Do Christianity and Politics Mix?
"The only way to change society is personal salvation; political involvement is a waste of time."
Many Christians would agree with that statement – and understandably so. It's hard not to when modern politics has been so divisive, distracting, and downright cruel. If that is how politics works, perhaps its best to avoid political involvement altogether. At first glance, Christianity and politics don’t seem like likely neighbors. However, a closer look at Christ's kingdom and the Law of Love reveals that believers can engage the political realm for God's glory.
In Colossians 1:15-18, Paul casts a glorious vision of the risen Christ reigning over every inch of creation as both Sustainer and Lord. His unseen kingdom covers all things, both visible and invisible. This means that the world and all its inhabitants (Ps 24:1) live under Christ's reign; they exist within His domain.
While people may not submit to Christ's lordship, they cannot escape His ever-present kingdom. Christ's pervading presence and eternal purpose to reconcile everything to Himself, both in heaven and on earth, ensure that nothing in the world – no soul, no society, no area of human existence – is outside of His concern. It all belongs to Jesus, and every part can glorify Him – even politics.
Politics is a relevant topic in Christian circles, because Christ's kingdom is limitless. But when believers view the world as divided into secular and sacred realms (ie., He belongs in the "sacred" areas, but not in the "secular" ones, such as politics), they unknowingly pigeonhole His kingdom. They put boundaries around His earthly activity and say, "Stay within these lines; they are to keep You holy." But Christianity cannot be crammed into only the areas where believers feel comfortable. The Lord is the ruler of all things, not just the parts we consider spiritual or "Christian." In fact, Christ's kingdom values are needed most in places that reject biblical principles, no matter where that might be.
Politics also matters to Christianity because Jesus taught us to love our neighbors, be they believers or unbelievers, foreign or fellow citizens. For good or ill, politics holds the power to impact our neighbors by helping shape their living conditions and values. Therefore, Christians rightfully concern themselves with the ideas, policies, and laws that affect others. To stand idly by while individuals are unjustly oppressed, disregarded, persecuted, and aborted is sinful. Theologians call these "sins of omission" – not doing what God commands us to do. Political involvement enables Christians to obey the Law of Love as we shape public policies to reflect Christ's character. When we do, not only do our fellow citizens benefit, but the Lord is honored.
Plato warned, "The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." Christians cannot ignore political realities: Someone will lead; Someone will legislate, and everyone will be affected. Believers have the ability to influence these outcomes through the political process. In doing so, our heavenly citizenship touches our earthly citizenship in a redemptive, Christ-honoring way.
This article can be found in "Apologetics Study Bible for Students", page 562.
Please also see our comprehensive study for the book of Psalms that includes commentary from www.enduringword.com.