In all my years as a pastor, I have found few issues so divisive, that anger so many, and that have more Christians at odds with one another than the issueof the Church and politics.
When you dive into the subject, you find some people – the “separatists”– who think that the church and politics should never be talked about together.You’ll also find other people – the “activists” – who think that the Church should have complete involvement in politics.
These two perspectives create a lot of tension and division within the body of Christ, especially during election year.
And the question that seems to come up, over and over again is: Should the Church be involved in politics?
The answer might surprise you.
First, I want to start out by saying that Scripture is very clear that every believer has dual citizenship.
The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 3:20, that if we are born-again believers in Jesus Christ, “our citizenship is in heaven.”
This means that, as Christians, we are both citizens of the country that we live in and we are also citizens of God’s spiritual kingdom. Therefore, we havea responsibility to be faithful to both God’s authority and to the authority of our earthly government.
But, perhaps you’re wondering, how can we be faithful to both, especially if our government, our president, and the world we live in are corrupt?
We need to understand that role of the government is limited. It cannot ordain morality. It cannot produce righteousness. Its main role is to restrain evil.
The government can legislate morality with laws that create boundaries to keep us protected. But it can’t bring about changes in the human heart.Ultimately, our hope cannot be placed in candidates or political systems.
At the core of moral and cultural change is not changed laws, Supreme Court Justice appointments, or referendum victories. It’s a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that changes you and changes culture, from the inside out.
As Christians, we shouldn’t expect the Church to accomplish what only individual believers can achieve!
I receive so many letters and where I’m strongly encouraged to “preach on that,” interview candidates, take a stand, or pass out voting guides. But whatthese Christians don’t realize is that all those things are the role of the individual believer, not the Church.
The overarching message of exalting Christ and the message of redemption and His kingdom agenda is God’s priority when we’re gathered corporately. God isnot a Republican, Democrat, or Independent.
Unfortunately, the Church has been hijacked and the pulpit used by the Right and the Left to promote their agendas. Scriptural focus and kingdom principlesare often replaced with whom you should support politically.
And at the end of the day, the elections are driven by the one the populous believes can make their lives and the economy better. We’re not asking,“God, what do You want in this country? What do You want me to do?” We’re asking, “Who has the better plan to make my life and my future better?”
The separatists and the activists both have it wrong. Separation for the Church is not the answer. Activism in the Church gathered is not the answer.
The answer is two words: Individual responsibility!
We have to ask ourselves, “If there is a kingdom of heaven that is spiritual and eternal and our allegiance is first to Christ, shouldn’t that be ourfirst priority?
We all want the government to change things and we want the Church gathered to change things. But Jesus would say, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-16)
As believers, it’s our personal responsibility to exemplify Christ in the culture by our life, word, resources, and by engaging in the politicalprocess as fully as the government allows.
In reality, what we really want is for someone else to accomplish what God says is our job. We have 60 million evangelicals in America and in the lastelection only 20 million voted. That means two thirds missed an opportunity to put Christ first and cast a kingdom vote!
You want your city and country to change? Change happens when we begin to say, “I’m going to be informed. I’m going to vote. I’m going to find out the calling on my life to meet the real needs in my community.”
It’s time to get out and be Jesus to those who desperately need Him.
Change comes when we as individuals see it is our responsibility – not the government or the Church’s – to make a difference.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the senior pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California, and teaching pastor and president of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including "The Real God," "Culture Shock" and "The Real Heaven." Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and eleven grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip