A few years ago, my father announced to my family that he was going to enter the field of politics. He saw the need, and believed that the Lord was leading him there. As someone who is more on the shy and reserved side, immediately, in my own little heart, I rejected his decision. I despised it and deemed it a foolish thought. I thought that nothing good can come out of it. But as I held my tongue and continued to hear first-hand of my father’s aspirations and vision, the turmoil in my heart brought me to my knees as I brought this topic before the Lord.
And so began the years of wrestling with the Lord on the subject of faith and politics.
the pursuit of power: dominion over all
Too often, the game of politics has been equated to a power struggle. Most enter the field with the purpose of winning, of gaining authority, of ruling. And so people fight. They toil endlessly for positions of authority. People cheat, bribe, spread lies—in the spirit of the race to the top. All means become justified, as long as the end goal is obtained.
Well, if this is politics, then I do not want any part in it.
Sadly, however, the church in history has also been guilty of this. In the past, the pursuit of Christendom (the era of Constantine, where a whole nation was Christianized) justified oppressive means. And it had stemmed from the belief that this is the mandate that God had ordained for mankind. That the command God gave Adam was to “have dominion over all,” (Gn. 1:26-28). And so, even the Church, sought dominion.
But if that is the mandate of Christianity, then I do not want any part in it, either.
So I wrestled. What was I to make of it? How ought I live a Christian life where I seek to live right before God, and participate in such a dirty field as politics?
the theology of glory
I believe that claiming to be a Christian is to profess the Lordship of Christ, which means that our lives are now shaped and defined by the Gospel. But is this applicable to the field of politics? Is there such a thing as a theology of politics?
Surely it is, for even as we look to the Old Testament we learn of a theocracy: we see that God was the one to appoint a king over Israel, and that the nation was governed by laws that God had given the people. Anyone who disobeyed the laws of God was disobeying the laws of the nation of Israel and was subject to punishment.
But is theocracy what we must work towards, as Christians? Do we need to “reclaim the land” and subject it under the rule of Jesus, hence affirming the pursuit of Christendom? What does it really mean to say that Jesus Christ is King, and to pray as He taught: “Thy Kingdom come?” (Mt. 6:10)
the theology of the Cross
To understand His words, we must turn to His life. To interpret the words of Jesus properly, we must look to His works. Because this same Jesus would also later pray, in the Garden of Gethsemane: “not my will, but Yours be done,” (Lk. 22:42). And this prayer led Him to the cross, where He finally uttered, “it is finished” (Jn. 19:30).
And so we must look to the cross. “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, but who loses it shall find it,” (Lk. 17:33)—the life of a Christian begins with the death of Christ on the cross. All our theology therefore also flows from the fountain of the cross. Even that of politics.
How shall we view politics, then, as Christians? We must view it in light of the cross.
the Cruciform of politics: praying Thy Kingdom come
At the Cross, the Most High God, who had taken on flesh, laid all form of majesty and power, in order to save a world that rejected Him. At the Cross, the King of All, did not defend Himself, but sacrificed Himself for the least of these. At the Cross, the One in whom all things hold together, laid it all down, and endured a most humiliating death, to give us the Gift of Himself.
The Cross shows us how to live, for the Cross had given us Life Himself. And so as Christians, our call to the cross reveals to us how we are to live: to lay our lives down, at the Cross.
This is no different, even in the field of politics. Ultimately, praying “Thy Kingdom come,” must first resonate in our hearts: as we know Who our King is, and Who it is we must serve. To pray “not my will, but Yours be done,” as Jesus did in Gethsemane teaches us that even in politics, we must crucify our flesh, as we take up service.
…as Christians, our call to the cross reveals to us how we are to live: to lay our lives down, at the Cross.
the Christian politician
Politics is not a means for us to “claim the land,” or to “reign victorious over the nation.” Politics is not a means for us to Christianize a country, or to make the Bible the law of the land. No, that is not what Christians are called to do.
But as any call to any Christian in any other field, the Christian politician is to work faithfully and tirelessly, “as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23-24). Politics, then, merely becomes the field where we are to serve, humbly, for the glory of God, and the good of others.
Although politics may be a scary “game” to be in, if we know who Ultimately is King, then we need not fear. In politics, we need to only fear one thing: our own greedy and arrogant hearts. And so dear Christian, if you believe that the Lord has called you into the field of politics, this is my prayer for you (and for me):
May the Lord keep you, and draw you nearer to the fount of His cross. May you delight in His laws, and stand firm in your faith: knowing that all authority is His to give, and His to take. Beware of your own pride creeping in, beware of any sense of entitlement.
Love the people God has entrusted to your care, and serve them wholeheartedly, especially those neglected and forgotten. Never oppress the poor, but seek the welfare of the least. Know that whatever decision you make in private is bare before Him who sees all things.
And in all circumstances, only return to this truth: that your Lord first calls you to Himself, to the foot of His cross. So fix your eyes on Him, and let your eyes not wander away. Then only shall your cross be light, for you know Him who had borne it all for you.