Below are two letters to the editor of a monthly Christian newspaper — dated nearly one and two decades ago, respectively — in which I asserted a basic principle I still hold as true. Although life’s emphases often do change over time, this one has not, for me.
In response to the “Christians in Politics” spread in the April Chronicle, I noted that A. Campbell’s view (“that Christians should be involved in shaping public policy”) was conjoined with his belief in the future reign of Jesus on earth. I deduced, perhaps unfairly, that at least some who believe disciples should be politically active also seem to have a physical, or at least institutional, concept of the Kingdom, whereas Jesus’ own notion of the Kingdom was quite the opposite.
Though I affirm each believer’s right to express his opinion, I admit some dismay that in this article, political activism seemed to be juxtaposed with spiritual “aliveness” and the non-sectarian practice of working alongside those of other denominational heritages. Personally, I believe I stand on solid Biblical ground in avoiding political involvement, yet I consider myself spiritually alive and am an avowed, vocal non-sectarian!
Though it may “separate the men from the boys,” this world’s evil will not triumph. We need to abandon our earth-oriented fears in the decisive, ultimate victory of Jesus and in His eternal, spiritual kingdom. When we are in tune with the transcendent God and His enduring rule, we will possess the essential life-elements which will allow us to act as true salt and light in this world, bringing souls into relationship with our only Captain and King–God. Remember, “No soldier engaged in active duty gets involved with civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer” (II Tim. 2: 4). Let’s keep our focus on the battle and on our Commander!
Brian Casey (4/94)
To the Editorial Committee:
Thank you for expressing the opinion that Christians should participate in the political process and be part of an “informed electorate.” As one who attempts (albeit weakly) to center his thinking and ministering around the eternal Kingship of God and not on governmental systems of this world, I find a decided non sequitur in your suggestion that since “the government under which we live is participatory, then it is logical that Paul’s and Peter’s teachings direct us to participate.”
On the contrary, it seems clear to me that in such passages as Romans 13:1-7, the Christian is assumed to be separate from government and politics: note the third-person pronouns “it” and “he” that refer to government and its agents. Paul certainly tells us to submit but does not seem to assume any meshing of the believer with civil government.
By the time anyone reads this letter, the national election will be history; I hope by these words to influence the post-election thinking of my fellow sincere brothers and sisters. Like most Bible-believers, I am deeply concerned about certain trends in our country, but the direction any country takes is not material to the faithfulness of God’s people. Our primary goals must not be related to this life.
Long live the King of the New Israel! I thank Him for the privileges of living in the United States while eagerly anticipating the fullness of His Kingdom — God’s reign among His people, and our spiritual residence in His eternal habitation. May we trust in our God regardless of the situations of our secondary, earthly citizenship (2 Timothy 2:4).
Brian Casey (10/04)
Recently, a cause of great concern has been in the news. Yes, I am troubled — not so much over the present, economic and political specifics as over the long-term consequences for society. I am concerned that it will be increasingly difficult to raise children with a sense of what is right and what is wrong . . . what is normal and what is abnormal. We’re not talking about merely private behaviors (that I consider aberrant and destructive) here. We’re talking about the very public, purposeful shifting of societal mores and norms over a period of years and decades.
A ESPN news show on 6/30/13 featured a person who was out to wage war, from all possible angles, against what he feels is “anti-gay bias” in sports. If his “program” works in even small measure, I’m concerned for my son as he progresses through public schools, Little League baseball, and more. A few years ago, a professional colleague mentioned that his then-20-year-old son had surprised him by registering acceptance of those who practice things that clearly run counter to biblically based morality. It’s going to be harder for today’s children to discern rightly.
With that said, I remind myself and you that, no matter the political cause du jour (or du coeur), it is good to remember that they are all time-bound causes. Teaching my son right from wrong is important, but the conservative cadre of causes is not, relatively speaking. I prefer not to be wrapped up in an ephemeral cause or counter-cause, or a party, or a political philosophy.
Rather, the more I am wrapped up in Kingdom causes, the less I will worry about earth-bound ones. This is not to say that earthly things are of no importance — far from it. It is to say that eternal, Kingdom business helps to put temporal, earthly causes in perspective.