For there is no authority except from God
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is from God. The authorities that exist have been appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1)
Romans Chapter 13:1 can be a very difficult passage for many Christians. It is very straightforward in its meaning but possibly hard to understand when there is a governing authority that one may find difficult to comprehend the purpose God might have in appointing him or her. As we look around at world affairs we may also find it hard to understand or accept it’s God’s will when we see so many evil rulers. I do firmly believe, however, that God gives nations the leaders they deserve whether good or bad.
Some evangelical pastors and other Christian leaders have turned from emphasizing the gospel to emphasizing politics, from emphasizing the Word of God to emphasizing political action to impact culture. From the pulpit they issue a call to action to support this or that candidate or movement. They have, however, a poor understanding of God’s will in the course of history. As preachers of the Word they should realize that the only call to action they have is given in Matthew 28:19 to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
It is a foolish and wasteful for those who were told to make disciples for the God of the universe to devote any time trying to bring people better morality or better living conditions through political means. We have been commissioned to bring the world the Gospel, which offers eternal life and a hope that politics never will. I believe that as Christians our task is the proclamation of the Gospel and we should not be sidetracked by the political culture of our day.
Much like many liberal mainline denominations, many evangelicals have lost their focus on eternal values and have turned to the political process to change the course of society. I suggest that it is only by making disciples, as the Church has been directed to do, that change will ever occur in a society that is rapidly devolving into sinful chaos. Those pastors that feel led to politicize their ministry should step down from the pulpit and join a political campaign. Those pulpits need to be filled by those who will preach the Gospel message. That is where society can find hope.
It is not that Christians are not to be involved, sometimes directly, in civil government. It is certainly not that believers should avoid expressing their beliefs through voting for the best qualified political candidates and for sound legislation. That is part of doing good in our society (Galatians 6:10; Titus 3:1–2). We should be grateful to God for the civil freedom we have to worship, to preach and teach the gospel, and to live our lives almost without restriction.
At issue is the matter of priority, of realizing that even the greatest earthly good we may be able to accomplish in this temporal world pales beside what the Lord is able to accomplish through us in the spiritual work of His kingdom. Like ancient Israel (Exodus 19:6), the church is called to be a kingdom of priests, not a kingdom of political social activists.
Scripture is clear that all authorities, all kings, all presidents and all other leaders rule by God’s sovereign will. In the current political climate if your conscience is telling you to vote the lesser of two evils just take a moment to reconsider. By casting your vote or working on the campaign of someone that you might consider the lesser of two evils, do you really think that you will change God’s will as to who will rule this country?