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10 Reasons Why the Church Must Be Involved in Politics (6)

In this blog series, I am responding point by point to a column written by Greg Stier, the President and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries entitled, “Ten Reasons Why Pastors Should Focus More on the Gospel Than on Politics.” Here’s Greg’s sixth point and my response.

#6. It [the gospel] attacks the root of evil and not just the fruit of it (Romans 1:16)

Stier makes an excellent point. Many of the larger social problems we are forced to address in the political arena – things like corruption, immoral spending, abortion, the breakdown of the family and a whole host of other evils – are really just the fruit, and not the root, of a deeper problem. Government is ill-equipped to deal with spiritual and character problems. In fact, only Christ can transform the human heart. This is the “good news” of the gospel. That’s why strong churches and families are essential in creating and training spiritually, morally, socially and physically healthy individuals.

But the Bible also tells us, “If the root is holy, so are the branches.” (Romans 11:16) In other words, after individuals are transformed from the “inside-out” through a personal relationship with Jesus, He changes the way they live. When the human heart [the root] is holy, then the branches of a person’s life – marriage, family, work etc. – will also be holy. So a political leader with a relationship with Christ, operating under the principles of God’s Word, will act in a completely different manner than the man or woman who does not know the Lord. For instance, the politician who says he is “personally” against abortion, but votes the party line in favor of perpetuating this social evil, is guilty of compartmentalizing his faith.

This is why we cannot preach a privatized faith. Once we lead someone into a salvation relationship with Christ, they must be trained to acknowledge the authority of Christ in every aspect of their lives. As a pastor, I need to recognize that there are individuals in my congregation who are called to public service. I must help them connect the dots between their personal relationship with Jesus and good public policy. If we are doing our jobs well in the local church, we should never be faced with an election where we must make the choice between two poor candidates. When ungodly leaders represent us, it is an indictment against the church. We have simply failed to equip our people with a biblical theology of government and with a clear understanding of their duty to transform society by being salt and light.

So while I agree with Stier that our focus must be on the root, we must also realize that after salvation, our work has just begun. If the root is holy, the branches will produce good fruit. I’m afraid we’ve been content with the root and left the fruit to take care of itself. We assume that it will just happen. My challenge is that we must be good vinedressers by being intentional about the kind of political fruit we are picking. Statesmen are not born – they are trained and equipped. The church must lead the way in the formation of godly leadership in every sphere of life, including the call to politics.

  1. Paul Rothbard
    June 18th, 2012 at 22:21 | #1

    Although I believe that Christians should bring an additional integrity to their public office, being a Christian doesn’t automatically make you a good politician. Both Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee carry the Christian mantle and both have had TERRIBLE ideas and policies that hurt their country and their state. If anything, I think Christians go far too EASY on their Christian representatives, as many give their vote away for just a little bit of pandering.
    It still raises the question about what we expect from our Christian representatives. Do we expect them to enforce the Constitution better than anyone or do we expect them to go beyond that, because as a believer of the Bible, he knows what is “best” for people?

  2. Paul Rothbard
    June 18th, 2012 at 22:23 | #2

    Pastor Johnson, I don’t expect any of my comments to get through moderation onto your wall, but I hope that in later posts you might address some of my questions or ideas.

  3. July 11th, 2012 at 21:58 | #3

    Paul,
    Your point is a good one. Being a Christian does not ensure you will be a good civil leader. We need to make sure our political leaders are competent. What I am after is a leader who is grounded in a biblical worldview and possesses a philosophy of government that arises from that worldview. He/she understands the scope and limitations of each of the God-given institutions: the family, the church and the state. He understands man’s fallen nature and the needs for checks and balances. As Washington mentioned, he honors the role of religion and morality as “indispensible supports” of liberty. He has a biblical view of economics and taxation, understands limited government, a biblical perspective of justice, a respect for the rule of law, etc.

    It is interesting that the founding constitutions of our state governments were very short in length because they largely focused upon the character of those who were to lead us. If you choose competent leaders of outstanding Christian character and convictions you’ll have a great government.

  4. Paul Rothbard
    July 12th, 2012 at 18:06 | #4

    I agree that great character and convictions could be an improvement to any government office and could very well minimize how those in leadership abuse their power. Unfortunately, the track record for just “electing the right person” is pretty low.
    Do you think enough voters are ready to do the right thing? I strongly believe that, as a nation, our expectations of government need to radically change before the right people ever have a chance.
    I think a strong case can be made that government is a god in itself in our society. As much as we see the worship of cradle-to-grave benevolence on the Left, I see the worship of total security from harm on the Right. There is plenty of overlap between parties in this regard and little concern for cost on either side.
    Putting the right people in office is a very noble goal, but if they are really doing the right thing, how could they possibly hold their office for very long?

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