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Ambassadors of a Higher Country: Christians, Politics, and the Imago Dei

"Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." ~ 1 Peter 2:17

In the United States of America, politics has most certainly become an idol for many of its citizens, including Christians. Newsfeeds, social media, and streaming services have all been used to push the political agenda of one side of the aisle or the other. One could not get onto YouTube for the first 10 months of 2020 without seeing a political advertisement. What is stunning is that the advertisement actually worked as Americans continue to verbally support or attack politicians, taking to the streets in protest. No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the political tension within the nation.

I write for my fellow believers, on both sides of the aisle, as I seek to admonish and give some sort of guidance as we navigate the divided times in which we live. So often, even as Christians, we give ourselves over to partisanship to the point where, when a fellow believer holds a view different than our own, we anathematize them in a Facebook post or an anonymous blog post. Furthermore, I also recognize that some of my readers live in a country, such as Brazil or Germany, where the political system is not quite like the one in the United States. While I write primarily in my own context here in the U.S., the truths which I am about to share can be considered universally. As we engage in politics, we as Christians must realize what we are called to ultimately stand for, who we represent, and the people with whom we engage.

Stand for The Truth

Absolute truth exists, regardless of what post-modernism asserts. Moreover, Ephesians 6 reminds us that we are at a full-scale war not against flesh and blood, but against Satan, the prince of lies and against the prince and power of the air. The devil prevails over this world, blinding it to the light of the source of truth which is God's Word. Not only does the devil deceive us, but our own hearts deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). In this great war, we as ambassadors of the majesty of God wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, which is truth (John 17:17).

When we come to political discussions and disagreements, we as Christians must remind ourselves not to hold fast to philosophies or agendas more than we hold on to God's Word. The U.S. Constitution, though it may contain many truths, cannot be held onto as our source of truth. Why? Because it is fallible and will fail those who put their trust in it. Political agendas (Democrat or Republican) may have truthful aims, but they will ultimately fail those who put there trust in them. Why? Because, in the end, they will not save from our greatest problem: sin.

Admittedly, there are many great and truthful causes, movements, and people to rally behind. But as Christians, our hope and trust should not ultimately rest on such things. For they will fail. We must not plant our feet on shifting sand. Rather, our trust should be placed solely on the rock God's Word as it alone will last forever. "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God will stand forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

Remember Who You Represent

Everyone represents someone. Each man in fact represents himself. One's words and actions ultimately reflect who he is as a person. If you lie, you represent yourself as a liar. If you steal, you represent yourself as a thief. And if you slander, you represent yourself as a slanderer. You, dear reader, stand before a world of 7 billion witnesses. How will you represent yourself to them? For what actions or what words will they remember you?

Not only does one represent himself, but he also represents the community around him. A city can become known because of one movie star that lived in it. A small town can be remembered because of an infamous murderer who grew up there. Believers do not only represent a political party or movement. We as Christians must realize that we represent the Church. When you open your mouth in public, and the people around you know that you are a believer, you represent not only yourself, but also the Church. Such a realization should cause us to hesitate before we open our mouths to speak.

Ultimately, believers must recognize that they not only represent themselves and the Church, but they also serve as ambassadors for the majesty of God. Jesus states that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). As a kingdom and priests to our God, we represent God to this world. When they see us, they should see Him. Christ commands us to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:43). Speak "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15), and if you say you love God and yet hate your brother, you are a liar (1 John 4:20). As we engage politically, we should always remember that we ultimately represent the God who saved us. We should be known by His love, kindness, and mercy.

Recognize the Image of God--In Everyone

C.S. Lewis writes in his book, The Weight of Glory, "there are no ordinary people." We live, breath, and talk with immortals. He explains: "nations, cultures, arts, civilisations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours" (Lewis 46). Sadly, Lewis's words fall on deaf ears in today's society as people attack each other with their words, tearing them down as an image bearer, and giving fairer complements to their dogs than to their fellow other humans.

Christians should recognize that each person, regardless of any difference, possesses the indelible mark of God's likeness on their being. Furthermore, as we deal with elected officials, we must not only recognize them as image bearers but also as ones who have been placed in authority over us. Even though we may disagree with someone over policies, or even their worldview, we are commanded by the Scriptures to "honor everyone" (1 Peter 2:17). No exceptions.

Part of recognizing the image of God within other human beings sometimes means sitting down and having a discussion with them. Discussions, not demagogues, challenge the minds and hearts of each participant to grow. As Christians, our hope in every discussion should be for the Gospel to be manifested (either implicitly or explicitly) and for God to be glorified.


Politics pervade and permeate almost every aspect of life within the United States. Although it may be easier to simply stick our heads in the sand, our call as ambassadors of God's majesty and as soul-winners require us to engage with society. And that means, at times and in various ways, engaging in politics. How we engage with others in this matter can affect our ability to shine as lights this dark world. If you slander an elected official and fail to pray for them, there is no promise from Scripture that you will lead a quiet and peaceful life (see 1 Timothy 2:2). But if you seek peace, redemption, and change within the world around you, start by standing firm on God's Word, the Truth which will never fail. And as you recognize the image of God in those with whom you disagree, look to shine the Truth of the Gospel into their hearts. In doing so, you serve as an ambassador for a King of a country which is far beyond anything we could ever imagine.

Bibliography/Recommended Reading

Lewis, C.S. The Weight of Glory. New York: HarperCollins, 1949.

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