Are we allowing politics to become an idol?
It is customary in American politics to take stock of a new president after his first 100 days in office. By the time most of you are receiving this, President Joseph Biden will have been in office for a little more than 120 days, after an election that showed the United States to be more divided than it has been since the American Civil War.
From riots, to accusations of cheating, to charges of profiteering from the gullible—and an unprecedented second impeachment of a sitting president—both sides have expressed dismay at the election outcome. Conservatives bemoan the election of a man they see as a socialist enabler who could by “executive order” put a practical end to American democracy. Many liberals, by contrast, are elated at the result and have cast President Biden into an almost-messianic role—expecting him and Vice President Harris to save a nation on the brink of ruin.
However, true Christians should not be swayed by the extreme emotions that may be affecting those who do not use the Bible as the foundation of their lives. The Scriptures reveal that Christians have universal responsibilities to their civil leaders, regardless of who they are and the changes they may or may not bring. Are we fulfilling our responsibilities, 100 days into the new administration?
Christians act as ambassadors of God’s government, wherever we reside (2 Corinthians 5:20; Philippians 3:20). We should be obeying civil laws, paying taxes, respecting the offices our leaders hold, and praying for them so that we can live peaceable, godly lives (Matthew 22:15–22; Romans 13:1–7; 1 Timothy 2:1–2). These verses were written when a brutal and corrupt Roman emperor ruled most of the civilized world—hardly a man most Christians agreed with on religion or policy.
And these verses are still difficult to follow today! Many things the United States government does—and will almost certainly do in the future—should not sit well with true Christians. Yet God’s word declares that, while we must not participate in evildoing, we must offer our godly obedience to our governments as fully as God’s word allows.
The Bible says to pray for our leaders, regardless of their party or politics. The Bible says to show respect to our leaders, regardless of what they post online. The Bible says to pay taxes, regardless of whether those taxes go to paying for a wall, universal health care, military expeditions, or a host of other government policies that we may or may not agree with. Christians should ask themselves if they are truly acting as citizens of the Kingdom of God and Christian ambassadors.
Another point to consider is how we Americans have done in praying for Mr. Trump over the last four years. He was president for more than 1,400 days. On how many of those days did we offer a prayer for God to guide him? Even weekly prayers would come to more than 200 prayers for Mr. Trump. I know I have some room for improvement.
Are we planning on praying more—or less—for Mr. Biden than we did for Mr. Trump? This question might help us identify a bigger issue we need to address in our lives. If we plan to pray more for Mr. Biden because we realize we need to improve our prayers regardless of who the president is and we are trying to grow in Christian maturity, that is wonderful. Growth is always good.
However, if political motivations prompt us to pray more—or less—for God to guide Mr. Biden, we have a lesson to learn. If we allow politics to dictate how we follow the Scriptures, we are allowing our nation to become an idol and are failing to follow the Bible’s plain instructions. Praying more for a Democrat than for a Republican—or vice-versa—simply because of their political party shows us that we still have work to do if we are truly to be Christian ambassadors.
True Christians will never completely agree with this world’s political leaders, but they will recognize that our attitude toward our political leaders is a matter of obedience to God, not about which individual is in office. To learn more, read the November–December 2020 article “A World Without Politics?” at TomorrowsWorld.org.