The 2016 United States Presidental election is indeed an historic election. We could say that every four years is an historic election. Every election becomes more historic, yet more disappointing, fearful, and evil. Christians endure greater pressure that voting is their solemn, moral duty before God. Dread grips their hearts as the moment of truth in November draws ever nearer. The greater good is to choose yesterday’s Satan over today’s greater Satan. Does the Bible offer us a solution to this madness?
If the Bible indeed tells us how to handle these fiery situations, will we allow it to step on our toes a bit? How about drop a ton of bricks and flatten them to pancakes? We Christians who name the name of Christ and claim that the Bible is our authority for matters of faith and practice, could we let our own Scriptures challenge our long-held traditions and break our hearts of stone?
The great irony of political Christianity
Politics create factions. Factions create conflicts. Conflicts create wars. Wars create hatred and death. Such is the way of the struggle for power. Those who believe that the world can only thrive or improve by coercion ultimately believe that the sword (or the threat of the sword by a ruling elite) is necessary to force their way of life on others. We would expect such behavior from people who do not know salvation in Jesus Christ, but unfortunately Christians get caught taking sides in political struggles for power that detract from the real war Christians should be fighting:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
— Ephesians 6:12
We let interests of nationalism cloud our interests as ambassadors for Christ (2Co 5:20). We let people who are not devoted Christians and do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ teach us good versus evil. We let media personalities, political party establishmentarians, and rock star politicians who are rotten to the core define Christianity for us. Instead of reading the Word of God for ourselves, we filter our faith through the teachings of those involved in the great political wars. Even pastors of churches suppress the truth of a pure Christianity and become shills for politicians who are far from the truth.
The great irony of political Christianity is that Christians will speak the Word of God from one side of their mouths and contradict it out of the other–all in the name of political expediency. The Bible is rife with truth and virtue that we Christians boldly proclaim, but our political heroes get a pass. According to the Apostle James, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (Jas 1:8) Why do we let this insanity happen to us? One word: fear.
The snare of political fear
Doesn’t our own Bible tell how we should deal with fear? The verses are too numerous to list all, but we can look at a small sample and let them bite us a bit.
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
— Proverbs 29:25
Do we participate in politics out of fear? Do we only do what we do because we fear the alternative that the “system” presents us? If we vote or donate based on the fear of man, we let ourselves fall into Satan’s trap. He wants us to fear man rather than God. When we fear man, the devil wins! When we fear God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, He can give us safety in ways we do not expect.
But what about the battles and wars going on? Don’t we need to factor this into how we act politically?
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
— Psalm 20:7
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
— Psalm 118:8-9
Where is our trust? In our nation’s military? In the physical capacity of the forces our government wields against foreign aggression? Shouldn’t our trust ultimately be in God? If it is, what is our duty? Do what God requires of us in His Word and trust Him to provide for us as He did for Gideon and 300 men against half a million soliders, right? This is not to say that we should expect God to work supernatural miracles as He did for Israel, but His truth does not change. Let’s not be double-minded and unstable in everything as James warns us about. No wonder the world rightly calls us hypocrites. We are willing to preach our Scriptures on Sunday and throw them out the window for political expediency.
Faith and persecution
We must remember that early Christians did not enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy. Yet, these freedoms are not divinely guaranteed, but they come from God, not man. Are we willing to suffer persecution for our faith if God permits, as our forefathers did and fellow believers in other countries still do?
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
–2 Timothy 3:12-13
We are all assured that we will suffer “persecution” in some form. Atheists make fun of us. Governments try to trample our freedoms to preach the gospel boldly. Polycarp was burned at the stake. Being a Christian means being ready for persecution.
Clearly we are not supposed to seek persecution, but when it does come, what is our solution? Is it compromise by joining the largest possible group that represents the “lesser of two evils”? Well, what does the Apostle Paul continue to say?
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
–2 Timothy 3:14-17
What is our source of wisdom in the face of political persecution? The Scriptures! What is our focus in a messed-up political frenzy? The gospel!
Where is your hope? Is it in a less-than-ideal political savior who grieves God every day? Do you find yourself preaching the truth and virtues of Scripture, yet tilting your head and squinting to give ungodly heroes every possible benefit of the doubt? Do you find yourself in the snare of the fear of men and being double-minded and unstable in your Christian testimony? Before we let fear and Satan cloud our moral judgment, let us who name the name of Christ allow our own Bibles to tell us how we are to handle our lives and our words in all things.