by Pastor Bob Cornell of Cornell Ministries
With the November 3rd presidential election quickly coming upon us, the question given in the title of this article has been stirring in my spirit. The majority of those who identify themselves as evangelical (gospel believing) Christians in the USA, no matter what race, believe in the voting process. But yet there is a large portion of Christianity that does not vote, even if they would verbally ascribe to it. The arguments against believers getting involved in politics are such as, “The Bible does not state clearly that we should involve ourselves in secular politics or voting,” or “The church is not called to vote, we are called to preach the gospel,” or “Christians are ONLY to pray for, honor, and obey governmental leaders and civil authorities, along with paying taxes” (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-4; 2 Pet. 3:13-17). It is true that there are no verses in the Bible that state specifically “Thou shall vote” or “Thou shall strive to become governmental leaders.” To some, it seems clear that Christians should not involve themselves in politics at all or just in the realm of voting and that’s it. To others, the whole Bible should be considered and not just those passages that specifically mention governmental leaders and the church. The following is just a few examples of what the Bible states about believers and politics.
First of all, it should be understood what is meant by the word “politics.” The English word “politics” comes from the Greek word for “city”, polis, and “citizen”, polites. Politics and being a citizen are closely connected. Politics is the art of managing or influencing government policies. Being a citizen is one who has the right to be a member of the social politic (management and influence) of a country. In other words, citizens are the ones who manage, influence, and use the rights of the politics of a country. Of course, in a cruel dictatorship or communism, the role of a citizen in politics is different.
In Acts 22:25-29 Paul used his Roman citizenship for the advancement of God’s will for his life, and ultimately for the Gospel’s sake. The Jewish Sanhedrin was demanding that the Roman authorities scourge Paul which would have most possibly ended Paul’s life. But Paul used his rights as a Roman citizen to stop it. Paul said to the centurion “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” (vs. 25). All of Acts 25 is about Paul’s continual appeal before Roman authorities to Roman law. In vs. 11 he even said “I appeal to Caesar.” Paul knew that it was God’s will for him to go to Rome. He also realized the only way that was possible was for him to use politics as a citizen of Rome. He would eventually be martyred by Nero, the Roman Emperor, but before that happened he wrote the “prison epistles,” and saw many Roman soldiers and common people won to Christ in Rome. Rome did not have a voting system like we do in the USA, but his appeal to Caesar was essentially his “vote” to use his rights as a Roman citizen. His “vote” would eventually end his life, but it also influenced the world from that point in time to the present. In Phil. 3:20 Paul wrote that “our citizenship is in heaven…” As children of God, we have dual citizenship, in heaven and on earth.
What do we take away from this example God gave us through Paul? A book could be written, but here are three important points:
1. Use our rights as a citizen to spread the Gospel to as many people as we can.
•We have the freedom & rights in the USA to spread the Gospel, so use that freedom & rights for the glory of God.
2. Use all the freedoms given to us as citizens to influence society with the Gospel and biblical morality & righteousness.
•Paul’s life is a snapshot of this. When he preached the Gospel in Jewish synagogues, he did so because he showed up and would have been invited by the ruling rabbi of that synagogue. We need to use our rights to at least show up to give the Gospel, even at places where we know we’ll be rejected.
•The Gospel brought God’s righteousness and morality everywhere Paul preached it. It does the same today in our society.
3. Paul used the rights given to him, so as citizens of the USA, we have the right and responsibility to use our vote to vote in leaders that will allow the church to continue to spread the Gospel freely.
We have several examples in the Old Testament in which God placed His people in influential positions in secular governments. It was God’s will for Joseph to be second in command to Pharaoh in Egypt in order to provide for and protect his family (Gen. 41:37-57). God placed Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in very influential positions in Babylon (Dan. 1-4). Nebuchadnezzar, the evil king of Babylon, had a life changing experience and he gave his life to God (Dan. 4). Daniel eventually was second in command to Darius in the Persian government in Daniel 6. He was a prophet and politician in a secular government. Esther became the queen of Persia in order to keep the Jewish people alive. God even used Cyrus, the heathen king of Persia, to provide for God’s people to rebuild the temple (Ezra 4:5). God used Cyrus so much that He even referred to Cyrus as His “anointed (one)” in Isaiah 45:1.
What do we take away from these examples?
1. At times, God will place a calling on a believer to be a political leader in some capacity.
•This does not mean that God has called the church to take over secular society through politics. This does mean that God can and will call His people to be in governmental positions, ultimately to uphold or be an example of biblical righteousness and morality in the country.
2. At times, God will even use unsaved governmental leaders for His purpose and glory.
Pastor Bob Cornell of Cornell Ministries
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