Christian Living

Representing Christ in an Election Year: Part One


Amber Fischer August 14, 2020
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In America, the current political debate is fraught with intense emotions: anger, frustration, resentment, self-righteousness, and pride. Navigating conversations with friends and family has become increasingly difficult, and even the slightest disagreement can cause division and contention. 

 

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you we’re in an election year.

 

But this year feels different. In years past, while many have been firm in their political beliefs, I have never had the same concern that I might lose friends and family over political opinions. People are all too willing to cut others out of their lives for a “wrong belief” or a perceived “hateful opinion.” 

 

My initial desire has been to pull back. And I’ve noticed this is not a unique desire: instead of confronting the attitudes of those around us, I’ve found many Christians wanting to step back altogether and not engage, to keep the peace. 

 

But I also realized sitting on the sidelines wasn’t going to cut it anymore because no matter what I did or didn’t do, someone would critique me for it. Others can now perceive silence on an issue as an action taken.

 

Our culture and political system leave little room for those not outraged by one thing or another. “Live and let live” is a story for a bygone era, and the world now looks at the church with skeptical eyes, waiting for us to make a move which appears to discredit our message.

 

And worse yet, these blatantly unbiblical attitudes are seeping into the church.

 

So what are we supposed to do about all of this?

 

As I have prayed about how the Lord wants believers to represent Him in this area of politics, I have been convicted through Scripture and the church about how we should engage – not in terms of political affiliation, but terms of attitude. There is a better way than the two extremes of outrage and avoidance, and this better way is discovered by digging into what Scripture says on the issue.

 

Over this three-part series, we’re going to look at four aspects of political engagement:

 

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT AND CHRISTIAN INTERACTION?

 

1 Timothy 2:1-4: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God our savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 

 

This chapter in 1 Timothy is speaking of the conduct of believers in the world. Further on in the chapter, there are specific instructions to both men and women about their appearance and attitude. But it begins here: with prayer.

 

WHY BEGIN WITH PRAYER

 

In Romans chapter 13, Paul gives instructions to be “subject to the governing authorities.” Our attitude towards those in charge should be one of submission, of obedience, of lawfulness. We look to Jesus as our example in these areas. He did not come to rebel against Rome, but instead, he said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” In other words, give Caesar what is lawfully due to him.

 

The government is instituted to maintain lawfulness. Romans 13:4 says, “For he [the authority] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

 

This is the calling of every person who assumes rulership or authority in a governing capacity. However, this does not mean every ruler or authority is going to step into their God-given role entirely. Many do not understand the purpose of their own authority and overstep their bounds.

 

This is why we pray – so we may live quiet and peaceful lives, godly and dignified. We pray so the authorities might be moved to enable citizens to live peacefully and with dignity in order to follow the Lord well.

 

The key phrase is in 1 Timothy 2:3 “This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our savior, who desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.”

 

Our conduct commends our God to those in human positions of authority who have usurped their appointed role. We are here to represent Christ. Our mission is to preach the Gospel and make disciples. We hope they would see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).

 

THE HIGHER AUTHORITY

 

This comes with an addendum: If our government is telling us to do something which directly contradicts the Word of God, we are obligated to obey the Lord, not the government. Our allegiance is first and foremost to the Lord, and our submission is first and foremost to Christ (Ephesians 1:21-23). 

 

Pastor John MacArthur preached on July 26th, 2020, about when it is appropriate for the church to oppose the government. I encourage everyone to listen to his perspective (and critiques of his perspective!). 

 

I believe he has this idea correct: in a corresponding letter regarding the boundaries of government, he says, “the honor that we rightly owe our earthly governors and magistrates does not include compliance when such officials attempt to subvert sound doctrine, corrupt biblical morality, exercise ecclesiastical authority, or supplant Christ as head of the church in any other way.”

 

We know the authorities on earth are not ultimate authorities. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The King’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” While we are to be respectful and honoring, we place our trust in the Lord’s ultimate and sovereign authority. Even kings answer to the Lord, not to their own authority.

 

Whether you feel confident about your political views on a subject or are struggling to put them together, what should you do? Pray. In the face of political debates with all of the anger, frustration, resentment, self-righteousness, and pride that so easily boils to the surface, what should you do? Pray. We trust and submit to the highest authority through prayer. Prayer is not the only thing we do, but it is the first and therefore primary thing. Remember that God’s Word urges us to first and foremost pray.

 


 

For more on this topic, please read Representing Christ in an Election Year: Part Two, as Amber answers, “How do we approach our unique situation as citizens of a Constitutional Republic” and “How can we Biblically interact with politics?”

 

Although this post is not a comprehensive view of political engagement, it is an encouragement to think and act in accordance with a biblical worldview. Would you like to see more content like this on the blog? Please email us at communications@teenpact.com.

 

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of TeenPact Leadership Schools. To learn more about our Vision & Values, please visit teenpact.com/vision-values/.

About the Author

Amber Fischer

Amber Fischer is an avid thinker and writer and former TeenPact Staffer. Amber has lived on the West Coast most of her life, growing up in Portland,… Read More