How Should Christians Relate to Politics

May 2, 2021

David Sorn

Luke chapter 20 brings us to a hot-button topic, but one we could definitely use direction on: How should a follower of Jesus interact with politics?

How Should Christians Relate to Politics

May 2, 2021

David Sorn

Luke chapter 20 brings us to a hot-button topic, but one we could definitely use direction on: How should a follower of Jesus interact with politics?



All right, that was fun and light-hearted, so let’s get your blood pressure up…let’s talk about politics…in church.

Okay, actually settle down a bit.

I’m not going to dive into political issues or platforms or anything like that.

I’m a Bible teacher.

My job is to help you how to understand God’s Word and teach you how to be an apprentice, a follower of Jesus.

But as we continue in our study of the Book of Luke in the Bible, Jesus today is going to talk to us about a very important question

First of all, everybody grab a Bible so you can see this:

(Page 718)

(Renovation App)

Jesus is going to talk today about how His followers should relate to the state…or to the government…or to politics…whatever you’d like to call it

This is a massively important question for Christians in America in the year 2021.

People have all sorts of different opinions on how Christians should interact with the government and politics

We’re going to read it in a second, but let me say this:

This is an ENORMOUS topic.

We could spend 10 weeks on it.

So don’t send me emails that say, “You didn’t say this!”

“You’re right. You made an excellent point. And I totally would have if I had more than 30 minutes”

See, I already answered your email? ☺

Okay, let’s take a look

(Luke 20:20-26) – NIV

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.


Okay, let’s first look at what these opponents are trying to do and let’s also try and understand some of the historical context around Caesar, a denarius, taxes and all that

These opponents of Jesus are convinced that they have trapped him with this question of “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar?”

See, in those days, the people of Israel had been occupied by Caesar and the Roman Empire

So much so, that Israel, instead of being its own government led by God or prophets or even its own King…now is occupied by Rome and forced to pay taxes to Caesar

And Jesus’ opponents are convinced that they’ve trapped Jesus with a question about Rome…BECAUSE…

If Jesus says, “Yes, pay taxes to Rome,”

Then his thousands of followers are probably going to leave him.

They hate Rome…they hate paying taxes to Caesar…they want to be independent again.

And If Jesus says, “no, don’t pay taxes to Rome”

Then as verse 20 said, “They were ready to hand him over to the power & authority of the governor”

The Roman Governor, Pilate, could have branded Jesus as an insurrectionist and could have gotten rid of Him right then and there if Jesus said “no, don’t pay taxes”


And in a dramatic moment, Jesus says, “Show me a denarius”

A denarius was a Roman coin that was worth about a day’s wages for a laborer

And then Jesus says “Whose image and inscription are on it”

“Caesar’s” they replied

“Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”

He’s saying: If Caesar paid for those coins to be made (which history tells us he did)…

If he distributed those coins, and you’re using those coins…then give back to Caesar what is his.

Jesus affirms that the government can make and does make legitimate requests of us because of their authority and the services they provide to us.

And God’s inspired Word calls Christians to obey the authorities and be subject to them.

And that is a whole other message, which, maybe we should do some day.

But if you’re going, “What?! Does the Bible teach that?”

I want you to go home and do your own Bible study (you can do this!)

Read Romans chapter 13 in your Bible which tells us to be subject to the governing authorities

And read the 2nd half of Acts Chapter 5, which is the exception clause for when Christians should not obey the authorities

And there are times and places where that is necessary

Many Chinese Christians disobey the government every week by going to secret underground churches.

Listen, I think, this is a great opportunity for you to study God’s Word

Take me up on it!

But the basic point of what Paul Teaches and what Jesus is teaching is: Be subject to your leaders…even the government ones.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s


But what about the other parts of your life?

Because Jesus does say: “And Give to God what is God’s”

And if the coin has Caesar’s image stamped on it, what image do you have on your soul?

I’ll tell you:

This is right in the very first chapter of the first Book of the Bible, Genesis

(Genesis 1:27) – NIV

So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

You…are God’s.

He made you in his image.

You are not God, just as an image of Caesar on a coin is not Caesar

But you are like God.

You were made in His image.

And you are His.

In fact everything is God’s

That’s the point of Jesus’ brilliant answer.

If Caesar made the coin, sure, give it back to him

But God made everything (including you!), so truthfully everything is for GOD

The authorities in government have merely been put in place by God, and so any authority those government leaders have is underneath God’s authority…

If you’re a CEO of an organization with 100 employees, some of those employees are managers, and they have authority over those who work under them.

But the CEO still has authority over the whole organization, right?

This world has many governments, many Caesars, many leaders, but God is still the CEO.

And therefore, Jesus is teaching here that your life, is not ultimately for Caesar (he’s just in middle-management), it is first and foremost for God


And if we’re going to Biblically answer this tricky question of “How Should Christians relate to Politics (or the government)”, we need to understand this very concept.

