“How to Engage in Politics Without Losing Your Soul”

I found this several years ago and kept a copy of it. May it serve you well in these days. Ivan

By Dr. Andrew Jackson

HOW TO ENGAGE IN POLITICS WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL

I titled this post based on Jesus’ statement found in Mark 8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” The reason that I chose this convicting passage is because over the years I have watched many Christians who became zealously active in partisan politics actually “lose their souls.”

That is, they lost their unique public witness as a Christian; they began to act contrary to the character of Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit; and they became agents of division within the church itself.

Below I offer 10 biblical guidelines on how Christians can engage in politics without “losing their souls.”

1 – Christians must never allow ourselves to equate the biblical Kingdom of God with any human political party or nation (John 18:36; Isaiah 9:7; Matthew 6:33, Philippians 3:20, Revelation 11:15). As Christians we must be diligent in maintaining and preserving the distinctiveness between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world. We must never fuse the two. The great “utopian illusion” that easily enters our politics is that peace, harmony, and prosperity for all can be brought about in the world through human political means.

2 – Christians must never allow ourselves to elevate a specific politician to a messianic or savior status (1 Peter 3:15). In our entertainment and celebrity culture, it is becoming more common for people to infuse politicians with almost a messianic or savior status. In other words, people begin to believe a politician’s extraordinary promises and that they actually can single-handedly produce almost supernatural social results. As Christians, we have one Lord, and we must resist all attempts to exalt any human politician to unrealistic heights.

3 – Christians must not just vote, but more importantly, we must pray for our government and the leaders of all political parties (Matthew 5:44, 1 Timothy 2:1-2). In our polarized political society, many Christians are tempted to bless the politician or political party they support, and curse the other one they don’t. How unbiblical! The Bible is clear, we are to pray for all political and government leaders, even our political enemies.

4 – Christians must always remember that our ultimate security is in Christ and in the unshakeable kingdom of God, no matter what presidential candidate or party wins (Hebrews 12:26-29). One of the dangers that many Christians seem to often fall into is that we begin to elevate the outcome of presidential elections to an apocalyptic status. In other words, if our presidential candidate or party does not win, we begin to see it as the end of the world. This is what I call the “Y2K complex.”

When we allow ourselves to understand politics in apocalyptic terms, we at the same time express an unbelief in the sovereignty and Lordship of God over his creation and human history. Yes, elections have real consequences for people, but in the larger scheme of history, don’t worry, no matter who becomes our president, God is in control and will take care of things.

5 – Christians must never allow ourselves to bring the divisiveness and polarization of political parties into the church, the family of God (Romans 16:17, 1 Corinthians 1:11-12). We cannot allow partisan politics to divide the body of Christ. Individual Christians have freedom of conscience before God and the Bible, and as a result, we must accept the fact that there will be diversity of political opinions in the church. We must never allow diverse political perspectives cause conflict and divisions in the church.

6 – Christians must never allow ourselves to demonize or dehumanize another person – no matter what politician it is – because every single human has been created in the image of God (Colossians 3:8, Matthew 7:1, James 4:12). Christians must not engage in demeaning and judging other people, no matter whether we agree with them politically or not.

7 – Christians must never engage in angry confrontational arguments, instead of being open to learn through civil debate and dialogue (James 1:20, Philippians 2:14-16, 2 Timothy 2:14). When we interact with other people with hard-core dogmatic positions, we demonstrate an ugly pride that demeans the character of Christ. As Christians we must humble ourselves, understand that as humans we are limited in our understanding, and that we all can learn more about the very complex issues that face our nation. Christians must always engage in politics through a path of reason and civility.

8 – Christians must never allow ourselves to become so intertwined so closely with one political party that we forfeit our independent identity as followers of Christ. When we do, we lose the prophetic voice to speak and clarify biblical truth to all politicians and political parties (1 Timothy 3:15, Ephesians 4:15, Romans 3:4).

9 – Christians must never allow ourselves to engage in partisan politics by supporting divisiveness between races, between male and female, between rich and poor, and between the young and old (Matthew 5:9, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Electoral politics is all about dividing society into specific voting blocks. And as a result, politics usually divides our society, instead of uniting it. Christians must always function as peacemakers and reconcilers in the public square, and resist every temptation to join the political tactics of dividing people for political gain.

10 – Christians must not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of simply cursing the darkness through negativity, instead of constructively engaging our world as preserving salt and illuminating light (Matthew 5:13-16). The cultural and missional mandate of kingdom Christians requires us to stop cursing the darkness and start lighting more candles that reflects God’s truth, compassion, and love.

And since songs speak so powerfully to this subject – have a blessed day!

1 thought on ““How to Engage in Politics Without Losing Your Soul”

  1. Ivan, I liked this post on the whole, although I am curious if you have more thoughts on point 3. Obviously, I like the exhortation to pray for leaders, but I am curious about the “Christians must not just vote, but…” part. Do Christians really have to vote? I was reading some more of his posts and ran across this line: “Since I had to make an adult choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for president, I make it public that I was voting for Donald Trump.” Did he really have to choose? Can we abstain when we feel that all options would be to vote for a wicked person? *Should* we abstain?

    To expand a bit more: When I say “I voted for Trump”, I become associated with his actions and opinions. When I say “I endorse Bernie”, I again associate myself in people’s mind with a person that does not accurately convey my beliefs as a Christian. It doesn’t matter how many caveats or footnotes I add, I am forever associated. Now that Dr Andrew Jackson has made a statement about supporting Trump, hasn’t he violated point 8? A non-christian democrat likely won’t respect him anymore. Why *must* a christian (especially a public figure) take that kind of risk? Jesus carefully avoided it, instead always encouraging us to throw ourselves on the mercy of God.

    Another difficulty is that we live in a (kinda) democracy. That means that the most voices will win over the fewer voices. As Christians, we should assume we have the smallest voice, and therefore our political addition will be limited and small. Why take a huge risk by participating in a system that is guaranteed to be against us? The up-side seems really limited, the downside is huge.

    I suppose maybe we *can* vote if we don’t tell anyone who we voted for, but that feels silly.

    Curious for your thoughts!

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