5 Reasons Christians Shouldn't Tuck Tail and Run From Politics
It seems that, other than sin itself, two things feel dirty to 21st century Millennial Christians: money and politics. It's as though money can only be touched by fingers sticky with greed and politics can only be entered by lives stained with power and corruption.
However, when Christians sidestep politics and wash their hands of anything other than minimalism when it comes to money, large portions of the world as we know it lose Christian influence.
Money deserves a dedicated discussion, but suffice it to say, simplistically so, that there would not be nearly so many effective Christian ministries today without the Christians behind the scenes who fund them.
As for politics, there are at least five reasons why Christians ought to stand their ground, speak up, and stay involved:
1) Politics wasn't a foreign business to Biblical heroes.
While some claim that, since Jesus did not spend much time speaking about Roman politics, Christians should refrain from speaking out about American politics, this hardly shows the whole picture. Jesus came specifically as the spiritual Messiah, not as the political and military Messiah many were expecting.
When taken as a whole – as was always intended – the Bible provides plenty of examples of political Christians. David the king, the "man after God's own heart," was chosen by God to be the political leader of His people. The judges in the Old Testament were also often chosen by or directed by God Himself to politically and militarily lead Israel. Esther was placed in a political position – the queen of a foreign nation – to affect God's plan.
The prophets themselves spoke directly about the politics of their day, not backing away from influencing national leaders. And, in Romans 13, the rulers are referred to twice in one verse as "God's servant/s." Of course, this does not require that political leaders are Christians, but it certainly does not preclude them, either.
2) Sin is rampant in any profession.
Politics does indeed swim in a sea of corruption – both moral and monetary. There is no debate that power puffs up. And yet, drugs and immorality are rampant in the entertainment industry. The business world runs with greed and has associations with human trafficking. Christian ministry itself is hardly immune.
So why is politics the preferred profession called out by many Millennial Christians as the one to run from? In any profession or calling, Christians must seek the power of God to resist temptation and turn from sin. That is not unique to politics, and it is high time Christians realized this.
3) While cultural change is essential to true freedom, so is political change.
Countless Millennial Christians are focused on culture change. Concerned and committed to social justice issues, they rise to the occasion – as long as we are talking about hearts. But laws? Well, that's a different story. Changing the law will not change people, they argue.
And yet, if murder was legal and without punishment, do we really believe we would see low levels of it? How about robbery? These may seem silly examples, but consider them for a moment. While there are always those who dismiss the law, doing as they wish, there are also those who are kept in check by the law and the punishments associated with breaking it.
True freedom exists in a country where cultural change and political change are both effected when necessary. Yes, change the hearts. Absolutely change the hearts. But we ought not to decry and condemn those who work to change the politics and the law at the same time.
4) Religious liberty won't be protected by those who don't care about it.
Though some seem to think that religious liberty in America exists purely for the Christians, such a view could not be further from the truth. Religious liberty was enacted through our First Amendment for any person of any religion. It is not true liberty if it is not liberty for all.
And just as the Muslim baker should be allowed to refuse to bake a cake for a Jewish bar mitzvah, so a Christian baker should be allowed to refuse to bake a cake that celebrates a ceremony she religiously disagrees with. This is basic freedom.
Students in our colleges and schools must be allowed to form prayer groups, speak the name of Jesus, and witness to classmates. This, too, is basic freedom.
Do Christians really believe that those who want to take it from us will protect such freedom? If we would like to keep our freedoms, we must actively defend them.
A martyr's attitude or an acceptance of what we deem persecution helps no one. While we are called to turn the other cheek when we are personally offended, this principle has nothing to do with defending true liberties that affect society as a whole.
Religious freedom is not about "me" and "my rights," even if it happens to involve "me" this time. Religious freedom is about the society-wide idea that I am free to follow the dictates of my conscience and my religion, and so are you. For a view of what happens when religious liberty is stomped down and left undefended by all but a few, we need look no farther than many Middle Eastern countries that so often make our news cycles.
Here in America, if Christians lose their religious liberty, it will be the fault of Christians themselves.
5) Our freedom here allows us to influence the whole world.
There is a reason America has, for decades, been seen as a "city on a hill," or a light to the world. We are able to aid many poor nations, feed starving children, rescue captives, spread freedom, and speak out for justice because we ourselves are free.
Christians have, historically, been a large part of America's ability to bring freedom and justice to the world. Yet, without our involvement in ensuring our own freedom, we will lose our ability to influence the world.
Do we think our pastors will be able to preach as they believe, in freedom, without our free laws that allow it? Do we think our Christian aid organizations will be able to help refugees and disaster survivors without a government that looks in favor on these activities?
We Christians need to fully open our eyes, see what we are able to do in America and around the world because of our free laws here, and choose to actively become a part of keeping America free.
As the wall of the Korean War Veterans Memorial reminds us, "Freedom Isn't Free." It will only remain free when Christians take it upon our own shoulders to research and elect the right leaders and, when appropriate, become those leaders ourselves.