Religion and Politics. Friend or Foe? For the Christian, the answer is not that black and white. Politics is an inevitable reality. Religion and politics are the two most taboo subjects to talk about. Perhaps that’s because they both get at the heart of what an individual believes and exposes where their true convictions lie.
It can be tempting for Christian communicators to shy away from the subject of politics because of how divisive it can be—especially in recent years. The mission for Christians is to spread the life-changing truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what does that have to do with politics?
The Bible and Politics
In Romans 13, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.”
Jesus said in Mathew 22, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Clearly, government is interwoven in the life of a Christian. We are called to submit to government while more importantly obeying the authority of God. So why is it helpful or important to engage in the political arena?
Peter shed some light on this question in his letter to believers in 1 Peter 1:3-6:
“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…”
Hope. Every human heart yearns for that. It is important for Christian communicators to engage in politics at their workplace and in their everyday rhythms because it opens opportunities to point to the hope that Christians have. Whenever Christians engage in political conversations, it becomes evident how broken the world is. But in these conversations, Christians can rejoice at the opportunity to point others to the cross where true hope is found in Christ. Politics expose divisiveness, but unity is found when we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
While engaging in politics, Christian communicators can strategically bring about a Gospel-centered conversation and point to the hope of Jesus in a broken world. But we must do this with wisdom.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul points out that we should do everything to the glory of God. That includes engaging in the political realm.
Remember where your true home is
When writing to the church of Philippi, Paul stresses that those who are followers of Jesus are first and foremost citizens of heaven (Philippians 1:27).
Peter writes that we belong to God but live in a foreign land (1 Peter 1:1).
Psalms 39 says, “For I am with you as an alien, a temporary resident like all my ancestors.”
Jesus says that we are not of this world (John 15:19).
Christians are living as exiles in a foreign land. Our true home is in heaven. We are citizens of heaven before we are citizens of the United States or any other country. And we remember this truth as we engage in political conversation. As citizens of heaven, our greatest hope is in Christ alone. And this hope is not dependent on who is in the White House or any other position of political leadership.
However, this is not an excuse to disengage from the political arena. In Jeremiah 29:7, God told the Israelites to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I called you into exile.” This is the same call for Christians today—exiles in this world. Even though this earth is not our home, we are still called to invest in it and be active members of our communities.
Politics is all about people. We can love our neighbors well when we are involved in our local communities.
Seek wisdom from God
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). As Christians, we should derive our truth from God. But how do we do that?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7).
Proverbs tells us that obtaining true knowledge starts by revering the Lord—honoring him and looking to him first (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10).
As we seek wisdom in our political conversation, we should align your political values with biblical values. Doing this requires that we must know and understand Scripture. How is God leading you to engage in politics—loving your neighbor and glorifying him? Pray and ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). Seek wisdom from your pastor and from fellow believers. Study scripture to see how it speaks to a particular political issue.
Rather than retreat from politics, how can you seek God as you engage with politics?
Change your approach
When entering a political conversation, Christians should be more focused on loving their neighbor and honoring the dignity of that person than on proving a point or winning an argument. Perhaps how we engage—the tone and approach—are just as important as what argument we can bring to the conversation.
How we speak and engage should be glorifying to God. We should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19). Jesus cared for others, and we should too as we seek to walk as he walked (1 John 2:6). When others know that we care for them, they will be more likely to hear us out. Even the person we adamantly disagree with is made in the image of God, and we ought to honor them as such (Genesis 1:27).
Every person has value and worth, and our conversations with them should reflect that.
In Mathew 22, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. As Christians speaking to political issues, we should love others and honor them as greater than ourselves. People will see that you are different from the rest of the world. When they ask why, point them to the living hope of Jesus Christ.