There are doubtless many well-intentioned and principled people in politics, but they do not win out against vested interests and corruption.
Separation from the World
Christians must remember that they are to separate themselves from the affairs of this world, not get ensnared in them (2 Corinthians 6:14).
In the letter written by James he says:
“…..do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
And Jesus said:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36 NKJV)
And we should not overlook the fact that Jesus himself deliberately avoided getting involved in politics, as we read in John’s gospel:
“when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by himself alone.” (John 6:15 NKJV)
What the people in the time of Jesus failed to understand was that the Kingdom of God would not be brought about by gradual change through the efforts of Man. Building Jerusalem in “England’s green and pleasant land” (as the Women’s Institute’s favorite hymn puts it) is not what Scripture tells us to do. Rather, we should be preparing for the return of Christ to establish his Kingdom of God on earth, with its capital in the real Jerusalem. That is the message of the Bible – the Good News of the Kingdom that will replace human government completely.
God is in control
The Kingdom of God is something God himself will create. The Bible indicates that it’s going to happen soon, but not as a direct result of any change of the government in the UK or any other country. The next government may be better or worse that the one it replaces, but whatever the result of the election it will be the outcome God intended:
“(God) changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them…” (Daniel 2:21)
God is in control and is working out His plan and purpose, so it would not be wise for Christians to involve themselves in politics and possibly end up in opposition to God. Nobody knows which party or faction God wishes to win the next election, so how can a Christian vote and be sure of being on God’s side?
However, Christians should always be respectful of the authorities, because God has put them there:
“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.” (Romans 13:1 NKJV)
“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,” (Titus 3:1 NKJV)
But this does not mean that Christians have to be involved.
History shows us that when the Church started to get involved in the State – and vice versa – the Church moved away from its reliance on the the Bible for direction and became influenced by human ideas. By the time the Emperor Constantine was “converted” and Christianity later became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the rot had already set in and many unscriptural teachings concerning the Nature of God, the Kingdom of God, the nature of the Soul had already been made official Church doctrine.
A better government is coming!
Some might say that if you don’t vote, you get the government you deserve. In the UK, less than half the voters get the government they want. In the last election, no-one voted for a coalition, but that’s what they got. If there is no authority except from God (Romans 13:1) then we must accept that God has permitted that government to be put in place and there must be a reason.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
“And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17)
Bible prophecy and the “Signs of the Times” given to us in the Bible all indicate that Christ’s return may be imminent, at which time all human governments will be dissolved:
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2:44)
So Christians need to concentrate on being ready when Jesus returns, not get involved in a political system that will eventually oppose him when he appears.