The current political climate in America is divisive. As a Christian, I find it hard to navigate politics and culture without losing sight of faith or God’s plan for my life. Should Christians be concerned with politics? Is there a place for Christians in the political sphere? I have wrestled with these questions, but have found encouragement through what God has taught me.
I joined both the College Republicans and College Democrats to understand how politics operated on campus. For my leadership project, I organized and moderated three political forums on campus between the College Republicans and Democrats to give students a chance to hear where both clubs stand on issues of economics, abortion, and foreign policy. Each forum was designed to be strictly education-based and bipartisan. I believe politics at its core should be bipartisan, and that students, especially Christians, should learn how to respect and work alongside those with opposing viewpoints. Even though I participated at a small level by hosting forums, I was able to research important topics and understand how to view both sides of an issue through the eyes of someone else. It is easy to have an opinion on an issue when watching the news. It is harder to formulate an opinion when face-to-face with another person, much less an entire audience of differing viewpoints. Local representation and public service, especially at a small Christian school, is not glamorous. However, it is rewarding because change happens at a fundamental level. I believe that if Christians are to leave their universities with the ability to influence society, whether in public service or not, they should understand the importance of self-education and bipartisanship. I encourage any Christian struggling with pursuing politics learn how to serve and represent others.
My desire to approach politics stemmed from the influences of professors, speakers, and political internships. Last semester I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Thornbury, the President of The King’s College, speak in chapel of the importance of Christians engaging their culture. He argued that Christians have a unique opportunity to engage society through higher education and learning. His words have solidified my approach to politics. Christians who are equipped with skills in rhetoric and knowledge of philosophy, history, and evangelical theology are better prepared to engage and influence society without the risk of losing “saltiness” as Matthew 5:13 warns. I believe one of the inherent problems with the modern American Church is its reluctance to permeate culture. Perhaps we are afraid to approach politics because of “separation of church and state”, or because Christ never explicitly talks about politics in the Gospels. Maybe we are convinced that Christianity has no place in Washington because God’s kingdom is above man’s system of governance.
However, the reason Christians should not be afraid to express interest in politics traces back to Christ’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). If we truly believe that God has gifted us with unique skills and passions, then it follows that He desires to mold us as a potter to his clay so that we can fulfill His plan and exhibit His kingdom. Christians should not question their career path or interests as long as they are pursuing Christ and seeking to fulfill his plan. The ideology that expresses hesitation towards politics or law is the same ideology that has inhibited the Church from actively engaging its culture and preparing Christians to permeate society to further God’s Kingdom. Christians are called to be “the light of the world” that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). In a political climate that is consistently antagonistic and divided, I believe the call for Christians to participate in government and in society is essential. Christians have the peace of existing in this world but not being of it. Yet it comes with a responsibility to witness and influence others towards Christ.
I am encouraged by the prospect of serving in politics as a Christian because I know that our society desperately needs Christ, and it will continue to need Christ until He returns. Therefore, Christians should not be afraid to pursue higher education or their interests. If God leads you to politics, trust that He will use you according to His will. Consider applying for political internships to gauge your interests and gain experience. Just because the separation of Church and State exists in political philosophy does not negate the need for Christians to operate in political society.
Jackson Love is from Tulsa, OK and currently studies electrical engineering at John Brown University. In 2016, he spent a summer interning for Senator Lankford in Oklahoma and currently serves as JBU Student Government Association (SGA) President.