Hello @maxjeganathan. In the Philippines, it seems that we’re living in Marx’s world, in a sense that everything is political. To be silent about a certain issue is assumed as being an enabler of the status quo. In light of this polarizing political climate, how can we be good citizens of our country (which includes sharing our political voice as civic engagement), and also be good citizens of heaven (in a sense that we don’t lose our focus about the gospel being primary)?
How can we be both good citizens of our country and good citizens of heaven when it comes to political and civic engagement?
Thanks for your sharing and for your great question Omar. You correctly identify one of the great blessings and challenges of walking with Christ: balancing our integrity as disciples with our responsibilities as citizens placed under civil authority. The first thing to say - somewhat controversially - is that this will necessarily look different for different people in different communities at different times. For Dietrich Bonhoeffer, his walk with the Lord included being part of an assassination plot. For Wilberforce, it meant running for political office and engaging in legislative reform. For Martin Luther King Junior, it was a call to civil activism. For others, it might manifest in raising a godly family and obediently and quietly living out their call as an employee in a corporation while voting and advocating for certain issues as opportunities arise. Somehow, we must balance our call to integrity (2 John 1:6) alongside our call to civil obedience (Romans 13).
During my time working as a political adviser, I was blessed with a few lessons on this. The first is that we all have a responsibility - as disciples of Jesus - to be aware of the needs and challenges of our communities and the consequent political struggles we collectively face. Generally, politics is tribal, hostile, adversarial and divisive. To this, we have an opportunity to bring both truth and love. We must stand for what we believe as Christians and to the extent we are empowered, present Christian moral reasoning in the public square not just because God said so, but because the Christian moral framework offers the most effective blueprint for human flourishing. Alongside this, we must remember that our primary call as Christians is not to legislate morality.
Morality is primarily a matter of the heart, not exclusively a matter of the law. The grey area comes when the two intersect. There are certain issues on which biblical principles and public policy are clearly discernible - for example, on issues relating to the value and sanctity of life (and we must always hold strong on these issues). However, while a part of the Church’s call is to speak prophetically and biblically into the public square, the more important part of the Church’s call is to call people to the person of Jesus Christ and to help ensure that the freedom of thought, association, speech and religion exist, to enable the Gospel to be freely practiced, preached and sought. Augustine correctly identified the challenge of living in both the City of God and the City of Man. Let’s not lose our cool by focussing exclusively on trying to turn the latter into the former. The Gospel is more about the invasion of human hearts than the invasion of human laws.