(Before reading this, it would be helpful to you to listen to or read the transcript of the sermon, "From God to Government", by clicking here.)
What is a group of Christians to do if the Lord leads them to a new land to start a new life as a new community? (If you know your history, such an historical group just came to mind. We call them The Pilgrims. For some brief history and to read The Mayflower Compact, click here to go to Wikipedia.) Should they sit back and say, "We'll sure be glad when some lost people show up so we can get some law and order around here"? Or should they say, "We, the church, are the law and order around here"? Neither one.
We should not think that people outside the Church are the only ones that should occupy the offices of government, and neither should we think that the offices of government are wrapped up in the offices of the Church. There should be the institution of the Church, with its own offices, and the institution of the government, with its own offices, both being ordained by God (Ephesians 4:7-16; Romans 13:1-7). The two should never be confused with each other. However, the two can and should interact with and affect one another. The Church can and should staff and inform the government, even while the government protects the liberties of the Church and holds it accountable to the common civil laws. Could there be some sticky overlap, with people being, at the same time, members of the Church and the government? Sure. But that is why, before God (Who is both Supreme Lord and Merciful Savior), we hold one another accountable to keep the roles of each clearly defined and to consciously act within those roles.
Understanding that, we must define what Christian involvement in government looks like--involvement in the institution and activities of government. We must think about the M&M's of our involvement: our maximum involvement, our motivation of involvement, our message of involvement, and our method of involvement.
OUR MAXIMUM INVOLVEMENT
No Official Lines
Adam and Eve ruled the world. Joseph was Vice-pharoah. Moses was basically the Prime Minister of Israel. David and Solomon were kings. Esther was queen. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego held high offices in a foreign power while under its power. Paul stood before Festus and Felix wanting to convert them, and made in-roads into Caesar’s own household.
Many say that there is no place in the New Testament that specifies the call to public office. There is also no place that specifies the call to be the president of a corporation, but we take for granted that God does lead people into such a position. Since governing authorities are God’s own public servants, as stated by Paul in Romans 13:4 & 6, does it not make sense that God would call His own people to serve Him in those sacred roles, even to the highest levels?
We should never hold an office that is immoral in and of itself, determined by what it oversees or works to accomplish. In Nazi Germany, no Christians should have been Nazi cabinet members or Nazi soldiers (many were killed for their refusal to join the Nazi party). If our government ever federally legalizes prostitution as another source of revenue, and forms a committee to oversee the business, no Christian should be the prostitution chairperson.
Our relationship with Christ should be the only designation that ultimately identifies us, not our offices and parties. Offices of government and political parties are means to an end and should never be ends in and of themselves. So, we should never take an office or belong to a party that would eclipse our identity as Christians. (Colossians 3:1-4) The Christian should never become the position, and the Church should never become the party or the government.
OUR MOTIVATION OF INVOLVEMENT
The Glory of our God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Mark 12:30; Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:1-2)
Our first motivation should be to glorify God in what He has authorized and instituted, not to be glorified in the pomp of the positions.
The Good of our Neighbor (Mark 12:31; Romans 13:4; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Jeremiah 29:4-7)
Our second motivation should be to do good for one another as human beings, not getting the goods that come with those offices. We should be about cultivating and maintaining an environment of goodness, in which people can flourish under the blessings of God, as well as cultivating and maintaining a force for goodness, by which we can spread the blessings of God.
OUR MESSAGE OF INVOLVEMENT
Our message comes right out of our motivation and can be summed up with Psalm 33:12. Let's glorify God in this nation so that He will lift us up in His blessings (see also Proverbs 14:34).
OUR METHOD OF INVOLVEMENT
If we fail in our methods, we forfeit our motivation and message.
Gracious (John 1:14-17; Titus 3:1-11)
We should be gracious in all our dealings with our fellow citizens of this nation, not cantankerous toward them, even if they disagree with us. Personal attacks are out of place and unacceptable for the Christian. We are not to compromise on the truth of the issues, but neither are we to use the truth as a club to beat others into compliance. Even our Holy God uses kindness to lead His enemies to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Ethical (Titus 2:6-8, 11-14; 1 Peter 3:15-17)
The ends do not justify the means for us. How we do what we do matters to God. Once gaining a platform, if someone can look at the steps we climbed to get there, and see that they are immoral/unethical, then we cut our own legs out from under ourselves.
Brothers and sisters, we need to stay involved and not abandon our society to the disgrace of godlessness. We need to pray for our Lord to lead us where He wants us and leave us where He wants us, taking His way for His reasons. Doing that, we can't lose.
Let us aspire to understand the times and know what we
(1 Chronicles 12:32)