A Christian approach to politics

I was asked recently, “How should a Christian navigate today’s charged political environment?”

The question appropriately assumes that the Christian is in the game, not on the sidelines. It provides that the believer is attempting to navigate the wavy seas; that she is not simply hunkered in a safe harbor.

In days gone by, the “this world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through” mentality often kept the “citizens of heaven” from engaging in the governments of earth.

The church at large does not subscribe to this school of thought today. However, some believers likely adopt it personally to avoid or ignore the messy, smelly world of politics.

Alternatively, many Christians believe that faith is so important that it must be proclaimed in the public square.

Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” Let us stand up for God so he will stand up for us, the thought goes.

Still other Christians believe the social mission of the church is so critical that it is right to use government resources to accomplish it.

Both moral majority Christian conservatives and social justice Christian missionaries would do well to remember that while God ordains governments, the church is the only earthly entity he ever gave his spirit to.

Whether teaching morality or feeding the hungry, the church should not abdicate to government what it should be doing itself.

During Jesus’ ministry, some pushed him to lead a political revolution. He didn’t take the bait. He was on a different type of mission, though he commanded to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

Jesus came to set captives free. Freedom was the focus of his ministry. And freedom should be a Christian’s focus in the public square.

Does that mean Christians should be libertarian, pushing government out of people’s lives so as to advance personal freedoms?

Or does that mean Christians should be progressive, pushing government into people’s lives in order to give them freedoms they would not otherwise have (e.g., health care, transportation, education)?

Like Christ, I won’t take the bait. I will say that different gifts should be recognized and deployed in government just as they should be in the Body of Christ.

I don’t want a hard-line conservative running the state’s health and human services department. It doesn’t fit his gifts and passions. I do want a hard-line conservative providing a finite budget for the work of such a department. Otherwise spending spills over its rightful boundaries.

Along with expanding freedom, believers in the public square should operate with faultless integrity and extreme humility.

Doing what you say you believe despite changes in political weather reflects the constancy of God. Giving genuine credit to others in an image-conscious arena stands out like a capital dome on a city skyline.

Obviously, tensions exist in this debate. Pacifist or front lines? Christian conservative or liberal activist? Government in the lives of people or out?

As you might expect from an Almighty who crafted no robots, God gives no easy answers. We must wrestle on with fear and trembling.

He does give hints. King Solomon’s advice in Ecclesiastes 7 seems relevant.

“Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes. Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful than ten rulers in a city.”

Kevin Thompson is a columnist for The Boerne Star. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

1 Response to “A Christian approach to politics”

  1. 1 Don Campbell October 12, 2011 at 11:48

    I love Kevin Thompson’s blogs; conservative, reasonable and well thought out. I also do not want a liberal running the “state” Department of Heath and Human Services: in fact, if the “state” referred to is the federal government, I don’t want anyone running a department that is unconstitutional.

    The U.S. Constitution specifically prohibits the federal government from performing certain duties that the states are authorized to perform. The fed is only empowered to perform a few specific duties, like providing for the defense of America. Running a health and human services department is not one of their duties; in fact, it is prohibited, and to do so is unconstitutional. For that matter, it is unconstitutional for the fed to tell us what kind of light bulbs to use and what kind of gas to put in our cars.

    If you have not read the constitution since you were in high school, read it now. Be prepared to weep when you see how our federal government has abused their power in their quest to control us as they see fit.

    Don Campbell
    Boerne, TX

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