Currently in our country, nothing is more divisive than the subject of politics. A few months ago, as we were going through the study of the book of Romans, we were looking at chapter 13 where Paul gives instructions to Christians concerning governing authorities. One of our women was livid over the lesson declaring that she didn’t care what the Bible said, she would never submit to our current president. To drive home her point, she stopped attending our Wednesday night studies. That is how volatile this subject of politics can be. I find it very interesting that if you are on the proper side of the political issue, you can talk about the subject freely and without fear. You can openly support certain candidates, and you can encourage your people to vote for those candidates. If, however, you are on the wrong side of the political fence and someone takes offense at something that might have been said, a visit from the IRS will be forthcoming.
In this column I am going to delve headlong into the subject. If you are a Christian, there is only one proper political view. That probably has some of you upset already. Trust me, I have heard every argument from both sides of the political fence, and I am going to tell you what the correct political view for the Christian should be, no ifs, ands, or buts.
W.C. Fields, the famous comedian was found reading a Bible. The person who saw him asked him what he was doing. Fields quipped, “I’m looking for loopholes.” In this article I hope to close any political loopholes you may have if you are a believer.
In his letter to the Philippian church, the Apostle Paul hits this subject head-on. If Romans 13 makes you mad, Paul is going to leave us with no doubt regarding the correct political view of the professed believer.
Philippi was an important Roman colony. It was strategically placed and Caesar Augustus had granted the city special status in the Roman Empire. The result of this special status was that the people of the city found themselves fighting for prominence. For example, while Roman law gave certain leaders a recognized legal title, those who held that title were not satisfied with it. There was a higher title they sought; a title they bestowed upon themselves.
Now, the church never exists in a vacuum. It is always the product of its local setting. In Philippi the political nature of the city was influencing the political nature of the church, so Paul writes to correct this aberrant behavior. In our English translations we miss this. King James translates the word Paul uses as “conversation.” When we think of the word conversation, we think of it in terms of a dialogue between people. That is not what it meant in 1611. The word conversation for them meant a way of life. Thus, many modern translations render the word Paul used as “conduct.”
Here’s where it is interesting, because in Philippians 1:27 Paul doesn’t use the typical Greek word for conduct, but he chooses a word from which our word “politics” comes.
Space is growing short, so let me simply state that the reason he chooses this word is not because he is commanding Christians to act a certain way, but he is saying in effect, if you are a Christian it is your responsibility to act as a citizen of heaven.
This then is the proper political bent of believers. We are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of Christ. No ifs, ands, or buts. This is the proper political behavior of the Christian.