Jesus was once asked which was the greatest of all the laws God gave to man. Christ answered: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39) Jesus taught that when it comes to paying “God’s things to God,” the first thing we owe Him is love—which involves our wholehearted, complete allegiance.
Can such love be divided? Can our loyalty be split, with some going to Jehovah God and his heavenly government and some going to an earthly government? Jesus himself stated the principle: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24) Jesus was there speaking about dividing one’s loyalties between God and riches, but he clearly felt that the same principle applied to involvement in politics—as did his followers in the first century.
The oldest available records show that Jesus’ followers in the ancient world did not take any active part in politics. Because they gave all their worship to the One whom Christ worshipped, they refused to pledge allegiance to Rome and its emperor, to take up military service, and to accept public office. They suffered all manner of hostility as a result. Their enemies sometimes accused them of hatred against mankind. Was that accusation a fair one?