An important question in the minds of many Christians is whether or not it is right or good for a Christian to become involved in politics and government. There are two main viewpoints in answer to this question. On one side are those who point to the many problems which have been discussed in the series. They point out that politics in general is a corrupt and dirty business where the love of power, the love of money, dishonesty bribery, tribalism, selfishness, immorality and many other corrupt practices seem to rule the lives of many government officials. Some Christians warn that those who become involved in government are almost always corrupted or influenced in a negative way by the system of which they become a part. Hundreds of years ago, a philosopher named Machiavelli observed, ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. It has been the sad experience of some Christian of good intention that the temptations of power and money in government office have resulted in the loss of their Christians in government, it would be wise for a Christian to be very sure of God’s leading before seeking to become involved in politics. Christians who are led by God into government leadership should gather around them a group of mature Christians who will hold them accountable for their actions in office and who will also pray regularly for them. The most important questions which a Christian seeking political office should ask him or herself are these. Why do I want to run for this office? What will I accomplish that others are not able to do? Is my real motive personal ambition or the advancement of the Kingdom of God?
On the other side of this question is the clear testimony of the Bible that God himself has placed certain people in very high places or secular government leadership at different times in history. God did this in order to accomplish his will for that government or for his own people. Joseph was a foreign Jewish slave, sold on the Egyptian slave market as household help to Potiphar, the Captain of Pharaoh’s guard (Gen. 37:36). Joseph was a man with no freedom, no rights, no reputation and no hope of anything in Egypt. Yet God placed this young man at the very top of the Egyptian government, immediately under the Pharaoh himself (Gen. 41:41-44), in order to save Egypt from starvation and to provide a place of protection and expansion for God’s people (Jacob’s family). Moses was the son of despised and enslaved Jewish parents in Egypt, yet God placed him in the home of Pharaoh’s family. God enabled Moses to receive all the education, training and experience that was reserved for Egyptian royalty in order to prepare Moses for the task of leading God’s people for 40 years in the desert. Esther was an orphan who was being raised by a relative named Mordecai (Esther 2:7). Yet in God’s sovereignty, this unknown girl became the queen of one of the largest empires in the entire world. (Esther 2:17). God did this so that at the appropriate time this woman could be used by God to protect the entire Jewish nation from genocide by a crafty and wicked Persian government official named Haman (Esther 8:1-7). Daniel was taken as a prisoner of war while still a young man (Dan. 1:1-6). Yet in God’s sovereign plan this man became the most spiritual influential government official of ancient history and perhaps in all human history. This took place inspite of a careful laid plan to take his life (Dan. 6:1-7). What other man is history has ever been appointed prime minister under four different world empires? Yet that is what God caused to happen to this most unusual man. More amazing still is the testimony of Daniel’s political enemies about his character and integrity. Even his enemies could find no fault in him (Dan. 6:1-5). Throughout his long and unusual government career Daniel gave a powerful, effective and absolutely fearless testimony to the living God and his holy standards. His personal testimony was so powerful, in fact, that at least one of the kings under whom he served (Nebuchadnezzar) was converted to faith in the true God and wrote out the testimony of his conversion for the entire Babylonian empire to read (Daniel 4:1-2). It is clear from these biblical examples that it is the plan of God to have certain persons from among his own people occupy the highest offices of government at certain times in history. It should be observed, however, that in each case mentioned above it was not through the effort of the particular individual concerned that he or she came to occupy a position of high government leadership. Instead, it was the hand of God through circumstances which brought each person into power. This fact should be a guideline and a warning to Christians who seek high government office through the political process. As Daniel himself observed, it is God who put his people into positions of government authority and also removes them (Dan. 2:21). It is therefore extremely important for a Christian who becomes involved in the political process to be very sensitive and responsive to the will of God for his or her life. If Christians try to secure such positions for themselves they run the risk of personal ruin by entering an area of very great temptation and corruption – just as Machiavelli said long ago. God alone will choose those of his people whom he wants to run world governments, and God alone will determine how to put them into those positions. In truly democratic governments today, God may use the will of voters to place a Christian into a position of high political office. This has happened in a few African countries in the last decade of the twentieth century.
To be continued