Throughout the world, many people who claim to follow Jesus Christ are deeply involved in politics. Some try to promote their religious and moral values by supporting particular candidates or political parties. In turn, politicians often use moral or social issues to win the support of religious people. It is not uncommon for religious leaders to run for political office. And in some countries, a “Christian” denomination may even occupy a special status as a state, or national, religion.
What do you think? Should followers of Jesus Christ get involved in politics? You can find the answer by looking at Jesus’ example. He said: “I set the pattern for you, that just as I did to you, you should also do.” (John 13:15) When it comes to politics, what pattern did Jesus set?
Did Jesus get involved in politics?
No. Jesus did not get involved in the politics of the world.
Jesus did not seek political power. He refused to accept control of human governments when Satan the Devil offered him “all the kingdoms of the world.” (Matthew 4:8-10)a On another occasion, people who recognized Jesus’ leadership qualities tried to push him into politics. The Bible reports: “Jesus, knowing that they were about to come and seize him to make him king, withdrew again to the mountain all alone.” (John 6:15) Jesus did not yield to the will of the people. Instead, he refused to get politically involved.
Jesus did not take sides on political issues. For example, in Jesus’ day the Jews resented paying taxes to the Roman government and viewed these as an unjust burden. When they tried to get Jesus to take sides on the issue, he did not get into a political debate about whether such taxes were just. He told them: “Pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” (Mark 12:13-17) He remained neutral on the political issue but showed that the taxes demanded by the Roman civil authority, which represented Caesar, should be paid. At the same time, he showed that obedience to secular authority was limited. A person was not to give the State what was due to God, including devotion and worship.—Matthew 4:10; 22:37, 38.
Jesus promoted a heavenly government, God’s Kingdom. (Luke 4:43) He did not get involved in politics because he knew that God’s Kingdom, not human governments, would achieve what God wants for the earth. (Matthew 6:10) He understood that God’s Kingdom would not operate through human governments but would replace them.—Daniel 2:44.
Did first-century Christians get involved in politics?
No. Jesus’ followers obeyed his command to be “no part of the world.” (John 15:19) They followed his example and remained separate from the world’s politics. (John 17:16; 18:36) Rather than get involved in political matters, they did the work Jesus commanded—preaching and teaching about God’s Kingdom.—Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 10:42.
First-century Christians put obedience to God first in their lives, but they also knew that they had to respect secular authorities. (Acts 5:29; 1 Peter 2:13, 17) They obeyed the laws and paid taxes. (Romans 13:1, 7) While they did not get involved in politics, they did make use of legal protections and services that governments provided.—Acts 25:10, 11; Philippians 1:7.
Christian neutrality today
The Bible clearly shows that neither Jesus nor his early followers got involved in politics. For this reason, as Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world remain completely neutral. Like first-century Christians, they do the work that Jesus commanded—they preach “this good news of the Kingdom.”—Matthew 24:14.