by Johnathan Arnold
Political drivenness must be submitted to God’s revealed expectations for a Christian’s attitude towards government.
Submit (1 Peter 2:13-14; Romans 13:1-2; Titus 3:1)
The same “subjection” expected of wives to their husbands is expected of citizens to the government. This means that we should not undermine the authority of the government or speak disrespectfully about government officials, however ardently we disagree with government policies. Husbands should not expect their wives to have a better attitude towards them than they have for the president.
Politically-charged ramblings during testimony time or government-maligning prayer requests should be confronted as nothing less than sin.
Of course, our submission to government has the same caveat as a wife’s submission to her husband: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). As a normal rule, we should advocate for Biblical principles within the boundaries of the law and exercise our rights insofar as they advance the gospel; but, when the law forbids that which God commands, we should be faithful to God and our conscience, insofar as our conscience is biblically informed.
We should advocate for Biblical principles within the boundaries of the law and exercise our rights insofar as they advance the gospel.
Respect (1 Peter 2:17; Romans 13:7)
The key to honoring an elected official is that we do it “for the Lord’s sake,” in consideration of the official’s status as a fellow image-of-God bearer, and with respect for the office the person holds. We do not think about Trump as “Donald Trump, golf-course owner,” because he holds a much more significant title: “Donald Trump, President of the United States.” Christians need to be aware of an even higher status: “Donald Trump, image-bearer and lost soul in need of Christ.”
We often say things about elected officials — or harbor attitudes towards them — which we would never condone if spoken against someone in our church or community.
We often say things about elected officials — or harbor attitudes towards them — which we would never condone if spoken against someone in our church or community. This is why Peter says we are to “honor everyone…honor the emperor.” The courteousness and kindness we extend to the government should certainly be no less than we extend to our average fellowman when face-to-face with him.
Because government officials are so far removed from where we live, it is easy to be harsh and critical. Unless it had a direct bearing on the truth, Jesus never publicly (or privately) disdained, disregarded, or disrespected a public official. Before we can testify to Christlikeness, our attitude towards government must be renewed.
Jesus never publicly (or privately) disdained, disregarded, or disrespected a public official. Before we can testify to Christlikeness, our attitude towards government must be renewed.
Pray (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Darius agreed to Ezra’s request for God’s people to return to Jerusalem “that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons” (Ezra 6:10). Can elected officials count on the prayers and support of God’s people insofar as their policies are not contrary to the Word of God?
Christians should be very careful about political entanglements which breed resentful attitudes or isolate them from others in this deeply polarized age.
About the Author
Johnathan Arnold is Associate Pastor at Newport God’s Missionary Church and serves as Director of Media Ministry. You can connect with him on Twitter @jsarnold7 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.