Summary: In this sermon we examine what the Bible has to say about Jesus and politics.
Four years ago, as we were heading into the final four months of the 2008 presidential election, I preached a series of messages titled, How Would Jesus Vote? I would like to preach a similar series of messages again, this time titled, Politics According to the Bible. Much of the material will be similar to 2008, although there will be some new material in this series of messages.
As we head into the final four months of this 2012 campaign season, the candidates will debate the economy, health care, immigration, social issues such as gay marriage, and so on.
The question that comes to mind is whether the Bible has anything to say on these issues. I hope to show you that the Bible is very clear about a Christian’s involvement in politics.
As we begin this series today, I would like to preach a message about “Jesus and Politics.” Do Jesus and politics mix? Some would say, “No!” However, let’s see what Jesus himself said in Matthew 22:15-22:
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:15-22)
In the book How Would Jesus Vote? Kennedy and Newcombe note that “just a few decades ago it was reported that 50% of Christians were not even registered to vote, and 50% of those who were registered did not vote.” That is a staggering statistic.
Why is that?
I read a story about two Christians who were discussing this problem. One of them said, “The main problems in our nation today are ignorance and apathy. Don’t you agree?”
His friend said, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”
Fortunately, that attitude may be passing away as Christians realize that we are to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 2:21).
Now, as we begin this series, let me mention a few things that I do not believe.
First, I do not believe that we should have an established state church in America. The Founding Fathers were right in not wanting the state to sanction and approve a particular denomination as the preferred denomination for this country.
Moreover, I do not believe that we should have a church state. In the middle ages, the Roman Catholic Church had control over many countries, and I do not believe that is biblical either.
Furthermore, I do not believe that pastors should endorse political candidates, even though it is perfectly legal to do so. Churches may not endorse political candidates, but pastors may do so—even from the pulpit. However, I do not think it wise for pastors to become entangled in partisan politics.
And lastly, I do not believe that pastors should tell people for whom to vote. Each person must decide that for himself or herself.
What I do believe, however, is that my task as a pastor is to declare the principles of Scripture that apply to every issue that confronts Christians—even those issues that are political.
As I mentioned earlier, some would say that Jesus and politics do not mix. The misconception that Jesus and politics do not mix is reinforced by the fact that Jesus was not political while on earth—at least not in the common use of the term. Politics is often castigated as something evil and compromising—unworthy of Christians. My favorite commentator, John Stott, seeks to clear the confusion as he answers the question, “Was Jesus political?”:
. . . The words “politics” and “political” may be given either a broad or a narrow definition. Broadly speaking, “politics” denotes the life of the city (polis) and the responsibilities of the citizen (polites). It is concerned, therefore, with the whole of our life in human society. Politics is the art of living together in a community. According to its narrow definition, however, politics is the science of government. It is concerned with the development and adoption of specific policies with a view to their being enshrined in legislation. It is about gaining power for social change.