Politics and Our Faith: Leading with Scripture

Let’s talk politics – shall we!? No? Well, if you keep reading we’re gonna do it anyway! BUT what I’m NOT gonna do is talk about our President or any of the candidates who want to be because that’s not why I write. I write to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as a plea to do a few things, consider some things, and follow through with what we believe. So here are three “truths” that you and I must heed (and live by ourselves).

First: REMEMBER THAT GOD IS IN CHARGE. We need to remember this when we don’t like the way things are going. We need to remember this when my candidate doesn’t get picked. We need to remember every single day that when we declare the “sovereignty” of God we declare the sovereignty of God. It’s His world, he’s in charge, and it’ll be Him who restores, rights the wrongs, and heals the nation, world, cosmos, and everything beyond. Let’s remember that.

Secondly: WE are NOT in charge. And let’s count our blessings there because I’m all sorts of messed up in many different ways – as are you. As it stands I cannot imagine why anyone would want to be president and the leader of a whole poop-ton of messed up people (I have a hard enough time with my own family!). But when we remember that WE are not in charge we can then begin to live into WHO is in charge and seek HIS ways. Which should remind us too that no candidate is perfect and we must, with grace, forgive and not expect perfection. Which leads me to…

Thirdly: We are called to seek HIS way, HIS Kingdom, HIS life and not our own and it is THAT VERY TRUTH where I want to break that down. Because while we profess #1 and #2, and it will be those two that give us ultimate peace and comfort when things don’t go our way, it’s this THIRD one that must be on the tips of our tongues, driven deep into our hearts, and sitting heavy upon our brains. Believers in the risen Savior are called to live, abide, and act like the risen Savior themselves. And not only that but we are to seek, hold accountable, and desire it in our leaders as well. Being a follower of Christ doesn’t just mean that we acknowledge and desire Him to be the redeemer of us but we ALSO declare that He will/is the Redeemer of this world. And that in the end there is nothing in this world where God hasn’t claimed as his. As the creator of it all he is sovereign (ruler of) to it all. So when we go to the polls, as we begin to watch the field of candidates narrow, as we THEN begin to watch our current president and his challenger square off – what are we to do? How are we to vote? I’m glad you asked. Let’s turn to scripture as God kind of tells us what leadership looks like.

First, I think we can look at biblical leaders and not only recognize their brokenness but the very quality that they have that God declared was good. Moses was meek (Numbers 12:3), David sought God’s heart (1 Sam 16:7), Daniel was obedient (1 Sam 15:22), Paul suffered for the truth (2 Cor 1:5), Nehemiah was bold, Deborah was wise and courageous, Peter lived into the truth of forgiveness and restoration and the list goes on and on as we have Gideon, Noah, Samuel, etc! And while I agree, and affirm, that we’re NEVER going to find anyone like Jesus we MUST realize that we are called to BE like him. So we must consider his submissiveness, humility, servant-heart, his love, helpfulness, kindness, forgiveness, prayer-life, and compassion. We must acknowledge that he denied self, sought wisdom, was righteous, treated others as he wanted to be treated, was a leader-as-a-shepherd, and was honest. But again, let’s not stop there as there is a plethora of texts concerning the qualities we must have.

Proverbs 29:18 reminds us that a leader must have a vision – they can’t just go off and expect people to follow. A leader must lead and encourage and be able to articulate and get people onboard. Think of them as a “unifier” and “visionary” with the people’s heart in mind.

1 Peter 5:2-3 reminds us that a leader must actually lead by example! This is why I’ve always appreciated CEOs who started at the bottom and worked up. It shows commitment, hard work, and an understanding of the system AS WELL AS the importance of ALL people.

Colossians 3:12-13 reminds us that we must be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, and patient. This is important because it reminds us that it is our nature NOT to do those things (stupid sin!). So we must be cognizant of who we ARE and who we WANT to be and then make the effort TO BE BETTER. Our leaders must be better.

