Here is a quotation from a now-unidentified interview-ee, a Christian politician, from ca. 15 years ago, in Wineskins Magazine:
One of the greatest challenges that I faced as a candidate was the attitude that Christians should not get involved in politics. With so much at stake in our society today we simply cannot allow that myopic viewpoint to prevail.
This interested me because I cannot even remember a time within evangelical Christendom in which lack of political activity or interest constituted the norm. (I know it was once so, historically speaking, in some sectors.) Assuming this politician had his finger on the pulse of at least some part of the Christian subculture at the time, his dream has come true. I mean, the strong, or at least vocal, majority of dedicated Christian types today seems ready to support political activity — and even to be active themselves.
As for the “challenges” the man faced: if he meant he was spending too much time during his campaign dealing with people who were trying to talk him out of taking office, I get that that was personally draining for him.
On a more substantial level, we may see that the opposite course of life is anything but myopic — and the man’s comment, ironic! To look long and hard into the eternal kingdom, instead of focusing on the geopolitical sphere in the here and now, is infinitely more far-sighted.
To be valuable, we must neither gaze exclusively inside the doors of the church building, nor peer almost as myopically from inside those doors into civic affairs. There is more than either of these options. Yet it still common to hear exhortations like this one, from the selfsame politician:
“It is time for God’s people to stand up and be counted for what is decent and for what is right.”
That strikes me as one of the most us un-quotable quotes I have seen a while. It was even pulled out and highlighted in the New Wineskins magazine, as though it would or should be striking. A couple decades ago, that might have been highlight-able, but the idea now seems trite. More Christians seem to think as suggested by the quote above than my way (which is not necessarily not “being counted” and “standing up”, mind you . . . I sometimes “stand up,” but motivations and aims ought to be considered as much as people’s action [or lack of it]).
Not that I’m really good at this, but when faced with a choice, God being my witness and my sustainer, my emphasis will have to do more with His kingdom than with political causes or trying to influence civil governments.
Christians tend to be enemies of the spread of Christianity in general. Someone has said that Christians are the greatest cause of atheism. While that’s not true very deeply, we are certainly culpable. One thing we might to in order to help the world see the real Jesus and the lasting kingdom is to stop acting as though this world’s affairs are our primary domain. Of course we will care about abortion and the environment and global economy issues and homosexuality and the poor. But we care about those things as they relate to the reign of God in individual human hearts, and not for the purpose of political plays or concern about which party is in power.
With Paul (Philippians 3:17-21), we pledge allegiance to the King of heaven, since our primary citizenship is there. What we do with regard to earthly politics is secondary at best.