On Sunday, November 28th of this year, Honduras had its presidential elections. This is not unlike elections in the US. Everyone is picking their sides, arguing their political views, or hiding from all who ask them who they are voting for.
In a church service a few weeks ago, I was preaching a sermon on loving God and loving your neighbor. As we talked about loving everyone, even the politicians, a man in the congregation got my attention and asked me a question about politics. In my loose translation, he said, “Since we believe in God who is the King, we don’t have to even pay attention to the politicians and government, right?” I paused to think to make sure I responded well, and said, “We are called to be light in the dark world. This means we enter the darkness to show the Light and we take part in elections to try and be light and find light, but we also submit to authority. In submission to authorities, we prove to even the authorities that we are different from the rest of the world.”
I spoke what I know is true from Scripture. Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:11-17 tells us to submit to governing authorities and that doing so honors God. For the book of Romans, Paul was not writing this at a time when there was peace in the government. Paul wrote this while he was thrown into prison and held on trial for years at length because he taught the Good News of Jesus.
Paul understands if you think, “But Paul, do you know who is governing right now? Do you know what they are doing?” He has seen empires do worse; in fact, it was the government who put Jesus to death (after the religious turned Him over to them). Yet, Jesus’s death has freed us to love all – even politicians. Jesus has promised to provide what we need, so we can submit to authorities and governments and trust in Jesus. We can serve and humble ourselves so that the world (even the politicians) sees us and can’t help but ask why we have done what we do without complaining.
Romans 13:7 says, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
1 Peter 2:17 says, “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
I am still learning this, but I have come to see more and more that the mark of a follower of Jesus is not the “great things” they create, but it is the humility and willingness to serve others. Humility is a characteristic that distinguishes followers of Jesus from the rest of the world.
We are stable in faith because our God is stable, so that means we can serve others often instead of only serving ourselves. God also gives us wisdom and creativity to still accomplish our mission while following the rules put in place (as long as they are not against what the Bible teaches us of course). So may God change all of our hearts to serve, even serving under politicians and policies.