Should a Christian have a part in political or social affairs?
A young couple gave up a comparative life of ease and emigrated to a country stricken by poverty and disease where the husband was to work as a doctor. For a time the work went well, the couple appeared to be accepted and became integrated into the social life of the land. Then tragedy struck. People began dying of an incurable disease. The husband was not only blamed for failing to find a cure, but was accused by the very people he had helped of actually creating and propagating the disease. He was arrested, tried in a court, and deported. The wife was left alone, circumstances preventing her leaving immediately with her husband. How would she now feel towards the people of this land? The way her husband had been treated would colour everything. All social links would be broken and the days counted when she could leave and rejoin her husband at home.
The Lord Jesus has been rejected and crucified here. On the one hand His death is the basis for my eternal blessing, but on the other hand it changes everything for me here. Where I was once at home, I become a stranger and a foreigner. How can I be at home where Christ has been refused? It says of Abraham that “By faith he sojourned as a stranger in the land of promise as a foreign country … for he waited for the city which has foundations, of which God is [the] artificer and constructor” (Heb. 11: 9, 10). Later on we are told that “we have not here an abiding city, but we seek the coming one” (Heb. 13: 14). The English word politics has its roots in both the Latin and Greek words for city. The Christian’s politics and citizenship are not here. So Paul wrote “for our commonwealth (AV gives “citizenship”) has its existence in [the] heavens, from which also we await the Lord Jesus Christ [as] Saviour …” (Phil. 3: 20). This word commonwealth embraces all our associations of life––they are all heavenly. If believers vote in elections, they are effectively saying that they belong here and are denying their heavenly citizenship. An ambassador is his country’s highest representative in a foreign country but he has no part in the politics of that country––he is still a foreigner. He may live and work there, but he does not belong there. His one object in being there is to is to look after the interests of his country. Paul said “We are ambassadors therefore for Christ …” (2 Cor. 5: 20) and later spoke of himself as “an ambassador [bound] with a chain” (Eph. 6: 20). We are left here to faithfully represent the One who said “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18: 36). While we have no part in politics, we pray “for kings and all that are in dignity” (1 Tim. 2: 2). Rather than rule we are to be “in subjection [therefore] to every human institution for the Lord’s sake; whether to [the] king as supreme, or to rulers as sent by him …” (1 Pet. 2: 13, 14).
As to social links, it says of Peter and John when they were released from prison that “they came to their own [company] …” (Acts 4: 23). Christian company is the only company in which the believer can feel at ease, at liberty and at home. All other company is classed by the Scriptures as “the world”. Three languages were used for the superscription on the cross, not one. Not only was there Latin, the language of politics, power and vulgarity, but there was also Greek, the language of culture, refinement and education, and Hebrew, the language of morality and religion. All unitedly and equally expressed what man thought of Christ. James asks “Adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (James 4: 4). The same verse also states “Whoever therefore is minded to be [the] friend of the world is constituted enemy of God”. Abraham, already referred to, was “called Friend of God” (James 2: 23). The death of Christ has released the believer from other bonds so as to be bonded to Christ risen from the dead (see Rom. 7: 4). Hence James describes those seeking to be bonded in fellowship with the world as adulteresses. I have to work in the world and probably with the world, but I belong to the Man that the world crucified. But what about 1 Cor. 10: 27? “But if any one of the unbelievers invite you, and ye are minded to go …”.The apostle neither commends acceptance nor prohibits it. The believer is at liberty to go but when there his liberty is to be such that “whatever ye do , do all things to God’s glory” (v31) with the express object of “not seeking my own profit, but that of the many, that they may be saved” (v33). If I go to unbelievers for my own pleasure and enjoyment, I am not true to Christ and may well be the means of giving “occasion to stumbling” (v32). I only go if I can use the occasion so “that they may be saved” (v33).