In Matthew 22:15-22, there is an engagement of wits between Jesus and his opponents, the Pharisees. The Pharisees sought to ‘entangle him in his talk’. Hypocritically using a blend of Jewish patriotism and religion, they pose to Jesus the question of taxes to the Roman government. Their true motive was to whip up public anger against Jesus by getting him to espouse loyalty to their overlords, these Romans, and also try to move him to get himself in trouble with the Romans by possibly speaking against taxation and the Emperor’s rule in general. Either way, they thought Jesus would lose. Pathetic schemers! Take on the Divine Mind, hoping for entrapment? Really!? Jesus’ incontestable answer in verse 21 ‘…render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are Gods.’ He not only buried their feeble attempt at entrapping him, he laid down a principle that helps guide us in our current affairs.
Jesus understood there were two worlds in which Christians operate - God’s world and man’s world. Obviously, God’s world will dictate believer’s response should there is an irresolvable conflict between the two - Acts 5:29, ‘we ought to obey God rather than men’; and this, just one directive of an exhaustive list from scripture. ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ - another defining principle for the Christian; God’s world takes precedence over this present world.
Yet, no ungodly demands being present, the Christian is compelled, also by a long list of scriptural examples, to live and engage lawfully in the political structure of his society. Daniel did so under Babylonian and Persian rule; Moses had to contend with the Egyptian governmental structure; Joseph also, hundreds of years before Moses; we’ve already seen Jesus’ angle on it; also, the New Testament church of Acts. Apostle Peter put it down in scripture ‘Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.’ (1Peter 2:17). The political world, as far as possible without compromise, was part of the life of the church; they lived in these two worlds.
And so, here we are in an election year, 2016. As Christians, we are to be salt and light, which must contact (salt) and shine uncovered (light) in this present world. We are responsible to be any kind of godly influence we can be. Voting is one of those influences. I do not believe the church should become a politically active body; but neither are we to disengage and play the recluse in political matters, for rendering a vote is rendering unto Caesar. Elections make statements on, and create moral environments; we are wrong to take ourselves out of the opportunity for such an impact. Yes, it is a delicate balance to be that salt and light and remain non-politicized; and emphatically yes, we too often do not have a clear, Christian choice, and must wince and vote. But to lock ourselves out of voting by some misguided, idealistic but unrealistic altruism, is to give over the power to impact the moral climate to those who are not at all concerned with ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.
No, we will never politically bring revival. That is a supernatural God event. No, the church should not reduce herself to a political player. But screaming from the rooftops, we Christians must get out there and be a voice, speaking by ballot. Choose the candidate that most closely aligns with Biblical values (yes, I know, I said earlier sometimes the best we have is a wince and a vote) - not party, not tradition, not special interest groups.
In politics, sadly and painfully it is true; if we say it’s all or nothing, nothing is what we’ll get. Render unto Caesar - vote - and trust God to take care of the rest.