It’s not uncommon for me to come upon a Christian who jokingly quips, “I’m just not interested in politics,” or “Politics just aren’t my thing” especially in light of the upcoming presidential elections just 27 days away. I was talking with someone the other day about this very topic and he made a statement that made me pause and think.
“Politics aren’t everything but they are important and a Christian’s responsibility.”
Think about that.
Politics are a Christian’s responsibility.
What does this mean and how does that affect the way a Christian should view politics?
Today, I want to delve a little more into that thought and explore three reasons why you, as a Christian, should be engaging in politics. The dismissive remarks I mentioned above are often said with the intent to subtly imply that the arena of government is a defiled sport unfit for those serious about the Gospel.
For those of us whose houses are inundated with television ads, robocalls, campaign mail, and the overall negative tone of politics, this might seem like a tempting route to take. However, this is not the position that a Bible-believing Christian should accept as congruent within Scripture.
The purpose of the Gospel is that by grace through faith sinners can be reconciled with God (Ephesians 2:7-8). Therefore, the Gospel is a holistic message with implications for all areas of life, including how Christians engage in the political process.
In fact, how can Christians claim to care about others and not engage in the arena that promotes the most basic of human rights? Caring for the needy, hungry, sick, and lonely is important to Jesus and thus, it should be important to us.
Fulfilling the Biblical law to care for “the least of these” should be a priority for every believer no matter which party they reside within. Loving our neighbors includes the acts of volunteering at a homeless shelter as well as speaking out in approval for laws that encourage the flourishing of humankind. Obedience to the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) includes seeking laws that protect unborn babies who have just as much as a right to life as we do.
Here are three reasons why you, as a Christian, should care about politics.
1.) Politics are unavoidable.
Augustine’s City of God offers some guidance on this point. Believers are citizens in the “City of God”, but on this side of eternity we are also a part of the “City of Man”, and therefore we must be good citizens and stewards of both cities. What does this mean exactly? In the American Constitution, we have these words, “We the people” and in the United States, ultimate national sovereignty is entrusted to the people. James Madison explains that “the consent of the people” is the “pure original fountain of all legitimate authority.” This makes politics virtually unavoidable for American citizens who literally control their political future.
Politics have real-world implications upon Christian evangelism, and since we live in a nation that gives us the power of choosing authority, Christians ought to engage in the political process by leveraging our rightful authority to advocate for laws and policies that line up with Scriptural laws and principles.
2.) Government restrains evil and promotes good.
The government gets its authority from God to promote good and restrain evil, but sadly some elected officials lean more towards promoting evil such as legalizing full-term abortions.
This mandate of evil and good is stated in Romans 13:1-7, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.
Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
Elsewhere, Paul urges that prayers be made “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Paul understood the importance of praying for our leaders in government.
If Christians want to see a change for the better within our government on laws that are in direct opposition to God’s laws, we need to get out and make sure our voices are heard. Now is not the time to become complacent.
Carl Henry rightfully stated that Christians should “work through civil authority for the advancement of justice and human good” to provide “critical illumination, personal example, and vocational leadership.” Jeremiah 29:7 says: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
Today, a good government promotes literacy, just laws, provides religious liberty, and allows churches to preach and spread the gospel. The takeaway? Good government can serve as a conduit for furthering the Word of God to the hurting world.
3.) We need to love our neighbors.
Followers of Christ are called to love and serve their neighbors (Matthew 28:19-20). When asked about the qualifications of a “good neighbor” Jesus answered with the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) indicating that irrespective of race, social status, background or occupation, neighborly love is owed.
In a very real way, politics is a way that Christians can show love to their neighbor.
I’ll leave you with this thought:
Politics is a means by which can bring about a positive change to our nation and must be engaged in by Christians who claim to “love their neighbor as they love themselves.”