Christian Politics: First Step
© 10.07.08 By D. Eric Williams
The first step in preparing for participation in the political process is Christ-likeness. Obviously we are required to strive toward greater Christ-likeness throughout our entire life. So, when do we reach the point when we have cultivated the new creation sufficiently to allow for additional responsibility? Well, once a man has shown that he knows how to tend his beginner's plot and has begun to produce the fruit of a basic Christian walk he is ready to begin to bring additional acreage under cultivation. In other words when a man is leading his wife and family, discipling them by teaching and example; when he is doing his job as unto the Lord - not just showing up on time and refraining from stealing company property but in thoughtful innovative service to his employer; when he is relating properly to Church authority - when the basics are in order then he may consider the next step.
Yet this does not mean that every man should seek political office once he has his own house in order. Keeping your own house in order is an act of cultivation that is common to every married man who has been blessed with the new birth. However, the ministry of civil service is no more common than is the ministry of pastoral service. The man who has been called by God to the Church ministry must cultivate that aspect of his salvation; the man who has been called by God to write computer software must work out that aspect of his salvation, and the man who has been called to run for political office has the duty to cultivate that particular aspect of his new creation. Working out our salvation means that we "work Christ into" every area of our life. Cultivating the new creation means bringing our entire sphere of influence under the lordship of Jesus Christ. As I have already mentioned, there are aspects of this that are common to every believer. And, there are aspects of this work that are specific to gender. For instance, a man must provide for his own household. That is specific to the male gender. A woman who is married must work out her salvation as a wife and - as God so blesses - as a mother of children. (This is what Paul means when he says that a woman shall be saved in childbearing. He means that women have the responsibility to cultivate the new creation in the realm of motherhood. Women confirm their salvation by bringing the sphere of motherhood under the authority of Christ.) Until they do so they should not consider taking on new responsibilities.
Finally, there are aspects of this that are specific to the individual. If God has equipped Smith to be a veterinarian by temperament and talent, them Smith needs to work out his salvation in that realm just as much as he needs to work out his salvation in the basics of the Christ-like walk. If Jones has been shaped by God to be an attorney, then he needs to cultivate that aspect of his life in light of Christ's lordship just as he must cultivate his role as husband and father in the realization of Christ's sovereignty. If Williams has been called to be a pastor, then he confirms his salvation (in part), by cultivating that call. This is Paul's intention when he says to Timothy that he will save both himself and his listeners if he continues in his calling as a minister to the Church. These are not examples of works salvation; they are examples of confirming one's salvation by living a life of obedience.
This is not to say that we should consider ourselves locked into a single activity for our entire life. Nonetheless, we would be foolish to ignore the way God has made us. The point I'm making here is that God creates veterinarians, doctors, attorneys, carpenters and so on because He wants to redeem all of creation.
So, the first step toward redeeming the realm of politics is to teach men to do the basic work of cultivating the new creation. This isn't a popular teaching these days. There are few, it seems, who are willing to live according to the objective standard of God's word. "We are not under law, but under grace" they cry. "We are not saved by works but by grace." True enough. Nonetheless, we cannot disregard the fact that we are saved with works: that faith without works is dead, that our salvation is confirmed by our works and that the kingdom of God is realized as we work to bring our sphere of influence under the lordship of Christ.
Thus, a crucial ingredient in our first step toward a true Christian politics is a strong Church. It is imperative that the Church begin to instruct men in the work of walking even as Jesus walked - not just in the issues of personal piety, but in every part of life. It is critical that the Church begin to present Christianity as a world-view which speaks to every part of life rather than a sub-culture relevant only in the Christian ghetto.
Why is this important? Well, he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much. If a man is not interested in the mundane aspects of his salvation, then he cannot be trusted with the flashier features. If he has not learned to love his wife and family when the pressure is at a minimum, then how can he be trusted to resist the temptations of money, sex and power which often accompany life in the public eye? No, a man should not consider the political life until he has proven himself in the fundamentals first.
One final thought: even if a man is called to minister as a public servant, he will normally need to work at a private sector job while he pursues his political calling. This is especially true at the local level. A precinct chairman is not paid for his work. City council members aren't paid much unless they serve in a large city. The same goes for county commissioners, state representatives and senators. This is fine. Consider it "tent making civil service." Pay your dues at the local level; perhaps God intends to use you on the national stage. If so you'll probably be able to quit your day job.
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