We have to see our responsibility to the government within our primary responsibility to God

That’s exactly what Jesus is teaching to his followers:

“Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (which is, well, everything)

And people have been misunderstanding this concept for 2,000 years now.

We look at society around us and we can see that it’s broken.

And rather than look first to God to fix it…too often we put too much of our hope in middle-management.

If you go back to Jesus’ time, there were essentially four different camps, four different philosophies on how people should interact with society (which was being heavily influenced by the occupying Romans at the time)

And then Jesus added a 5th philosophy to the mix:

5 Groups/Philosophies on How to Interact with Society:

Essenes: Withdraw from Society

The Essenes were the people who were so fed up with the Romans and their pagan culture, that they completely withdrew from society.

They lived…off the grid if you will…out in the desert…and formed their own society as to not be touched by the influence of the culture around them.

5 Groups/Philosophies on How to Interact with Society:

Essenes: Withdraw from Society

Zealots: Overthrow Society

Next were the Zealots.

These folks wanted a revolution.

They wanted to fight the Romans (literally)…and bring change to their culture through violent conquest

5 Groups/Philosophies on How to Interact with Society:

Essenes: Withdraw from Society

Zealots: Overthrow Society

Sadducees: Adapt to Society

Next are the Sadducees

These folks basically acquiesced to Roman rule and culture.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

They simply adapted their values and beliefs to fit with the Romans, and doing so, gave them status and power

5 Groups/Philosophies on How to Interact with Society:

Essenes: Withdraw from Society

Zealots: Overthrow Society

Sadducees: Adapt to Society

Pharisees: Reestablish the Old Ways of Society

And the last group was the Pharisees.

They thought society would be fixed if they could just get everybody back to the old Jewish ways of obeying the law and becoming moral again.

And they didn’t believe that came from spiritual change (like Jesus), but from people following laws and rules.

Now, what’s fascinating about this, is that while the groups certainly change over time & place, these philosophies for how to engage with society are seen all throughout history.

And even across the globe today.

Take the “withdraw from society” group for instance.

Plenty of people today still withdraw from society like the Essenes did

The Amish are a perfect example of this.

I see more and more Christians that try and completely segregate themselves from all non-believers and their influence

These folks want zero engagement with society.

Secondly, there are zealots all over the world today.

Myanmar just had coup were the military is trying to overthrow society and culture

It’s happening ALL over Africa…all the time.

This idea to change society isn’t spiritual, and it isn’t even to vote in a different party, it’s to have the military take over and install a different party.

And the last 2 are very common in Western societies.


One group thinks that if we evolve our views with the changing society, their country will be a better place

…while the other group thinks if we could just go back to how it used to be, their country would be a better place.

Now, I’m generalizing a bit here for the sake of time, but the point I want you to see is that because these philosophies are still so prevalent..

Most people nowadays (even Christians) feel that if they’re going to make a difference in the world, it has to come through the government

Because notice: With the exception of the 1st group, every group here feels that they need to have POWER OVER a group to create change.

But you read the Gospels, and the way of Jesus is very different.

His power always comes from UNDER...not over.

He constantly resists the temptation (even from Satan himself) to assert power over the Kingdoms of the world.

Jesus doesn’t fight Rome or take over the Roman government, he lets Rome kill Him.

His change to society would come another way.

And we see this play out with the early Christians.

What’s fascinating is the Roman Empire doesn’t bow it’s knee to Christ by the 4th century because Christians won enough seats in the Roman Senate and got “power over everyone else”

No, Christians lived out the Gospel in both word and deed and it changed the world.

Revival doesn’t come from any of those first 4 ways.

Let me put words to the way in which the Christian is to interact with society (and this will help us eventually understand how to interact with politics)

5 Groups/Philosophies on How to Interact with Society:

Essenes: Withdraw from Society

Zealots: Overthrow Society

Sadducees: Adapt to Society

Pharisees: Reestablish the Old Ways of Society

Christians: Be Ambassadors for Jesus within Society

The Christian is to be first and foremost and ambassador of Jesus WITHIN society.

(2 Corinthians 5:20a) – NIV

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

We are citizens of the United States, but first and foremost, citizens of heaven - Philippians 3:20


We are strangers in this strange land…

Pilgrims passing through on the way to our final destination.

And our first allegiance is to the King of Heaven.

Whose image is stamped on you?


A political party?

No, God’s image.

And therefore, your greatest concern is not to the will of middle management in establishing their Kingdom.

Your greatest concern is that God’s Kingdom would be established.

That His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

And as His ambassadors, we want to live for Him in WORD & DEED every day and in every way.


But let me tell you something, church, we are missing this in our day

We have taken politics, which is a good thing, but a secondary thing, and we have made it a primary thing.

We have become convinced by one of those other philosophies…that change must come from getting power OVER others.

And we feel like that must come through middle-management.

