With the Independence day celebration over, Nigerians are still disillusioned about a lot of things. Some people have taken it upon themselves to debate every issue about the government and the country while others have decided to look the other way because they believe it does not concern them. Whether Christians should be in politics…
With the Independence day celebration over, Nigerians are still disillusioned about a lot of things. Some people have taken it upon themselves to debate every issue about the government and the country while others have decided to look the other way because they believe it does not concern them. Whether Christians should be in politics or not has been an age old argument.
To start off this piece, let’s take a look at some of the reasons that have been postulated for not involving Christians in politics.
1. Christians are not earthly citizens: They are heavenly citizens because the Bible says we are not of this world so we should be looking forward to the heavenly kingdom and not this earthly one. In other words they should have their head in the clouds! Getting people to heaven is more important than trying to straighten out a fallen world they say.
2. The political world is openly antagonistic to Christian principles: The world is riddled with humanist thinking. There is danger when Christians expose themselves to the political realm because they come in contact with the world’s evil practices and so might be influenced in the negative.
3. The duty of Christians is subjection: Christians are said to be supposed to be subject to authority and pray for them according to Rom 13:1. Some people believe that that is the only duty of Christians in the political world.
Some of these reasons are so deeply entrenched in the mind of many Christians but I feel these are not the real reasons Christians should not get into politics. The only reasons I can think for Christians staying out of politics, is that it helps them give room for…wait for it…FOR DESPOTS TO LEAD AND ACT ON THEIR BEHALF!
The truth is that Christians although not of the world, are fully present in the world. They are made to make impact. Yes Jesus was described as meek and mild, but he was also a revolutionary. He was never afraid to speak up for what was right. One of his disciples was even known as the Zealot. I think there are a few more reasons than this as to why Christians should be in politics. They are:
1) We have a moral commitment to politics: ‘For evil to triumph it is merely necessary that good men do nothing’ (Edmund Burke). To say it another way – all that is necessary for the weak and powerless to be crushed is for no one to stand up for them. Politics is about how our nation is run; if we want our government to run more effectively and more ethically, we must play our part by getting involved. Through the power of the vote and advocacy, Christians have the opportunity to ensure government is just and fair to all citizens. We should not forfeit or take for granted our valuable voice and our right to vote. As Christians, we need to show them how it’s done by not only voting but taking a more active stand in running for office so that the evil can be destroyed.
2) We have a Christian commitment to politics: As Christians we ought to go much further than this universal moral commitment: As those redeemed by Christ and brought into the family of God we need to exhibit a spirit of justice, care and mutual concern for our fellow men and women. As Christ went about doing good (Acts 10:38), so should we. We are to get involved in the way the world is run, and seek to do good and restrain evil. As St Theresa of Avila said, ‘we are the hands and feet of Jesus’. St Paul described Christians as ‘ambassadors for Christ’ as though God were making his appeal through us. Part of being Christ’s ambassador is to advocate for him and his ways in our political system. We are his workers, who help usher in his Kingdom ways on the earth.
3) We have a historical commitment to politics: If not for the Christians who fought against slavery, such as William Wilberforce, then we might still be in grass clothes and the white men may still be coming across the Niger trying to buy some of us as slaves. So we as Christians should feel a particular responsibility towards the political system. Much that is good about our government is due to the legacy of Christians.
From the Catholics to the Reformers, Puritans, Methodist evangelists and evangelical social campaigners, many believers throughout the centuries have stood for justice and freedom, opposing tyranny and oppression. The basis of modern democracy comes from the biblical concept that we are all made in the image of God and all stand as individuals equal before him.
So if we are to be involved in politics, even at the basic level of voting, how are we to be involved?
1. We should become better informed: Most discussions with Christians regarding politics are based on their ignorant prejudicial opinions and not on facts! We need to be better informed and understand what’s critical and what’s true. We need to comprehend the manifestos of the candidates at the very least.
2. We should be those who vote: When only 30% or 40% of people vote, a minority can end up deciding the fate of the country. This makes it all the more vital that we vote. If about 60% of our population are calling themselves Christians, imagine the impact we could have if we all voted. But we should vote not so much for ourselves, as for others. When a country is run badly, the first people to suffer are the voiceless, the dispossessed and the poor. A failure to vote is therefore a failure to look after the interests of those for whom we ought to care (Isaiah 58:5-7).
3. We should carefully consider whom we vote for: Having decided that we are going to vote, we now face the difficult question of who to vote for. Do we vote on local issues or national? Do we vote for candidates or a party or against them? Do we vote for the candidate we want even if we know that he or she has no hope of winning? Is tactical voting ever permissible? These are difficult questions but we need to answer them for ourselves by looking at the candidate’s principles and examine what plans he has if he finally resumes office. His personality may also be a valuable tool.
In seeking office as Christians, we need to
1. Ensure that we are led by the Lord: We can’t go off half-cocked and start campaigning for presidency if we have not been called to do so. We need to have an introspective examination of our heart and our motives before running for office.
2. Decide not to compromise: This is easier said than done. Many a Christian with a wonderful testimony before entering office suddenly becomes a chameleon when he is elected. If we really want to make a change or make impact and shine as light, then being unwilling to compromise in any form must be our stand.
3. Do our best: That’s what everyone expects of every political candidate though more than often we get the reverse but as Christians we have a higher level of responsibility to do to the best of our ability what we have been put into office for. No half-measures are acceptable. It requires our full commitment.
Do you think Christians should go into politics or not? Tell us your reasons, for and against, in the comment box.