Politics is a dirty game.
It is divisive usually, but now especially, so it is not surprising that I hear many of my fellow evangelical Christian slate off politics for the gospel.
“I don’t do politics. I am a gospel person.”
I can appreciate that. The gospel is the good news of Jesus for all people. I can see why it is attractive to be about Jesus over what feels like the most divisive parts to our society. I would say in large part, that describes me as well. I can hardly think of a friend of mine who is not a Christian who has not been encouraged to consider Jesus by me. I don’t want to play the partisan games of politics that can isolate the message of Jesus from people.
But we make a mistake when we confuse the concept of politics with policy. Politics is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group. It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state. The control of political parties, the partisanship divides, the mudslinging can have us reject the whole system and stick our heads in the sand about public policy.
However policies affect people. They affect lives. They can be good. They can be terrible and destructive. Whilst I understand the Christian that may want to stay away from the partisan divides, may I encourage you to lean into understanding the policies that have been made by our governing authorities and the policies that are sitting in congress waiting to be approved.
Many of these policies the church and the Christian should wade in on and be a prophetic voice. We should use our democratic opportunities to call the governing authorities to rule wisely and in a way that treats people made in the image of God like they are image bearers.
Another way to understand public policy instead of the word “politics” we should think about policies being a code word for ethics. Do we have good ethics in the way we govern and treat one another? Are we being unethical in the way that we conduct ourselves with our own citizens or citizens of the world?
Ethics are entirely in the realm of what a Christian should care about in the world. Though parties can support them and do, our ethics should be above a particular partisan argument. We should continually ask the question about “what is right” and “what is wrong” in the world. What is good? What is ethical? At times, it is pertinent for the church to speak and to call our government to a higher standard of ethics, to do what is good instead of what is wrong.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8