“You may not be interested in the State, but the State is always interested in you.” So spake Ross Douthat, one of the key speakers at Regent College‘s recent Faith and Politics in a Fractured World conference, making the point that a Christian response of retreat and isolation is impossible.
Of course, he is right.
Eventually the State will knock on your door, require you to pay your taxes, demand that you have a license to drive your car… the list could go on (and does). Not all of these things are bad things; I suspect that many of them, we affirm and want. Good or bad, the State is inescapable.
However, the Christian does not engage politics simply because the State is inescapable.
For the Christian, the entire world is God’s. Without reservation, without boundary. We do not look at the world and see a part that is outside of God’s reach, although certainly all of it has yet to be fully transformed. Because the world is God’s, we seek to bring his shalom, his ordered peace, to all areas of our lives.
This includes politics.
I think there are two good reasons to engage in politics. Firstly, while we need not all become politicians, the world of politics could surely use God’s shalom. As Christians, we have a responsibility to, in cooperation with the Spirit, bring shalom to every aspect of our lives, including the political. Secondly, politics affects our society, and as people who care deeply for our society, we care about the factors that affect it.
Either way, the reality of politics demands Christians do not just shrug their shoulders and turn away; engagement (whatever that looks like) is required of us as God’s stewards of the world.
Our role isn’t always clear-cut. Sometimes we are to come alongside and cheer. Sometimes we are to be the lone voice in the wilderness. But I’m convinced, that ignoring politics isn’t the solution. Maybe it’s time we engage, not as some new “moral majority,” but as Christ-centered and thoughtful believers, seeking to make sense of a difficult and complicated world.
Matt Timms, an Australian-American, is a theology student who enjoys working out his thoughts in written form. His blog, Confronted by Christ, seeks to explore how Christ gracefully works in our lives, confronting us on the largest of social issues and on the simplest of daily practices.