Can I be a Christian and a Republican?
Politics, Religion and being a Christ-follower can be difficult waters to navigate.
Can I be a Christian and a Republican?
In this series of messages, we are going to attempt to answer complex questions with simple answers. There is a great danger is doing so for wisdom dictates that for “every complex question there is a simple answer and it is wrong.” (H.L. Mencken) I think it’s good advice to “beware of those who try to sell you simple answers to complex questions.” (Scott Adams) Well, I am not going to try to sell you anything. But I do want you to think. We’re looking for the simplest answer to questions that have many different moving parts, most have opposite special interests declaring their answer is right, strong opinions abound such that any answer will leave somebody upset. In the current culture if someone disagrees with me that means I am a racist, misogynist, islamophobe, xenophobe, homophobe, intolerant, mean spirited, closed-minded, just plain bad and my favorite a stupid bible thumper. Name-calling is always helpful for discussing complex issues. Oh, I guess I should have added sarcastic to my list of attributes. Regardless, I intend to state a simple answer to a complex question and then explain the position. I suspect you will disagree because my simple answer will be wrong. That’s great, all I ask is that you formulate your own answer and devise an argument that encourages discussion and helps me correct my incorrect understanding.
Today’s question: Can I be a Christian and a Republican? The simple answer is “NO.”
You can’t be a Christian and a Republican and the reason has nothing to do with the stereotypes that most republicans are old, angry white guys, a group of bigoted people who are against social welfare because they are cold-hearted believing you should work and pay for what you want. Or that they think going to war is a reasonable solution to most international problems and they want “guns, guns, guns, all God’s children need guns,” Nor that a Republican demands traditional gender roles, subsequently he is anti-LGBQ, anti- transgendered and anti-unisex bathrooms. Toss in anti-science and pro-Christianity. Neither the fact that Republicans are pro-death penalty and pro-life while being pro-big business, anti-immigration, intensely patriotic God-loving capitalists who exclusively watch Fox News and live in gated communities. These are not the reason you can’t be both a Christian and a Republican.
The reason you can’t be both a Christian and a Republican is that Christians are not citizens of this country.
Philippians 3: 20 (NIV)
“…our citizenship is in heaven.
Ephesians 2:19-20 (NIV)
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
When you acknowledged your life was messed up and believed that only Jesus could make a masterpiece out of your mess, you committed yourself to follow Jesus and asked the Father to accept your faith. In that instance you were born again, parented by the Holy Spirit. You were granted citizenship in the spiritual country in which you were born.
As a citizen of heaven, your agenda is different than a Republican agenda. The Republican agenda includes “restoring the American Dream, restoring a constitutional government, improving infrastructure, and exerting American dominance in the world. If you read the 66 pages of the Republican Platform there is mention of rebuilding the economy and creating jobs, fair and simple taxes, making American competitive, promoting homeownership and small businesses, reducing the federal debt, and balancing the budget, just to mention a few.
That all may read well for you or you may disagree at parts if not all of the platform. But that doesn’t matter because your agenda, your platform, as a citizen of heaven is to promote the values of the Kingdom of God. That’s not saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is not political, politics is about governance. The Kingdom of God has a King who rules the citizens of His Kingdom (Revelation 19:16) and has plans to take over the world (Revelation 11:15).
The problem of politics is people who want to win instead of love. The reason the government of these United States is so often in gridlock is because of the need to win instead of working together for the greatest good. The agenda of the Kingdom is to love and manifesting that love to all (Matthew 22:35-40). You know what love is, it’s treating everyone with respect and seeking to meet their needs as the opportunity arises. The agenda of the Kingdom is righteousness, that everyone enjoys a right relationship with God, with Others, with the Earth and with Themselves. (Romans 5:21). The agenda of the kingdom is justice and liberation for all. The agenda of the Kingdom is peace on Earth and goodwill to all (Col. 3:15).
The Son is praying to the Father:
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
Followers of the Son are not of this world. As we have just read, because of your faith in Christ you are a citizen of heaven and “your conduct must match your citizenship.” (William Barclay) We are to continually present and preserve the culture of the Kingdom. (Lindsey Garmon) As citizens of the Kingdom Christians are to embody the values of where they come from: compassion (Matthew 11:28), Peace (Matthew 5:9), Help (Matthew 25:45), Community (Mark 12:31) and of course ushering in the liberty of the Kingdom to everyone (John 3:16, Matthew 24:14). Forgiveness (Luke 17:1-14), faithfulness (Luke 17:5-6), humility (Like 17: 7-10), Thankfulness (Luke 17:11-19) are all hallmarks of the believer.
Christians are given by God the role of ambassador to others. We are God’s representatives in the nations that He has called us out from (2 Corinthians 5:20–21). Consider the demographic of the Kingdom John’s vision of Jesus:
Revelation 7:9 (MSG)
I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages.
The demographic knows no national boundaries, no gender boundaries, no racial boundaries, no language boundaries. The citizens of the Kingdom are from every economic stratum. The Kingdom is comprised of people from every place and every time. As Ambassadors, we are to “bring the reign and rule of heaven to earth here and now,” “replacing worldly desires with godly desires” “making decisions that reject the values of the world and practice those which honor God (1 John 2:15–17).” Our “politics are spiritual, and as [ambassadors we] look to the interest of that divine republic to which [we ] belong…” with the agenda of “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Spurgeon) This agenda is not a Republican agenda.
The way we accomplish this is not through some foreign political process that we mistakenly refer to as democracy. We accomplish our agenda one soul at a time.
Matthew 28:19-20 (MSG)
Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you.
We forsake power, we forsake coercion, we forsake the need to win and in love tell the truth of the Kingdom (Ephesians 4:15). I’m going to paraphrase Luke 4:18-19 for us, I’m going to make it personal:
As an Ambassador of the Kingdom, God’s Spirit is upon me, I have been chosen to preach the Message of the good news of the Kingdom to the poor; I have been sent to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, I have been commissioned to set the burdened and battered free, and to announce the Lord’s favor.
It is by love, longsuffering and kindness, compassion, and humility, helping that we manifest our responsibility as Christ’s Ambassadors. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15 (NIV). Our task is to bless and be a blessing. Our task is not to correct, but rather invite people into the Kingdom. Our task is not to demand, but to do good to all. Our task is not to argue, but rather to demonstrate with the way we live and the way we speak that all everyone needs is found in the Kingdom and nowhere else.
Christians are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. (Mark 12:17). Believers are resident aliens. As such I think it wise that you be polite. Avoid name-calling and derogatory labeling so common in worldly politics. Consider yourself to be a guest in these United States. Stop criticism and complaints of how the natives do business and be a positive influence by fulfilling your role as Heaven’s Ambassador. While here in this country, we share the Old Testament patriarch Abraham’s experience, who lived “like a stranger in a foreign country, who was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9–10).
Can you be a Christian and a Republican? No. You can’t be a democrat, libertarian or socialist for the same reason. You can’t be a Christian “and” for whatever that “and” is it will seduce you away from your duty as God’s Ambassador. You’re a Christian. Be one.
Don’t forget to vote by March 3.
My name is Mike Boswith and I approve of this message.