Should Christians get involved in politics?
(Editor's Note: This essay is an edited version of the sermon delivered by Robert Jeffress at the Lamb & Lion annual Bible conference which was held in June of this year. Jeffress is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas. The sermon is based on his book, Twilight's Last Gleaming, published in 2011 and available on Amazon.com. The sermon is available in full in our DVD album, Living on Borrowed Time.)
Christians and Politics
Let me ask you three questions: Do you believe that God cares about 50 million children being murdered in the womb? Do you think God has any opinion about that? Do you think that God cares about the rampant immorality that is sweeping our land? Do you think that God cares at all about His name being outlawed from mention in the public square? If you've answered yes, you have just explained why Christians ought to be involved in politics.
You see, in the Old Testament times it was the king who determined the spiritual direction of the nation. If he was a righteous king, God blessed the nation. If he was an unrighteous king, God cursed the nation. But as John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said, "God has given us the privilege of selecting our leaders." And it is the duty and preference of Christians to prefer and select Christians as their leaders.
Every time I use that quote the liberals go crazy, but those were the words of the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It is our duty to prefer and select Christians as our leaders. Every time you go into the voting booth, you are either casting a vote for righteousness or for unrighteousness. And if we're going to push back against this evil we have to get involved — not to save America because we are not going to save America. But we can delay our nation's collapse if we get involved.
Why Push Back?
The reason we want to buy more time for America is so we as Christians can fulfill our ultimate calling as believers, as stated by Jesus in Matthew 5:14 — "You are the light of the world." Listen, God has not called us to save America. God has called us to save Americans from the coming judgment of God. The only way that can happen is by introducing them to a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason we want to buy time for our culture is so that we have the opportunity to do just that.
Do you understand that is the reason that God has left you here right now? Have you ever wondered why is it that God didn't rapture you to Heaven the moment He saved you instead of leaving you here in this sin-filled world? I mean think about it, if God's only goal is to have fellowship with you, couldn't He have much better fellowship with you in Heaven than He has here on earth with you, where you are distracted by the things of the world? No, the only reason God has delayed His gratification, so to speak, in having a perfect relationship with you and me is so that we can fulfill His agenda, not ours.
God has not left you or me here to build a bulging portfolio, to have a successful business, or even to have a happy family life. The only reason God has left you and me here is to win as many people to faith in Jesus Christ as possible before He returns. That's the reason we've been left here. And let me tell you, when you understand that, it gives you a whole different way of looking at what is happening in the world right now.
I think about the Apostle Paul. I just came back from taking a group to Greece where we retraced Paul's second missionary journey. We went to the city of Philippi where the church was located that Paul wrote to from Rome where he was imprisoned. Paul said, "I don't want you to be upset about my situation. My situation has turned out for the progress of the Gospel."
Now listen, if the Apostle Paul had the goals of most Christians — peace, prosperity, pleasure, and the avoidance of pain — if his life goal had been that of most of us, then Paul's imprisonment was a tremendous tragedy. It was a detour from peace, prosperity, pleasure and the avoidance of pain. But you see, Paul had a bigger purpose in life. His purpose was the spreading of the Gospel, and that gave him a whole different perspective from which to view the difficulties he was facing. He said, "I'm rejoicing in this." And then he exhorted the Philippians to do the same.
You know, the Philippians lived in a much more decadent, anti-Christian environment then we do. They lived in the Roman Empire. Nero was the emperor at that time. But you know what Paul said? He said, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice." And he said in chapter 2 to the Philippians, "I want you Philippians in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation to be children of light, holding out the Word of Life."
A Fundamental Principle About Light
You know why Paul said we could rejoice in the culture in which we are living, even though it may be very wicked? He understood a very simple principle — the darker the background, the brighter the light.
I experienced an illustration of that not long ago. I was helping my younger daughter celebrate a special occasion in her life. I said, "Dorothy, I'll take you to the mall and get you anything you want." Now when I said, "anything you want," I had in mind going to a shop like Forever 21 and getting a $20 or $30 dress. So, we go over to North Park Shopping Center and she leads me right past Forever 21 and right into a jewelry store! We're standing there in front of the counter, and the salesman approaches, looks at my daughter and says, "Good to see you again." At that moment, I knew I'd been had! He said, "Would you like to look at that ring you were looking at yesterday?" She said, "Yes."
So he went back and brought forth a little tray with different rings on it and picked out the one she had been looking at. Before he sat it down on the plexiglass counter he took a piece of black velvet, spread it out on the counter and then took that ring and plopped it right in the center of the black velvet. The contrast between that black velvet and the light emitting from the ring was so stark it almost blinded me to the price, not quite, but it almost did. You see, that salesman understood a fundamental principle: the darker the background, the brighter the light.
The Opportunity Provided by Darkness
Listen, we are living in dark days today, no doubt about it. I'm telling you if your goal in life is peace, prosperity, pleasure and the avoidance of pain, you have every right to be discouraged. You know, so many Christians today are such poor advertisements for the Gospel because they are so downbeat and they are so pessimistic. They send all these depressing e-mails to one another and to me in which they describe all the terrible things happening in our nation.
When somebody gets down about our nation and the situation we are in, many times it simply shows they have the wrong life purpose. Because if it's about us and our pleasure, and our peace, and our prosperity, and avoidance of pain, then these are terrible times in which to live. But if your goal is the same as the Apostle Paul, to share the Gospel with as many people as possible, there could never be a better time to be alive than today, right now. Because the truth is, the darker the background, the brighter the light. The more hopeless this world becomes the brighter the hope of Jesus Christ shines.
So which is it? Are we to be salt? Are we to get involved in politics and try to push back against evil? Or, are we to be light involved in evangelism and sharing the Gospel? It's not an either-or answer. It is both-and. God has called us to do both. He has called us to be balanced. But please don't equate that word balanced with passive. This is not time for Christians living in America to be passive.
I'm reminded of the words of William Watkins in his book, The New Absolutes. He wrote, "As Christians we must reject the new tolerance and become a people marked by intolerance. Not an intolerance that unleashes hate upon people. But an intolerance that is unwilling to allow error to masquerade as truth any longer. An intolerance that is willing to stand up and call evil, evil and good, good." May God grant us the courage to do just that.