When we speak of the Christian and politics we should have a definition of the two words, Christian and politics. I think we would all claim to know more or less what a Christian is. A Christian, it is said, is a person who professes a belief in Jesus Christ and who follows the teachings of Scripture regarding Christ. A Christian is one who is a member of a Christian church and shows the qualities taught by Christ, such as humility, love for others and a proper respect for God-instituted authority. The above description of a Christian is a rather general, but correct one, I believe. But what of the word politics? Do most of us really know what that word means? We all have varying notions of what politics is, I am sure, but the word seems to leave a bad impression upon many of us. The dictionary states that politics is the science of government, or the organizing of a form of government. More specifically, politics is the entire range of activities that pertain to the organization and operation of a government. Every person who is elected to an office in government, whether it is local, state-wide or federal, has had to enter politics to attain that office. His very job or position is political in nature and he is technically a politician while he is in office. A politician is one who takes it upon himself to be elected to an office in government. In so doing, he usually joins an organization such as a political party, organizes a publicity campaign and tries to impress the voting populace with his qualifications for office. Most of the time exorbitant amounts of money are spent in political campaigns and sometimes the campaigns are quite cruel as each candidate tries to vilify the other.
But what should be the Christians’ attitude toward politics in general? I think that the Christian should have a positive attitude toward politics. First of all, the type of government that we enjoy in this country operates with politics being its lifeblood. Nearly all of the key figures in our government are elected officials, therefore politics could be said to be one and the same as our governmental system. Going on the fact that we also have a God-given government, we must show respect for that government. This does not mean that we should kow-tow unquestioningly to every move or decision the government issues, for the very essence of political activity denies that. But the Christian should, however, respect the government to such a degree that he can take responsible actions in relation to governmental control. Elaborating upon the above point, it can be said that the elements of politics are essential to our God-instituted government. Without politics, we as a nation could not continue to operate a limited democracy as we know it today. Without the everyday turnover of ideas, solutions and opinions which are the real roots of political actions, our government could not be as it was intended by our political forefathers. Politics, then, is the very essence of our governmental system in the United States.
Secondly, in following through the idea of a positive attitude toward politics, I believe that the Christian should be involved in politics. It has already been stated that many bad or unseemly things take place in the political arena. However, politics, like so many other things in life, has both its bad and good points. The Christian cannot be cognizant of one point and ignorant of the other as we so often are when the subject of politics is discussed. I believe that being active in politics begins, first of all, in being knowledgeable and up to date on the important facts about the workings and dealings of our government. We should know what is going on about us. We must keep ourselves informed on the issues of our times and be able to form our own intelligent opinions and to stand for what we believe. I also believe that a Christian, when and if the circumstances permit, could enter politics on a very active scale and run for a political office. This, too, would follow in the same vein as the Christian’s obligation to respect and keep informed about his government. A Christian also has the privilege to vote on a local and national scale and should become involved also in this way in politics.
It can be said, then, that the Christian should take a positive outlook toward politics and become involved in politics, in the best way suitable for him.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 2 April 1969