TMT#10 Politics (3): Church & State

We’re concluding a short political three-parter. Part one encouraged us to assume good intent, ask questions, stay calm, and be prepared to argue our case well (i.e. logically and respectfully). Part two recommended nuanced engagement with politics; realising that although we might disagree on methodology, our motives are the same. Distancing ourselves from discussion or fanning flames of division are not fruitful options long term.

As Christians, it’s encouraging to know that the Bible speaks into political issues.

What does it say? Well, much more than a blog post worth of stuff. Here are a few examples:

SUBMIT TO OUR LEADERS

Right now, there are myriad reasons to feel frustrated. Trump, Clinton, Trudeau, Harper, Corbyn, May, etc. One of those names probably filled you with exasperation.

But here’s the thing.

Whoever is in power, and whatever direction they lean, we are to submit to our authorities, recognising that God has placed them there (I recommend reading Rom. 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17). To be clear, that doesn’t mean we have to agree with them; it means that if/when we don’t, we express it in a way that is respectful and loving. After all, the second of the Greatest Commandments is to love our neighbours as ourselves (Matt. 22:39). One way we can do that is by praying for our leaders (see 1 Tim. 2:1-4)

BUT SUBMIT TO GOD FIRST

In Acts 4:19, when ordered by officials not to talk about Jesus, Peter and John reply with a question:

“Which is right in God’s eyes, to listen to you or to him?”.

It’s a rhetorical question. We should submit to our authorities unless they lead us to disobey God (sin).

WE CAN DISPLAY LOVE THROUGH POLITICS

The Bible instructs us to engage with social justice (Isa. 1:17; Psalm 82:3; Isa. 58:10, etc.). One of the most famous passages is Micah 6:8:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. “

To support the helpless, poor, oppressed, widow, orphan, slave and suffering, we have to connect with the political arena. It’s not enough to stand idly by or worse, hide from the world.

We’re just at the tip of the iceberg. Two-minute thoughts will rarely plunge to any significant depth, but that’s not the intention. Why not look into it more yourself?

As Christians, we must engage politics with love, respect, nuance, calmness, and determination that we will not allow vitriolic insults, self-righteousness, judgmental put-downs and division to win the day.

I believe it’s possible. I hope you do too.

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