According to Scripture, all political power, every last bit of it, has been delegated to men by God.
“There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1).”
When men exercise any political authority whatsoever, they are using authority that is on loan from God. This is true whether they recognize it or not. But whether or not officeholders know where their power comes from, God’s people do.
The same God who gave us the Scripture also gave politicians their political power. And he intends for them to use that power in accordance with his standards for morality and public policy. Those who hold political power are chartered “to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good (1 Peter 2:14).”
As Christians, we know where our politicians get their power. We know the God who gave it to them and we know His will when it comes to public morality. There is no one who should have a greater interest in how politicians use the power of God than the people of God.
Thus, we should be more involved in politics than the average citizen, not less.
Now just because a politician is exercising God’s authority does not mean we must agree with everything he does or obey his every command, because human beings can misuse God’s authority. The prophets frequently excoriated the politicians of their day if they “did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord.” Pastors of today have precisely the same prophetic responsibility.
If politicians do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, they are to be commended. If they do what is evil in the eyes of the Lord, they are to be condemned. As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, pastors in their pulpits are not to be the master nor the servant, but the conscience of a nation.
In America, we have the privilege of choosing our own leaders, a privilege enjoyed by precious few nations in the history of the world. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we elevate wicked men to power.
But this means we also have the enormous privilege of elevating righteous men to power to replace those who abuse God’s authority.
It’s worthy of note that the Scriptures also clearly indicate that holding public office is a sacred function. No less than three times in the first paragraph of Romans 13, the apostle describes those who hold public office as “servants of God” or “ministers of God.”
Twice in v. 4 he uses the word “diakonos,” from which we get the word “deacon.” In Greek, the word means “waiter or servant,” indicating clearly that officeholders – “servants of God” – are there not to aggrandize themselves, but to serve their constituents and do the will of their master, God.
Then in v. 6, Paul uses the Greek word “leitourgos” to describe an officeholder as a “minister of God.” We get our word “liturgy” from this word, which again emphasizes the sacred nature of public service.
So the bottom line is that the work of a public servant is every bit as sacred and holy as the work of pastors. If we take great care in choosing pastors to make sure they are qualified for ministry, we should take the same care in choosing officeholders to make sure that they are qualified for public office.
As Charles Finney said, “The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them.”
When we vote, we are choosing ministers of God. It is incumbent upon us to choose wisely.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)