Disciples of Jesus have a different set of values, ideals and methods from the world, and it is of utmost importance that we maintain this distinction. Jesus himself never sought to become involved in politics, and whenever he was given the opportunity, he refused to take sides in their political arguments. Jesus recognized that the devil ruled as the god of this world, influencing all the nations of this world, and He placed absolutely no trust in their deceptive power.
Therefore Christians should remain separate from earthly governments and politics. Christians are to pledge their allegiance to God alone, and not to any earthly nation, political party or political ideology. Because Jesus is our only Lord and Master, we are not to serve any other lord or master.
1.Christians should have a different set of values
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6.19-21
Earthly governments are continually in pursuit of earthly treasures (or in their own language “economic strength”. Jesus warns that earthly treasures pass away. This is why those who seek after earthly treasures are filled with anxiety, anger, envy, and jealousy (what Paul calls “works of the flesh”).
Jesus taught that our hearts should be focused on the heavenly treasures of the Kingdom of God, not on earthly things. Therefore for a disciple, it would be unwise to plan significant time and effort pursuing much of what earthly governments hold as having significant value. Our treasure, our hearts, and our confidence is in heaven.
2.Christians should look to a different source to provide for their needs.
No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?…
Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will be drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6.24-34
Whenever we are faced with a need or a concern, we are not to look to stronger political leadership. We are to seek His kingdom, trusting that when we do, God will provide us with what we need. To the extent that we seek God, we do not have to worry.
This stands in stark contrast to the governments of this world, who do nothing but worry, for they do not seek God. When Christians serve God as their master, they are freed from pursuing the things that governments of this world pursue.
3.Christians should refuse to judge.
Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7.1-5
Christians are not to judge. This is antithetical to the role and purpose of government (Rom. 13.1-5). The only way a government can enforce any law is to enforce judgment upon those who disobey that law. To seek to reform the world through government power necessitates judgment.
Jesus taught that Christians should seek a different method of addressing sin. Rather than acting as judges, Christians are to regard the sins of others as “specks” as compared to the “log” in their own eye. Paul would go on to actually forbid Christians from judging those who are outside the church (1 Cor. 5.12-13). Among those who are outside the church, we are to be known for our humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, and love (Eph. 4.2; Jas. 4.10-12; 1 Pet. 3.8). We are to follow the example of Jesus by esteeming others are better than ourselves.
4.Christians should seek a different path to greatness.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20.25-28
The quest for power and ruling authority that characterizes the world is not to characterize Christians. The greatest in the kingdom of Christ do not rule; they serve. The world is all about exercising power over others, leading to continual political fights as various parties contend for that power. Christians should have absolutely no desire to take part in these fights.
5.Christians should render to God everything that is rightfully His.
“ Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus perceived their malice and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the pol-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away. – Matthew 22.15-22
This text is frequently misunderstood. For that reason I’ve written two other articles examining the context of the question and of Jesus’ answer. In short, rather than approving of giving service to Caesar, Jesus referred to the “likeness” and “inscription” on the coin, evoking strong references to the law, in which God was proclaimed as the only sovereign ruler of everything. When Jesus said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”, He was sharply challenging his questioners to decide for themselves the question of who rightly deserved their allegiance. If Caesar’s claims to be the rightful ruler of the world were true, then God’s claims to sovereignty were false. If God’s claims to sovereignty were true, the Caesar’s claims were illegitimate. If we really render to God the things that are God’s, there should be nothing left over for Caesar.
6.Christians should recognize that the nations are under demonic influence.
And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall be Yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God and serve Him only.” – Luke 4.6-8
First of all, it is interesting to notice that Jesus never refuted the devil’s claim that all the kingdoms of the world had been handed over to him to give to whomever he wishes. In fact, Jesus frequently referred to Satan as the ruler of the world (John 12.31; 14.30; 16.11). Likewise Paul would later refer to the devil as the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4.4) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2.2). John also understood that “the whole world lies the power of the evil one” (1 John 5.19).
How much trust should Christians place in demonically controlled earthly governments? As much as Jesus did, which is absolutely none.
Interestingly, the reason Jesus declined Satan’s offer was because Jesus understood that we are to serve God and God alone. He understood that serving God seeking political glory are mutually exclusive.
7.Christians should remember that Jesus avoided political/legal disputes.
Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you? Then He said to them, “Beware and be on guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” – Luke 12.13-15
Once again, Jesus is faced with a legal/political question. He responds by asking “Who made me a judge?” Jesus claims that He did not come to judge earthly legal/political disputes. To the contrary, Jesus came to set us free from the sinful foundations of those disputes, such as greed.
Jesus didn’t have anything to say about legal/political/governmental disputes. Neither should we.
8.Christians should maintain sharp distinction from the world.
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. – John 15.18-19
Jesus’s disciples follow a different Lord and Master, and therefore they look at the world in a very different way. Christians are frequently described as being different from the world, or “foreigners”, “exiles”, or “strangers” in the world. (Phil. 1.27; Heb. 11.13; 1 Pet. 1.17; 1 Pet 2.11). As a result, we should not be surprised when the world hates us.
If, however, we are indistinguishable from the world in our values, our ideals, or our methods, we have missed what we are called to be. As we seek to follow Jesus, we should have the same relationship to the surrounding culture and political powers as Jesus had.
9.Christians should refuse to fight like the world fights.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” – John 18.36-37
The reason Jesus didn’t fight for political power is because His kingdom is not of this world. The evidence Jesus gave to prove that His kingdom is not of this world was that His disciples weren’t fighting either.
The world fights, not only with violence, but also with evil speaking towards political opponents.
Disciples of Jesus shouldn’t have any part in these physical or verbal fights (Eph. 4.29-31). To the contrary, everything we do is to be done in love. (1 Cor. 16.14). This is strikingly different from the kingdoms of this world which rely on physical violence and verbal sword swinging to maintain their power and influence.
Jesus taught his disciples to live a different kind of life from the world around them. Jesus never took part in earthly politics. He recognized that the kingdoms of this world were under the influence of Satan. He only sought to build one kingdom: the kingdom of God.
Should we not seek to follow this example of Jesus?