When the movie, American Sniper, quickly became a box office smash, Michael Moore (film maker and extreme critic of anything conservative) sarcastically said, "Since it is Sunday, perhaps we should ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’, or, ‘Who would Jesus snipe’?" Although I don't know or judge his heart’s motive, I doubt that Mr. Moore makes it a habit of asking “WWJD” about any area of his life.
To ask, "What would Jesus do?" in view of the politics of American Sniper or any civil government function, is a very misguided and erroneous way of thinking. It's a great mistake to try to apply the principles of the New Covenant to actually governing our country or any other. New Covenant principles should govern the way we live our lives, regardless of what we do for a living or where we live. But they cannot be used to run a civil government made up of unregenerated people.
Agape love is both the overriding guide and the internal power that enables believers to live by New Covenant principles. Everything commanded and expected in the New Covenant relies on “Christ in me”. Only He, living in and through us, can produce the ability to live together as the people of God. You cannot run a civil government that requires the miracle of “Christ in me” if the Spirit of Christ is not living in every citizen.
Civil Government Is Not Part of The New Covenant
The apostles NEVER taught how to run a civil government. The Kingdom of God is meant to flourish in any nation, any tribe, any form of civil government, because it is a spiritual kingdom where Jesus rules as King in the hearts of people, growing His image and character within them, no matter where they live. Jesus never taught how to run a civil, secular government. And other than for a relatively short period of time in Old Testament Israel, all nations are civil and secular governments.
When Christ returns, ALL nations will become His and ALL unrighteousness will be banished forever! Until then, Paul's instructions in Romans 13 are a good place to start in understanding how to be a good citizen in any civil government.
Caesar Is Lord or Christ Is Lord
Nero was Caesar over the Roman Empire from 54-68 AD. He believed he was a “god” come to earth to be worshiped as “lord”. Statues and images of Nero were built for objects of worship and allegiance. He despised Christians because of their allegiance to Christ as Lord.
What he couldn't understand was that the very allegiance he despised would actually make Christians better citizens in the Empire because of their love for the poor, their desire to live justly and their honor of authority. Both Peter and Paul wrote, "Honor Caesar". How to actually do that requires allowing the King to rule within our hearts and guide us through the complicated process of being a "good citizen", no matter where we live.
If you live in a voting democracy, then you should vote as wisely as you can. You are not electing a national pastor, but someone who has quality character AND the ability to lead, negotiate AND the ability to compromise for the "greater good in a fallen world".
“What Should We Do?”
John the Baptist, preparing the way for the King, was asked by sincere, repentant people, "What should we do?" In Luke 3:10-14, he answered, "Share what you have with the poor". To tax collectors working for Rome he said, "Collect no more than you are ordered". To Roman soldiers he said, "Don't take money by force, or accuse anyone unjustly and be content with your wages". What he didn’t say, to any of these groups, was “quit”.
We hear rousing sermons about David who “killed his ten thousands”. And when told the price of Saul’s daughter was “100 foreskins of the Philistines”, David brought back 200! We are told to honor David’s mighty men who were ranked by how many enemies they personally killed. The unsanitized truth is that those were extremely bloody times. But human history, because of the Fall, has always been bloody; and will be until the true King returns!
Love, Understanding and Suicide Bombers
As a young, inexperienced and naive hippie, newly converted in 1968, I thought our country should respond to international aggression and force with flowers, love and understanding. Oh, the shallow musings of the inexperienced and naive. How do you show love and understanding to people who believe eternal paradise is theirs if they slaughter us; all of us? How do we “turn the other cheek” to those who highest aim in life is to kill all who do not agree with them?
I’ve been around the world several times in the past few years and I’ve seen many different forms of civil government. I love my country and I am deeply grateful for being born in America. I do my best to be an informed voter and I do hope our elected officials will do whatever is necessary to keep us safe.
The Return of the King!
But after 65 years of living in a falling world, seeing the failure of both Democrats and Republicans, the collapse of the USSR, the fall of the Berlin wall and the horrific rise of Islamic extremists, I do not fool myself into thinking any human politics will bring the Kingdom of God. Only the return of the King will do that.
And though I have no idea when (and neither does anyone else!), I am absolutely convinced He is returning to earth. And when He does, the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdoms of our God. Until then, Romans 13 gives us important guidelines no matter where we live, no matter what kind of government we live under.
1 Tim 2:1-3- “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks. 2 Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity.” NLT
Mark Drake is an internationally known author, teacher and leader. He focuses on equipping leaders around the world in New Covenant Grace.