It is almost inevitable that, at some point in the life of a disciple of Christ, one will find oneself in a situation where a very specific decision will have to be made - "do I do what my fellow-man wants me to do?" or "do I do what God wants me to do?"

Such situations actually occur daily in the life of a believer and the decision to obey God is made almost unconsciously. God said 'do not steal' and 'do not bear false witness' and a true follower of Christ would no more consider stealing or lying than committing murder.

But, in the matter of politics, guidelines are not quite so well defined. Nowhere is it recorded in Scripture that, as a disciple, one must not get involved with governments or ruling powers; that one 'must not stand for parliament' or 'must not vote'. And when guidelines are less than clear-cut, it is important for the disciple to read the Bible as a whole and take instruction from both the examples given by the very first followers of Christ as recorded in the New Testament and from the guidelines laid down by God Himself as recorded in the Old Testament.

When God selected a people for Himself, providing them with the land of Israel, He gave them priests to direct worship, Levites to teach, judges to administer justice, and kings to rule. But it was not a democracy. God was the overall authority. He imposed His law on His people and He expected them to obey.

"Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:"(Exodus 19:5)

And the Israelites agreed.

"...All that the LORD hath spoken we will do..."(Exodus 19:8)

Nevertheless, as God provided the laws so He provided the blessings and the cursings. When the Israelites obeyed Him, He blessed them. When they disobeyed Him, He punished them.

Sadly, as history shows, the Israelites continued to disobey God and were eventually disinherited (albeit temporarily) because of their disobedience. The people were taken into captivity and the Babylonian Empire as it was then overtook the nation of Israel.

By the time Jesus was born, however, what had been the land of Israel was part of the Roman Empire and the subjugated Jews yearned to be free from the control of the Romans. But at no time did Jesus encourage his followers to rebel or rise up against the ruling powers in order to restore the kingdom to the Israelites/Jews. Instead, he made it very clear that his disciples were to endure wrong, to refrain from aggression and to cultivate an attitude of service rather than overseer-ship.  Jesus spoke the words of God. His authority came directly from his Father.

"For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak."(John 12:49)

Although in the world, Jesus and his disciples were not to be of the world. They were in effect sojourners - temporary residents - because the Kingdom that God had promised to give Jesus was "not of this world". Had it been "then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews"(John 18:36).

Nor did the situation change when Jesus had been raised from the dead and had ascended into heaven. His followers - both Jews and Gentiles - were not to meddle in politics or concern themselves with the ruling powers. Their job first and foremost was to preach the Gospel - the good news of the coming Kingdom of God and the hope of everlasting life for those granted a place in that Kingdom.

And so it is today for, although disciples of Christ live in a world controlled by men and women who care nothing for the laws of God, they recognise that all authority given to man ultimately comes from God. He it is who 'ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will' (Daniel 4:32).  So it is their duty to subject themselves to these ruling powers, to keep the laws of the land and to pay their taxes (Romans 13:1-7), bearing in mind that, if there is a conflict of loyalties, 'We ought to obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29).

To the disciple, Jesus is King and any involvement in the politics of this world is incompatible with the belief in Christ's return and the allegiance owed to him as King. That does not mean to say that one should not be concerned about the difficulties faced by one's fellow men and women and that one should not try to help them, but it is not the disciple's prerogative to try to address the social, economic and political problems faced by man.

Such problems will continue to increase, indeed worsen, but human governments will not be able to bring about any form of lasting resolution to these difficulties. Jesus prophesied that things would degenerate from bad to worse in 'the last days' prior to his coming and it is therefore impossible for a disciple to believe his words and at the same time become involved in human politics in the vain attempt to 'make things better'.

Only the return of Jesus with his angels will put to right this wicked and corrupt world.

The only way to find out more about how we should lead our lives and how we should love God and each other is to read His word, the Bible.   We have a Free Bible reading course which we hope will help you in your reading and understanding of the Bible.

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