As I write this, the Midterm Elections are happening, and by the time you read this, they will be over. So I thought it a good day to talk about our relationship as Christians and as churches with the political machine. Many feel they have this locked up biblicly, but I would beg to differ.
We get a lot of different teaching throughout scripture about how to deal with political leaders. While most everyone I know can quote Paul’s Romans 13 teaching that we should submit to the governing authorities, assuming they are put in place by God, few think to look elsewhere for other teachings and examples. Primarily, Christians are afraid of having differing teachings about any topic, feeling this weakens the biblical position on anything, but I beg to differ here too. I think the bible having different teachings over time and across cultures shows the reality of it and confronts one of the biggest arguments I hear against it, that it is a dead 2000 year old book.
If we look at the OT for examples and teaching, we have to look at the exiles, first in Egypt then centuries later in Assyria and Babylon. The Israelites submitted to the ruling authorities not out of theological requirement but because those authorities would kill the if they didn’t. There was no though at the Red Sea that God would want them to resubmit to the Egyptians because He put them in charge in the first place. In fact, God is the one who stands against these political leaders.
For the sake of time, let’s jump to Jeremiah, who suggests that the governing authorities have indeed been put in power by God, but not for the betterment of the Jews. No, they have been put in power as punishment for Israelite disobedience.
And by the time we reach Revelation, John’s message about the governing authorities is to endure their evil, for God is coming back soon.
So as we consider our response to our own governing authorities, we have to pray and discern whether God’s call is to see them as simply stronger than we are, to see them as God’s instrument of punishment for our disobedience, to see the as God-appointed and therefore requiring our submission, or to see them as worldly persecution to be endured.