1 Timothy 4:12 speaks of showing, and living, by their example of speech, conduct, faith, purity, and love. Our leaders must live into this. I DO recognize that this is hard because this is NOT the way the “political system” works. And while I would LOVE it if someone actually sought leadership living into this truth – THE TRUTH is that this country would never elect them. I wish they would – but I can’t see it happening any time soon.

2 Timothy 2:15 reminds us that we have a higher authority that we acknowledge and bow to…SO DON’T BE STUPID CUZ HE SEES AND YOU WILL HAVE TO STAND BEFORE IN GLORY! I wonder how many actions, words, and activities would change if we just stopped and thought about “how is this going to look to God?” before acting?

Romans 12:8 reminds us that we must work hard and help in ways that are actually helpful and needed. So a leader must not do what THEY want but what the people NEED.

Proverbs 11:14 reminds us that a wise leader actually surrounds them with other wise people…AND NOT JUST PEOPLE YOU LIKE. So our leaders must surround themselves with people who believe differently and are going to pushback so that decisions are made when all angles are considered.

Isaiah 16:5 declares that we must sit on a throne of love. Our leaders need to look at where they’re sitting…and if it ain’t on, or in, love…then they don’t need to be there.

Finally, Proverbs 16 is long – but it has TONS of great reminders of how we should be, act, and what we should demand from others. I’ve put in red some of those qualities that stand out to me as good – and green those that are NOT good

To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
but motives are weighed by the Lord.

3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.

4 The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.

5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

7 When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

8 Better a little with righteousness
than much gain with injustice.

9 In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
and his mouth does not betray justice.

11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12 Kings detest wrongdoing,
for a throne is established through righteousness.

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
they value the one who speaks what is right.

14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
but the wise will appease it.

15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;
his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver!

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
those who guard their ways preserve their lives.

18 Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
and gracious words promote instruction.

22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,
but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
and their lips promote instruction.

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25 There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.

26 The appetite of laborers works for them;
their hunger drives them on.

27 A scoundrel plots evil,
and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.

28 A perverse person stirs up conflict,
and a gossip separates close friends.

29 A violent person entices their neighbor
and leads them down a path that is not good.

30 Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity;
whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.

32 Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.

Remember, we are kingdom of God/heaven aligned people. We’re not called to be “Democrats” or “Republicans” or “Tea-Partyers” or anything else. And I say that because we DO tend to vote along “party lines.” And not only that we tend to vote along agenda-lines. When we begin to align our heart, head, hands, feet, and mouth with God then we begin to see that we don’t vote because the person will push _______ agenda or because they are a ___________ (Dem/Rep/Other) – we vote because THEY embody AS MUCH of a “Godly” leader as they can. That all those things we declare God calls people to be are being manifested IN that candidate. Clearly, we cannot, and will not, find someone with all these qualities but it’s time we start leading with our Bibles and not our own desires/agendas. And if we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done…” we must recognize that we desire the ways of his kingdom to be done on earth AS IT IS in heaven.

Seek first the kingdom of God. It’s about time we started doing that. Oh, and BEFORE ANYTHING is done – let’s pray! Pray for the candidates, pray for their wisdom and guidance, pray FOR YOUR wisdom and guidance as you go to the polls, caucus, and do whatever else. But in the end, we must remember that REGARDLESS of the direction we go – our Father in heaven and HIS leadership remains.

So as you go to the polls, as you begin to watch and seek to vote – turn to your Bibles, pray, and vote for the person who embodies the very things we know we’re all called to be. The only “agenda” we should have is finding someone who’s “agenda” matches the heart of God.

JustMy2Cents

– Kelly

2 thoughts on “Politics and Our Faith: Leading with Scripture

  1. There’s much to agree with in your post. That God is in charge and we are not are clear truths. I think we can go one step further and even say that according to Romans 13:1ff. that those in authority over us are placed there by God. It’s always been remarkable to me that Paul wrote these words about the Roman Empire, a militaristic, power driven nation with megalomaniac emperors who thought they were divine. Yet God is said to have put them in power.

