Does it serve the cause of Christ for Christians to use political influence to improve society?
Should Christians be in politics and government?
Who am I to question whether a particular Christian found their way into politics and political office because they say they heard from God? But, it does surprise me. Christians are enlisted in the army of the Lord, with a call to win the world for Christ. Christians are not called to repair social inequities, but to rescue lost souls. As such, they are not supposed to “get involved in civilian affairs” [2 Timothy 2:3-4].
2 Timothy 2:3-4
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer.
Christians have their citizenship in heaven [Philippians 3:20].
... our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ ...
This world is destined to be destroyed [2 Peter 3:10].
2 Peter 3:10
... the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
God is not going to renew or renovate this world. He is going to replace it [2 Peter 3:13].
2 Peter 3:13
... in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
This mirrors God’s dealings with individuals. He does not patch up our lives. In Christ He buries our old lives and causes us to be born anew spiritually [Romans 6:3-5].
... all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.
The problem starts with the thinking that there can ever be such a thing as a “Christian nation”. Imposing religion on people against their will is resented and resisted. Christians have no mandate to guard the morals of society. Christians are not perfect. They are simply forgiven.
When Christians get involved in politics they alienate people they are supposed to win. They may find themselves on opposite sides of the political fence, in sometimes bitter debate with other believers, since our democratic system is adversarial. Jesus called for love and forbearance.
Some enter politics out of ambition. Alliances may be made for political expediency. Is that what Christians are called to do? [2 Corinthians 6:14-15].
2 Corinthians 6:14-15
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
Christians in government have found themselves participating in decisions to go to war, when Jesus commanded His followers to turn the other cheek [Matthew 5:39; Romans 12:19-21].
“But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.
On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Christians find themselves promoting an economic system where, sadly, the only workable foundation seems to be one based on greed and self-interest – values, if they can be called that, which are opposed to those of Christ.
Jesus refused to be drawn into debate on political leaders and their failings. Instead He focused on the need for each person, as a matter of priority, to get right with God [Luke 13:1-3].
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Psst! Think about this ...
“Do not speak ill of the leader of your people” (Exodus 22:28). This is one of the 613 commandments in the Law of Moses. Fortunately, Christians are not under the Law (Rom 6:14). Just as well. There is regular violation of this principle in democratic societies that have been set up on a system of adversarial politics.
Note: Paul apologised when he inadvertently broke this law (Acts 23:2-5).
Advice for Christians: Pray for leaders. Leave judgment to God.