Essential citizenship: Why care about politics?

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7 Reasons why politics is an arena of opportunity, influence and responsibility 

Why should individual Christians view the political order as an arena of opportunity, influence and responsibility? Why not simply let the sub-Christian society tend to its own structures and problems while we Christians concentrate solely on the biblical mandate to evangelize the world and teach people to follow Jesus? As I understand the Scriptures and as I look at our situation in society, it seems to me that there are major reasons why Christians should give careful thought to political matters.

  • The political order is a parallel, although secondary, order functioning alongside the church to serve God’s human creation. Government, as the agency of the state, is the expression of God’s love and especially of his providence toward those people who reject his lordship as experienced in the Christian church and proclaimed by it.
  • God can achieve considerable good through the operation of the political order, namely, the prevention of anarchy, the restraint of evil, the maintenance of law and order, as well as the maintenance of conditions that, generally speaking, facilitate the carrying out of the great commission.
  • Church and state share many concerns and goals. This reality is hardly surprising given that many of the positive services that the state now undertakes were first pioneered by the church. Indeed, many are still carried on by the faithful church.
  • Although we may not realize it, most of us are much more involved in the political realm than we know. The political realm has become a substantial part of our social environment. Detachment and irrelevance are no longer options; perhaps they never were.
  • Government is big and growing. Its tentacles now impact the church and the life of individual Christians in massive ways. Although there are many positive aspects to this expansion of political power and regulation, there are also many negative effects. Further, in most countries the government now makes claims and demands that specifically contradict how Christians ought to live. In many western countries, for example, including Canada and parts of the United States, such demands include the approval of same-sex marriages and other practices that both church and state previously rejected. These initiatives need to be challenged and addressed.
  • No part of a Christian’s life lies outside the scope of Christ’s lordship. Christ is also Lord of the political order. Understanding exactly what this means is an ongoing challenge for every Christian.
  • We may not be “of the world” (John 15:19), but we are certainly in the world. God, in his wisdom, has chosen us to be his representatives here on earth. Since that is the case, should we not become knowledgeable about the social setting into which God has placed us? Given that God loves the world even in its fallen state (see John 3:16), should those who worship God and seek to be faithful to his ethical values not also love that same world? And love, we know, always evokes a desire to get to know the object of one’s love.

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