Summary: This sermon examines briefly what the Bible has to say about Jesus and politics.
Tennis player Serena Williams told reporters at Wimbledon last week that she was excited about Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy. However, she won’t vote for him since she is a Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Jehovah’s Witnesses “don’t get involved in politics.”
Her sister Venus—who is also a Jehovah’s Witness—wouldn’t even comment on the upcoming presidential election.
So, why don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses vote?
Jehovah’s Witnesses have interpreted that statement as a call to refrain from involvement in politics. (That is not what Jesus intended, however; he was saying that because of the new birth believers now have a citizenship in heaven.) Jehovah’s Witnesses are described in their literature as “representatives of God’s heavenly kingdom,” and they are thus obligated to stay out of local politics in keeping with the behavior of ambassadors. In addition to not voting, Jehovah’s Witnesses also refrain from serving in the military, running for public office, and pledging allegiance to the flag.
Interestingly, voting is not expressly prohibited by Jehovah’s Witnesses, but it is discouraged. The Watchtower, the official publication of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, ran an article in 1999 stating that the decision whether to vote or not was one of personal conscience, although it carefully laid out reasons for its members to stay out of the voting booth.
So, are the Jehovah Witnesses correct? Should Christians get involved in politics? Specifically, should Christians vote?
This spring I picked up a book by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe titled, How Would Jesus Vote?: a Christian Perspective on the Issues. I was intrigued by the title of the book, especially in view of the upcoming presidential election this November.
As we head into the final four months of this campaign season, the candidates will debate terrorism, war, rising fuel costs, the economy, health care, global warming, social issues, gay marriage, abortion, immigration, education, and many other important issues that have already created sharp ideological divisions.
The question that comes to mind is whether or not the Bible has anything to say on these issues. How Would Jesus Vote? brings a clear and lucid explanation of what God’s Word has to say about a Christian’s involvement in politics and voting. Therefore, for the next two months or so I would like to preach a series of messages, based largely on Kennedy and Newcombe’s book, titled “How Would Jesus Vote?”
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)
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.”
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.