You’ve probably heard it before – Religion and politics make strange bedfellows. Today though, we’re going to narrow it down to Christianity, rather than religion as a whole. So we end up with Christianity and politics make strange bedfellows. And when we narrow it down like that, the combination of Christianity and politics is even more strange than religion and politics! Why? Because some religions do intentionally have the government, politics and governmental laws, integrated with their theology and religious laws.
I’ll say right up front, that is not the case with Christianity. It may be hard to believe these days, based on what we see happening around us, but it’s undeniably true. I’ll even go so far as to say I see why it happens. However, I still don’t believe it should. We’ll see why as we go along.
I will say one thing though. The central question is one of choice. Keep that in mind as we proceed.
The choices between Christianity and politics
The first time I wrote this, I did not include one passage that’s probably the most expected one to see here. This time, it’s front and center. Why? Because I decided to focus on choice. The choices every Christian must make as we navigate the various positions held by Christianity and politics. Make no mistake about it. They are in conflict. And we must choose one of the other. All I can say for now, choose carefully!
With those thoughts in mind, let’s look at the obvious passage for this topic.
Paying Taxes to Caesar
22:15-22 pp — Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:20-26
Of course, it’s the one about paying taxes. No one likes to pay taxes. And it out religion can be a convenient way to avoid them, why not try to take advantage of it? Well, remember what I said about choices? Check out these choices.
Mt 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.
Mt 22:18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
Mt 22:21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Mt 22:22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
It was a trap!
Mixing Christianity and politics leads to lots of traps
Conclusion – Christianity and politics make strange bedfellows
Yes, the Bible does tell us about Christianity and politics. Actually, Christianity and anything. And in this “Final Instructions” section, Paul tells us a lot. Like:
21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.
So yeah – we should look at things and come to conclusions. But then, before acting on those conclusions, or before just going off without thinking, we should test everything to be sure it’s good. Good in God’s eyes. As part of God’s overall plan. Not that we’ll know for sure what that plan is. We won’t. But God did give us the Holy Spirit to help us discern, among other things, the truth. And remember what Jesus said –
The Greatest Commandment – Matthew
22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31
Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
God gave us our heart, our soul, and our mind. We should, and must, use all of them in everything we do. Including the political stuff, to be sure what we do is really in line with what Jesus taught, and not what someone else says or what our selfish desires tell us.
I know, especially over the past few years, a lot of you don’t like this message. However, it’s a message offered out of love. Out of a concern for your eternal soul. Truth be told, it’s a message that is sometimes depressing. Mournful.
Do you want to know why it’s a message that comes with mourning? If so, then I invite you to check out Blessed are those who mourn. And if that speaks to you, or even if it doesn’t, I hope it gets you to read the whole series on The Beatitudes. It really gets into the section of The Sermon On The Mount that is often called Jesus’ manifesto. It seems very appropriate, given that we’re looking at Christianity and politics.
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