    And how could one disagree with the need for godly character in leaders. But it is that contrast with the character of Roman leaders (and perhaps some Old Testament enemy kings like Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, and Artaxerxes) and God’s being in charge that gives me pause. I will readily grant that one thing different about ancient Rome and modern America is the role that Christians can play in the political process and in choosing our leaders. Being citizens of a democratic society places some responsibility on us in who and what the government is.

    One question I would raise about your third point is that most if not all of the scripture you cited is about the character of believers, church leaders, or leaders in theocratic Israel. While the Judeo-Christian perspective influenced the founding of the United States and has influenced our society throughout our history, we, as a nation, are not the new Israel, not the Church, not a theocracy as was ancient Israel. From a Biblical perspective we are one of the nations, a Gentile nation, like all the other nations who has no special relationship with God as a nation.

    Consequently, it is important to understand that there is a fundamental difference between the way God and His rule applies to the Church (and to believers) and how it applies to society as a whole and to the civil government. At this point in time we are a pluralistic society with many religions, many lifestyles, various convictions on ethical issues, etc. I would suggest that civil authorities are called by God (as in your first point) to protect the rights and freedoms and welfare of all people (not just Christians, but including Christians). The Church is able to do its work without government interference (1 Timothy 2:2). Of course, the Church is a different matter and is ruled more narrowly and prohibits in its midst false religions and immorality and demands obedience and conformity to God’s Word. So what does this mean in light of your third point? While many aspects of character are of shared interest between believers and unbelievers (integrity, truthfulness, law-keeping, etc.), there are others that may not be so important (humility, sexual purity, trusting in the Lord, etc.).

    Finally, I want to suggest that being a Christian does not necessarily wash away the divides that might distinguish us from one another in our common life in this world, such as being a Democrat or a Republican. If we connect our faith with our politics, then we likely have thought through the way our political preferences are affected by our faith. It is possible for a Christian to be a conservative or a liberal or a libertarian or, for that matter, a theistic Communist or a monarchist or an oligarchist. In the United States whatever view one takes should be consistent with the Constitution or the laws of the land (but, here in the United States, of course, we can can seek and advocate for change). But one’s reading of scripture may lead one to a more “liberal” big-government, welfare state role for the government, thus one might lean politically in that direction. On the other hand one’s reading of the scripture may lead one to a more “conservative” approach that maximizes individual and institutional liberties and gives more responsibility to individuals and to the church and other institutions to provide in a diaconal sense for poverty, hunger, healthcare, etc. One could advocate a strong federal government role in managing society or one could advocate a more local States-centric role. Notice that there might be common goals rooted in scripture, but a different preference as to how to best accomplish the goals. Nonetheless, my political leaning may flow out of my Christian perspective and thus it is not so easy to say that “We’re not called to be “Democrats” or “Republicans” or “Tea-Partyers” or anything else.” I fully agree that our fundamental identity is in Christ and as “kingdom of God/Heaven aligned people” and that our political differences must not divide us as Christians. We should see political preferences as one of the “things indifferent” of Romans 14. And we are called not to look down on each other because of these differences.

    I appreciate the effort to help us relate the current political scene and our politics in particular to our faith. Jesus says “Mine!” not only to the Church but to the whole world including the political realm. Let’s keep a spirited but mutually edifying conversation alive as part of our Christian engagement with the world and a watching world at that. Hopefully, we can do better than the hyper-partisanship that we see in society today.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply Terry!

      I agree, the US is NOT the New Israel and part of the problem we have is that we THINK we are. Thinking that God has a special place in his heart for America, outside of all other places and people, is just wrong. Through Christ we are all his children. And I also fully agree that the lens we use DOES shape which political leanings we lean into. It would be wonderful if it didn’t and that the Christian community could be united in our desire to see love, kindness, and goodness prevail – but until Christ returns that just ain’t happening.

      Thank you again for your wise-words!

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