Question from a reader:
I don’t know where to draw the line between fighting the fight for our Constitution, getting involved in politics, being a dutiful patriot and being a spirit-led Christian seeking His Kingdom and His Righteousness first.
Often, I find myself wanting to learn and study the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well as, retaining a desire to read current political books in an effort to educate myself on the country’s issues at-hand especially concerning health care reform.
I don’t know as a Christian where to draw the line. I’m wondering if I should only pray about things and not become so involved with trying to “fight the good fight” against those I think are hurting our country. Do you have any words of wisdom for me, scriptures that I’m overlooking that I should be paying attention too, etc.?
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It’s all a matter of balance and priorities. Some people are called/gifted to be involved in various political, social and civic efforts. As Christians, we ask God for wisdom to know the balance of our personal involvement.
As a general principle, we don’t see Jesus or the Apostles primarily concerned with social ills, political efforts or civic activity. They are primarily concerned with sharing the Gospel, studying God’s Word and serving others.
Cooperation with others to achieve political and social goals
should NEVER include compromising our faith.
Now, we are not Apostles, or Jesus, but the PRIORITY they display should be our priority GENERALLY SPEAKING. Nothing should be more important than sharing God’s love, serving others and witnessing for Christ. If any of our passions for politics or social good* takes precedent over those priorities, then our life will be out of balance (*Note: many churches and big name Christian leaders have raised social work to the highest priority, clearly abandoning the example given to us by Jesus and the Apostles. To validate my point, you see many high profile “social evangelists” compromising, and at times completely eliminating, the goal of sharing the Gospel to all involved and preaching Christ alone. The exclusivity of Christ is seen as divisive, and “inter-faith” cooperation to solve the world’s social ills is seen as the highest good).
I think it is telling that Jesus gave little interest in fighting or correcting the political situation or social ills of his time. Why? Because He knew that the only change that actually effects the world’s problems IS A HEART CHANGE. Real change, unlike our current President’s slogan, only comes from a supernatural rebirth of the evil human heart. The heart is changed, the person is changed, the family is changed, the community is changed, the city is changed, the culture is changed, the world is changed.
Politics and social activism seeks to change the OUTSIDE, not the inside. While there are certainly a few temporary benefits, it is always short-lived and mostly spiritually empty.
I’m NOT saying we shouldn’t be involved in politics or social efforts. We should, as God leads us. Getting leaders elected that hold our values, feeding the poor and promoting freedom is important. We should be part of it but with the right mindset.
Some Principles to Consider
As we get involved in politics or social efforts, we should keep several principles in mind:
Romans 13:1-7 – Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (NKJV)
God determines who is in authority and Christians most of all are expected to obey the law, be good citizens, respect authority and do their part to bring Godliness to politics. God calls some people to be totally involved in this effort, and others to pray and vote. As good citizens we should make an effort to be basically educated about “government”.
There is no Biblical mandate to avoid politics OR become consumed with every political issue/ill. This is hard for Christians when they see their country being over run by those who hate or deny God… or, at best, elevate MAN over all. We tend to embrace one extreme or the other: get exasperated and say “there’s no use”, or become obsessed with the headlines, books and talk radio.
God gives us the liberty to choose our own level of involvement in politics or social issues like poverty or abortion. We must do so without getting our priorities out of whack or compromising the Truth.
Matthew 22:21 – They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (NKJV)
Jesus recognized our civic duty. The Lord’s mission on earth was not to change the political situation which was BAD. He wasn’t called to “feed the world” or “end social injustice”. This is a principle we can learn from: what “mission” is God giving you? For some, that WILL be politics, it WILL be feeding the world, it WILL be fighting abortion. But not all of us can have the same “mission”.
Note: no matter how passionate we are about something, we cannot mistake our passion for the idea that EVERYONE should feel the way we feel. I often meet people who think EVERY Christian should fight abortion… EVERY Christian should be working to get a Christian candidate elected. That’s just not realistic. We should be passionate, but we have to allow that God does not call us all to be feet, or all to hands, or all to be eyes (though apparently He’s called a great majority of people to be “mouths” 🙂 ).
Our external circumstances don’t change our spiritual state. While all of us would like to move our country towards Godly leadership and more (genuine) freedom, we have to remember that NO SOCIAL CIRCUMSTANCE should dictate our spiritual health. Whether in Communist China, Muslim Pakistan or “free” America, our faith and trust in God, and our way to salvation is unaffected.
For Americans who lament the disintegrating state of our freedom and previously Christian-orientated nation (our current President has assured the world we are NOT a “Christian” nation), we need to remember that the harvest is GROWING. The government thinks they can solve everything but in truth, they only increase hopelessness and a feeling of being lost. This creates a greater spiritual opening for sharing with people the only True Hope. For Americans, the disintegrating state of our Republic represents a fertile and growing harvest of lost souls in need of a Savior.
A Matter of Liberty
God gives us the liberty to choose our involvement so enjoy that liberty and remember to keep your priorities straight. Don’t ever let ANYTHING become more important than the Gospel, and your own private spiritual life.
- If you love politics, get involved, be passionate, but don’t let it be more important that your Christian life.
- If you love to be part of social efforts, then feed people and share the Gospel; clothe people and share the Gospel. Never let “doing good” become your “religion”.
- Never let politics, social work or any good deed cause you to “hide your light under a bushel”; don’t compromise the Truth, don’t hide the Truth, don’t agree to “cooperate” with other “faiths” to the point where you are not allowed to share the whole Truth about Jesus Christ
Like many things in the Christian life, this whole question falls into the realm of liberty. We are free to choose our involvement in politics or civic efforts as long as our priorities remain intact, and as long as we NEVER compromise the Truth of God either in content or how/when we can communicate it.
If you feel passionate or led toward being involved in politics or social efforts, then do it with all your heart. Make a difference. Don’t allow it to become a higher priority than your faith. Don’t compromise sharing the Truth, either in frequency or fullness. Keep in mind that God ordains all rulers, even the bad ones… they serve His purpose. Social ills will NEVER disappear until this sin-cursed world is recreated. We can and SHOULD help feed, clothe and heal people but even that must NEVER cause us to compromise our faith and duty to proclaim Christ, even slightly. We should educate ourselves politically and be good citizens, but a bad political situation should not affect our faith or become an obsession.