Saturday, August 23, 2008

Political Decisions

"Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper" (Jeremiah 29:7).

I have followed politics to one degree or another for most of my life. As a student at Oklahoma Christian University, I minored in social studies, volunteered for a couple of political campaigns, and served as the chairman of one of the political clubs on campus. Over the years, I have searched the Bible for principles to guide me in making political decisions which I would like to share here:

1. The government exists in order to protect innocent people from those who would harm them (Romans 13:1-7). In a democratic republic, ordinary citizens are more responsible for their government than are the subjects of a dictatorship. We are responsible for seeking good leaders and just policies.

2. God's people have an obligation to seek the good of their communities, even if they are a minority within it (Jeremiah 29:7). We may not win every battle--in fact, we may lose most--but love for our neighbors will prompt us to continue our efforts to benefit them.

3. Many political decisions are matters of applying wisdom to differing circumstances. For example, sometimes wisdom demands that taxes be raised (Genesis 41:28-36). At other times, it requires that the burden be lowered (1 Kings 12:1-17). We need humility and wisdom from God to know the best course of action. Also, we need to be gracious toward those who do not see things as we do. They may not have as much information as we do, or they may have more. We need to be open to learning from those we see as our political opponents. Sometimes they are right.

4. On most political issues, God's people can remain quiet. However, when an issue involves an unjust threat to innocent human lives, we cannot keep quiet (Esther 7:3-4). We should risk making enemies (even powerful enemies) in order to save the lives of innocent people. This is the difficult part of loving our neighbors as ourselves, because it would be much easier to live in peace and quiet while others are suffering rather than to take risks on their behalf. We are not likely to be popular, but it is worth the risks in order to help others and to please our Savior.

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