An open letter to my brothers and sisters in Christ
Dear fellow disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:9-12 that we are not to judge those outside the church, but those of us in the church are, indeed, to hold one another accountable to the teachings of scripture. Of course, we are to do this in love and gentleness, which is how I hope you take this letter.
I have to admit that I am a Facebook fanatic! I love watching the interaction and laughing at the various memes. But since the election of Donald Trump as our President, I’ve been very disturbed not by the comments and memes of unbelievers, but by the posts of believers! With all the love and gentleness I can muster, I am going to share with you what scripture tells us in the hopes that you will be convicted by the Holy Spirit to follow God’s word not the worldly ways of social media.
Let’s start with Romans 13 –
All of you must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God. 2 So whoever opposes the authorities opposes leaders whom God has appointed. Those who do that will be judged. 3 If you do what is right, you won’t need to be afraid of your rulers. But watch out if you do what is wrong! You don’t want to be afraid of those in authority, do you? Then do what is right, and you will be praised. 4 The one in authority serves God for your good. But if you do wrong, watch out! Rulers don’t carry a sword for no reason at all. They serve God. And God is carrying out his anger through them. The ruler punishes anyone who does wrong. 5 You must obey the authorities. Then you will not be punished. You must also obey them because you know it is right.
6 That’s also why you pay taxes. The authorities serve God. Ruling takes up all their time. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them. Do you owe taxes? Then pay them. Do you owe anything else to the government? Then pay it. Do you owe respect? Then give it. Do you owe honor? Then show it.
I think Paul’s comments are perfectly clear. We must submit ourselves to the authorities – period. Obviously, Paul is just echoing Jesus’ words when He tells us in Matthew 22:21, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and give unto God what is God’s.”
I don’t write this just to my more liberal Christian friends concerning President Trump. Many, many of my more conservative Christian friends struggled to follow these mandates while President Obama was in office as well. As Christians, we are to submit to the authorities so long as they do not violate the moral laws of God.
Every day I see comments comparing our leaders to Hitler, making fun of their looks, making knowingly false comments about them and their policies, attacking their children, and just being inflammatory and polemic. That is not the sign of a mature Christian, and, honestly, I have to wonder if the people making these kinds of comments are Christian at all.
I know this is difficult. There is something about politics that fires us up in a very visceral way that actually brings out the worst in us. Perhaps that is why Jesus commanded us to keep our focus on heavenly things not earthly things. And when it came to earthly things, such as kings and governments, Jesus was clear: Obey them.
Let’s look at what he told his disciples about obeying the Pharisees in Matthew 23:22: “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” Isn’t that amazing? Jesus taught his disciples to obey everything these leaders told them – these same people who Jesus had called “a brood of vipers!” But he also was clear that the disciples were not to do as they did, because the Pharisees themselves were not following the laws and rules they preached.
No matter our political persuasion or who is in office, as Christians we are not allowed to say things such as, “Not My President” or “Resist” their authority. Paul tells us we will be judged by God for such disobedience!
So how is a Christian to act when it comes to politics? Here is how I think about it when I read scripture.
- Scripture tell us that we may very well have bad kings. Of the 39 kings who ruled the Northern and Southern kingdoms, only eight were considered “good” by God! Thus, we should not be surprised that God can allow someone to take office and then see that person not act in a godly way. God will use that for His purpose even if we don’t understand how.
- Further, we also learn from scripture that God will judge leaders more harshly than others. That is because God has put them in a position of leadership and they are accountable to Him for that role. What that means is I don’t have to judge a leader because I know God will. And His judgment will hold that person accountable much more stringently than my judgment ever could.
- I clearly can voice my dislike of any policy a leader proposes or implements. But if that policy becomes law, I must follow it so long as it does not violate the moral laws of God.
- Further on that point, the moral laws of God are not chosen by you! They are clearly laid out in scripture. You may vehemently disagree with what a leader is doing, but unless they are breaking one of God’s moral laws our role is to submit.
- If they do break a moral law, then you can resist but only in a Christ-like manner. What does that look like? See Martin Luther King and his civil disobedience movement. Your resistance may not result in what you want – you could be arrested and have everything taken from you. But you can resist when the authorities try to make you break God’s moral law.
- Always remember the political climate Jesus and the disciples lived under. They did not try to change the government – they focused their energy on salvation, something much more important!
- Do not attack a leader personally. No matter how much you don’t like that person, he or she is made in the image of God just like you! Imagine for a moment if God treated you the way you have treated some of your least favorite politicians. Hmm…
- The best way for the electorate to hold our leaders accountable is the ballot box. If you really feel strongly about a leader, change the leader through the election process. That is your right, but do so in a way that does not compromise your Christian character.
- Don’t get in social media fights with non-believers. It is oh so tempting, isn’t it?!?! But hold your tongue, or in this case your fingers. Non-believers are not held to Christ’s standards as we are because they are blinded by Satan and do not have the indwelling truth of the Holy Spirit. Don’t act as if you don’t either!
- Live for Christ not some random politician. Presidents, congressmen, legislators, and judges will come and go. You will stand before none of them when your time comes. Live for Christ because He is the one to whom we all will answer when all is said and done.
I know this is hard advice to take. I’ve lived under Presidents:
- Lyndon Johnson
- Richard Nixon
- Gerald Ford
- Jimmy Carter
- Ronald Reagan
- George H.W. Bush
- Bill Clinton
- George W. Bush
- Barak Obama
- Donald Trump
I honestly can’t say I agreed 100 percent with any of them. And, I found the actions of several of them criminal if not bordering on immoral in both parties! Yet, because I follow Jesus as my King I obey the law – even those with which I disagree – and I submit to the authorities as I am told. When I engage in politics, which I do, I try my very best to do so in a way that would not embarrass my Lord and Savior! I am His ambassador so every word I speak, action I take, and thought I think must represent Him completely!
Take a look at your social media feed and ask yourself this question: Would a stranger who is seeing your feed for the first know you are a Christian?
I believe we all should engage in politics; it is our civil duty as Americans. However, we must do so in a manner that shines Christ’s light.