Jesus could have taken up politics and laid claim to an earthly throne. He could have obtained it by diplomacy when the devil offered all the kingdoms of the world to Him in exchange for His worship (Matthew 4:8-10). Instead, Jesus rebuked the suggestion.
An earthly kingdom could have been His again after the feeding of the five thousand when He perceived the people were about to draft Him as king (John 6:15). Jesus took stock of the situation and departed.
Again Jesus could have taken the earthly crown by popular acclaim when He rode the foal of an ass into Jerusalem amid a royal display of spontaneous tribute. In fact, the inaugural parade was already in full procession (John 12:12-15). Jesus cleansed the temple instead.
Why did Jesus not acquiesce on these occasions? The answer is found in the fourth opportunity that presented itself.
When standing in judgment before Pilate, after the polls would have shown a sharp decline in His "approval ratings," Pilate demanded to know whether or not Jesus was the "King of the Jews." Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight" (John 18:33-36).
He could have seized the throne by military might because not only would His servants have fought but He also could have called twelve legions of angels from the heavenly reserves, and in a moment His forces would have neutralized the enemy, and He would have been secure on the throne (Matthew 26:53).
But Jesus voluntarily surrendered to the will and whims of both the ecclesiastical and the secular powers of the day. Clearly, Jesus had something other than an earthly kingdom in mind for Himself and His followers.
The disciples seemingly were ready to fight for Christ at one point, as evidenced by Peter's action with a sword. Nevertheless, after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles, all were ready to forsake the sword, including Peter. All preached love and nonresistance to evil instead.
The Biblical concept that there is and ought to be a separation of church and state comes through clearly on these occasions. This concept is also clear in the writings of the apostles (Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:9).
Jesus credited Pilate with having a permissive authority and power, as did also Paul when be declared that the powers that be are ordained of God (Romans 13:1).
How can Christians give proper recognition to earthly rulers and at the same time refuse involvement with them?
It is simply this. There are two kingdoms, and we make a choice between them as Jesus and Paul did.
Not only are there two kingdoms, but there are two citizenships, two constitutions, two registration headquarters, and two different voting booths.
Both voting booths are surrounded by curtains. The voting booth in a democracy is enclosed for privacy, and the voting booth for the Christian is his secret closet. There too he can be alone and make his choice—the will of God or his own.
Some questions are in order. How can a Christian vote in both voting booths when the goals are so different? How can he vote for a commander in chief of the armed forces when Jesus' followers do not use force? or vote for the local sheriff? or impose the death sentence when Christians do not kill and would rather suffer wrong than do so (1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 6:7)?
The Christian has dual citizenship: heavenly and earthly. However, his highest loyalty is to the heavenly, and he will not transgress the laws of the heavenly in order to please the earthly. At the same time, though, he will gladly honor the laws of the earthly, insofar as there is no conflict with the heavenly. Thus, to obey driving speed limits set by "Caesar" is to honor both his heavenly and earthly citizenship. But to carry a sword or vote for one to do so violates the charter of the heavenly domain. Christians are, indeed, an holy nation of kings and priests to their God.
Christians have the Word of God as their constitution. Their names are registered in the Lamb's Book of Life, and hence they have power with God. His will has become their will, and they never would circumvent His will being done on earth by casting a vote without knowing God's will.
The apostle Paul said that the "powers that be" are ordained of God. He was living under Nero, the man who took his life. Humanly speaking, Paul never would have voted for him. Yet he declares in no uncertain terms that Nero's power was ordained by God. Who of us wants to be found voting against God?
If the Christian joins the army, votes, or holds political office, then Christians are of the world (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17, 18). And if their vote puts a fellow believer into political office and he remains in the church, then beware, for the world is also now in the church. It won't be long until the church no longer meets the Biblical description of a pure and holy bride. It has become Babylon the Great, the den of every unclean and hateful bird. Babylon is the symbol of the adulterous religious system that has committed adultery with the world. John the Revelator foretold us that she "is fallen, is fallen!" We want no part of it! "And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation 18:2, 4).