Christians in America are immersing themselves in the world of politics in a way they never have before

They’re reading about it, watching political TV, listening to political podcasts…political stuff on YouTube…hours a day…hours & hours a day

We spend very little time with God and his word, but hours a day consuming political content.

It’s like again, we’re obsessed with fulfilling the wishes of these middle managers, but we’ve forgotten about our CEO

And for many of you in this room, this obsession is consuming you.

Your anxiety is up…way up.

Your anger is up.

And the great irony of the state of politics in America is we spend 100 hours a month immersing ourselves in politics and 0 hours a month actually doing anything about it.

You ever think about that?

I mean, yes, you can vote once every few years, and you can be more politically active, but 98% of people spend 100 hours a month thinking about politics and 0 hours doing anything about it.

I’m amazed by how bold people are with their politics nowadays.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met in the past 12 months who started talking to me about politics within minutes of meeting them

Lately I’ve been thinking…if we instead spent 100 hours a month thinking about and talking with Jesus, we’d probably actually be bold to talk about Jesus instead.

But the reason we spend SO much time reading, listening, & thinking about politics and not even doing anything about it, is because most of us don’t actually live by that Christian worldview (we don’t live first as an ambassador for our CEO)

Deep down, we don’t truly believe that society most deeply changes when we are ambassadors for Christ WITHIN society…

Proclaiming and showing Jesus to the world…

Instead, we live by one of those other philosophies that are concerned first & foremost with getting POWER OVER.

I find that most Americans just believe that as long as THEIR CAESAR, the one they voted for is in power, then things are okay.

And what we’re most deeply afraid of is not having the right people in office to have POWER OVER society.

Christian, let go of your fixation about which middle manager will get POWER over society.

Go back to focusing again on the one ABOVE who created and has power over all things.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s

Go back to spending your time focusing on being His ambassador in the world.

I’m not putting down politics. I’m really not. It has its place.

So many good laws have been passed that have helped so many people.

Legislation really is important. It truly is.

And for some of you, God will call you into politics or already has

And you will fight to pass laws that are Godly, and you will start non-profits that will work with politicians to advocate for the poor, the unborn, the widow, the foreigner, those whom God cares deeply about.

That’s being an ambassador too

Ambassadors don’t just talk, they act.

That’s part of how you will LIVE OUT the Gospel.

But remember, please remember…

(this is the stuff we don’t think about when we’re so laser-focused on just getting “POWER-OVER”)

Please remember that plenty of revivals have occurred around the world where the political conditions were absolutely awful.

It’s interesting, Christianity is waning in the West where religious freedom is still relatively strong…

But Christianity is exploding in places like China, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and a whole bunch of other places where it’s illegal to even become a Christian.

The Christians in these places have NO chance (ZERO) of getting power OVER anyone, but they’re coming under (like Christ…like the church of the 1st few centuries)…serving, loving, sharing Jesus…

And in their focus to live like Christ…revival is breaking out.

While we’re just thinking, “Gotta get POWER OVER…POWER OVER”

If you ask them, sure they want a better government. Absolutely.

But are the discouraged? Without hope? Downhearted.

Absolutely not.

Yeah, they would like to replace their middle manager, but their main purpose is to be an ambassador for the King of Heaven, and they get to watch thousands of people every month becoming citizens of His Kingdom.

Church…we HAVE to remember our PRIMARY mission.

And if you remember that…and give you to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s…

Then no matter what happens in the government, and no matter who has power over everyone else.

…you don’t have to fear because YOU…are an ambassador, not for middle management, but for the King of KINGS.

Let’s get to work!

Let me pray

(pray generally)

If while I’m praying, you’re thinking, I’m not living for Jesus…I’ve been living almost exclusively for political change.

And you want to know Jesus….

You can know Him today.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

He came to earth and died on the cross for your sins.

And the Bible says the most important decision you can ever make is to believe in that and become His follower.

When you believe in that, He will take the punishment of your sins, and put Him on Himself, and you will be declared not guilty.

And we talk about living for Him, and His Kingdom, because we believe that life on this earth is just a blip, and then we will live for eternity, for FOREVER, in heaven if we are saved by Him.

And so if you need to become a follower of Him today, a citizen of a heavenly kingdom, and not just an earthly one, would you just raise your hand?

If you’re raising your hand today.

Repeat this out loud after me…whether you’re a brand-new believer or have been one for quite some time.

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.


As everyone still has their eyes closed, for those of raising your hand, you just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…

So here’s what we’re going to do to get you that…as everyone has their eyes closed, I want you, in just a second, to walk back out to the lobby where it will be quiet.

You won’t walk out there alone.

There are others standing with you, and our follow-up team is going to walk out at the same time with you

And I, and our follow-up team are going to get you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.

If you’re part of this church, and your friend or family member is standing up right now, PLEASE come out there with them.

All right, you can all go now.

As they’re walking, I’m going to thank God in prayer.

Let’s pray

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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