I am an American citizen. As such I love, respect and honor my country. My prayers are going up for our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and all across the world. When it comes time to vote, I'll vote. If America re-installed the draft and I got called up I'd fight and even die for this nation of ours.
I'd do the same if I lived in Canada or Brazil or England or wherever. Why? Because God commands us in Romans 13 to be good citizens and to respect the powers that God has established in whatever country we are citizens of. Check out verses 1-7,
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."
This is an especially powerful passage when you realize that Nero was most likely the Emperor on the throne of Rome when Paul penned these words to the Roman believers. This Christian hating, mother killing, sister loving, aspiring and conspiring, naughty tyrant was the one calling the shots in the vast Roman Empire at the time. This passage reminds the Romans to submit themselves to the governing authorities and show them due respect. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 Paul urges all Christians to pray for their earthly king as well.
So why do Christians show so much unChristian conduct when it comes to politics? I know that I've done it in the past. We are first and foremost citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20) and should conduct ourselves as such. That means we submit to and pray for anyone who gets elected as President (Obama, Huckabee, Hillary, McCain, Mitt or whoever.) Of course if we were commanded to do something against the Scriptures we would obey God, like the Apostles did in Acts 4, instead of some human command that violates Scripture. But even then we would do it with an attitude of gentleness and respect.
I believe every Christian has a duty to vote and submit to the powers that be. But I also believe we don't don't burn our fruit tree (love, gentleness, respect, etc) just because we are talking politics with somebody.
To be honest I'm tired of Christians being known more for their politics (the life-saving right and the poor-feeding left) than their love for God and each other. It's sad to me that many in the world view Christianity as a great, big special interest group that politicians must cater to.
Instead we should be the ones out leading the way for change through soul transformation AND community transformation. Sure part of this transformation happens politically but the vast majority of it happens through the Great Commission and Great Commandment working side by side from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Imagine with me 350,000+ Protestant churches and who-knows-how-many brothers and sisters in Christ in the Catholic churches all across America mobilized for community transformation. Their "weapons"? The gospel of Jesus, prayer and hard work! The outcome? The poor served, problems fixed (crime watch, habitat for humanity type work projects, etc) and souls saved. Oh yeah, and they'd all vote too! How? Not by party lines but by their convictions from the Word of God.
Why not? Why should we put our hopes in our government representatives? We need to put our hope in God and start transforming those around us with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Politics are fine and dandy…but Jesus, working through his people, is the One who truly changes things.
Greg Stier is the President and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with youth leaders and students, equipping them to be effective in sharing the gospel. With experience as a senior teaching pastor and in youth ministry for almost 20 years, Greg has a reputation of knowing and relating to today's teens. He is widely viewed as an authority and expert teen spirituality. He is known for motivating, mobilizing and equipping teens for positive change. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, and the SURVIVE 07/08 conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org.