The Christian As A Citizen: Get Involved

By Jimmy Tuten

One should enter vigorously into the life of the community. “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (Rom. 13:7). The Christian cannot be insensible to the movements of the world. His duties are not sufficiently recognized by keeping aloof from public life and duties even though there are political corruptions. Religion should penetrate and sanctify the world with a perpetual transformation. “Whether ye eat or drink, whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Failure to help deal with the problems of mankind is to cast off allegiance to God. Leaders of human society represent the authority of God on earth. But this does not mean that he gives assent to each judicial function, or places each ruler in office. It means that it behooves the Christian to think, speak and vote as a citizen deems best to promote the interests of the state. Indifference to evils which he can remedy, carelessness respecting the general welfare – this is a crime.

First of all, every Christian should resolve to try to bear his fair share of the load and to discharge his responsibilities in every relationship of life. “Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men” (Rom. 12:17). One does not fulfill this admonition by simply refraining from dishonesty, immorality, and general unrighteousness. There is an obligation of positive participation, or affirmative action, of constructive conduct, which he ought not to shirk. One cannot help but think of the priest and the Levite who did not have time to help the wounded man beside the road. The isolationist idea of Christianity has a very strong tendency to produce a monastic life style. This is not the kind of life Jesus wanted his followers to live (Lk. 10:29-37).

Secondly, Christians should get involved in the community because of the desire to make everything of which he is a part better. A Christian in the community ought to use his energies to make the town a better place for his having been a resident. He should use his influence for better government by striving to be a part of the solution without becoming a part of the problem. Social virtue in the lives of many has come to be excluded from Christian ethics. Who is the most wicked: the adulterer, or the politician who takes bribes? Yes, the Christian runs the risk of becoming entangled in the very problems he seeks to help solve (Rom. 12:2). But if what we preach and believe cannot stand the test it is time we re-examined our position (2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 6:4). This reminds us of a statement of the late Harry Truman, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

In the third place, one should seek activity in world affairs in order to take his place with his fellow man so he can have an influence for good (1 Cor. 9:19-22). Having the opportunity to express one’s views to governmental offices at various levels will enable us to influence people by involvement as a candidate for office, or jury duty, or whatever is the fulfillment of obligations. The Christian cannot stand on the sidelines.

It is hard to conceive of any problem in this world in which the Christian influence could not properly and profitably be exerted. One should not be neutral on issues, though he may not be aligned with either of the existing political parties. If the Christian considers two opposing views a plague, then let him offer a third alternative, or else refrain from criticizing those who are active in dealing with moral and political issues. The Bible teaches the right of each Christian to have an active voice on moral issues. Smug complacency and unconcern border on sin. “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?” (Jer. 12:5) We have a harder fight with a shorter stick than we would have had if Christians through the years had taken a greater interest in the moral issues that face the public. All the forces of evil, whether it be Humanism, or whatever, began as a small force. They are growing and will gain momentum because they are dedicated to their cause. That’s the reason we so often lose. We aren’t! But I hope we will become more dedicated to the cause of Christ and to the cause of good politics and sound economics. A healthy social, economic, and political order will help to provide a better milieu for the growth and development of Christianity. “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (Tit. 3:1).

Christ’s Spirit taketh breath again
Within the lives of holy men.
Each changing age beholds afresh
Its word of God in human flesh,
Amid the need of earth, whose ear
Pure wisdom maketh quick to hear,
Who knows the founts of good and ill,

And live in the eternal will,
Sharing themselves and all their good
In universal brotherhood;
In whose sweet lives we still may see
The One who walked in Galilee,
And preaching through the human page
Christ’s living gospel to our age.

(W. C. Braithwaite)

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 22, p. 685
November 19, 1987