Politics. Politics. Politics. Now that we’re getting close to election day in our grand state of Indiana, our mailboxes are flooded with political postcards attacking one candidate while praising another. We’re already in a national storm of pugnacious politics, and our upcoming elections only seem to add fuel to the fire.
How do you respond to the political battlefield? Do you ignore it or embrace it? Do you add your voice to the voluminous cacophony or do you keep silent? Here are two suggestions on how to walk through our political landmine.
What not to do: Withdraw. This is the easiest course to take, but it only leads to self-absorption and the enablement of evil. In 1776, Edmund Burke wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” Ignoring politics and disengaging from the political process denies democracy and empowers autocracy.
What to do: Engage. Engage in the political process as a Jesus follower with dual citizenship. Most likely you are a U.S. citizen, but as a Christian, you are also a Kingdom citizen. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). But Paul also didn’t shy away from invoking the rights of his Roman citizenship (see Acts 22:25). Jesus set the bar when He said, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
So, how do we do this? How do we engage in the political process as citizens of two kingdoms? By keeping the two kingdoms in their proper place. First and foremost, we are citizens of God’s Kingdom. As the Apostle Peter once said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). God’s Kingdom comes first; our earthly citizenship comes second.
This requires prayer and spiritual discernment. We vote as agents of God’s Kingdom. We pray as ambassadors of the ultimate King, Jesus Christ. We become salt and light for justice, truth, and love, which is the primary mark of God’s Kingdom.
Paul and Peter lived under the rule of corrupt emperors of the Roman empire, and yet they instructed early believers to “submit to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1) and “honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17). They both modeled, however, that earthly submission bows to our heavenly King.
Let’s not think of politics as a dirty word. In the 4thcentury B.C., Aristotle wrote that the root word for politics is polis, a community defined by a common understanding of and commitment to the “good life.” Of all people, Christians have a grand conception of the good life (Micah 6:8) which Jesus characterized by love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-38).
I urge you to invoke your right as a U.S. citizen to vote your conscience as a Kingdom citizen. In doing so, you are contributing to the good life of a free society where people can worship, evangelize, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and provide schools for learning and justice for the poor. As one author says, “Our Father in heaven knows we need these things too, and he uses our action in the voting booth in part to provide them” (Micah Watson, associate professor of political science at Calvin College).
Now is the time to pray for discernment and get out to vote.