I recently read a paragraph written by Martha Gelhorn and published in a compilation of her writings from the 1930s to the 1980s titled “The View From the Ground.” Gelhorn had a 60-year career as a war correspondent, journalist, novelist, and was a companion and wife of Ernest Hemmingway.
People often say with pride, “I’m not interested in politics.” They might as well say, “I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future or any future.” Politics is the business of governing and nobody can escape being governed, for better or worse. In the few fortunate societies where voting is free and honest, most people take the weird view that politics is a horse race–you bet on a winner or loser every so often, if you can bestir yourself; but politics is not a personal concern. Politics is everything–from clean drinking water through the preservation of forests, whales, British Leyland to nuclear weapons and the disposal thereof. If we mean to keep any control over our world and lives, we must be interested in politics.
As a follower of Jesus, I would like to adapt and supplement her statement.
I have heard Christians smugly say, “I am neutral about politics.” They might as well say, “I am neutral about social injustice, world peace, the future of our children, freedom of religion, and the advancement of the Gospel.”
There is nothing especially spiritual about refusing to participate in culture and society and government. Holy love demands that we care about the abuse of our neighbor, that we unselfishly care about the welfare of others.
On earth in this dispensation we do not live in a theocracy. Men govern men.
Government is a necessary evil because men can be evil. First, if there is no rule of law, evil will flourish unchecked. Then, when we do necessarily establish human governments, we are obligated to engage in limiting evil men that hope to gain control… not just at home, but also where our neighbors live.
Followers of Christ were not instructed to isolate themselves. We ought to be people that make a difference, people that challenge society where it fails to love your neighbor as yourself, people that engage with both grace and diligence, people that live in the world without being contaminated by it.
Abstinence from politics is not Christ-like. It is selfish, smug and arrogant.