Imagine a Christian talking about politics. Are they shrill, accusatory and divisive? When faced with pressing issues, would they start coming up with solutions that work on paper but are insensitive to the human cost? Or would they focus so much on the happiness of the people affected that they'd ignore the toll their policies could take on the larger systems that make up their city? Would they just entirely opt out from the conversation, leaving the responsibility of keeping the civic system running on the shoulders of somebody—anybody—else?
The Christian faith is a missionary faith, commanding its adherents to carry its truths into every corner of the world around them. That means Christians of every era in every place have had to wrestle with the question of how to engage their city or country's public life with the message of who Jesus is. There's never been a universally accepted set of directions about how to do that-—every era, society and form of government has presented believers with circumstances and questions that are new and uniquely challenging. Believing in Christ in ancient Rome, Medieval France, Renaissance Spain, Ottoman Turkey and Soviet Russia would each entail a starkly different-—and sometimes fluid—-approach to public life.
How can Christians living in the U.S. today approach the political world in a way that honors the gospel? What kind of attitudes should the faith prompt as we talk about the major (and minor) issues of our day? How can we advocate for the policies we think are best without allowing our partisan allies to mistake their political positions for gospel salvation? And how can how can we pursue our preferred political agenda without convincing our political opponents that we think they are beyond Christ's love?
In short, when it comes to politics and civic life, how can we think and behave in ways that are distinctly Christ-like?
The Body Politic was founded by two friends in Washington, DC, who brought these questions to one another from opposite sides of the aisle. Together with a team of other evangelical Christians, we are working together to explore what it looks like to love God with all your mind when what's on your mind is politics.
Every Monday and Wednesday, we'll hear from ordinary Americans who disagree with one another about political policy but share a love for Christ and a desire to see his kingdom come. We're also excited to bring you exclusive content from Ministry to State, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, No Labels and pastors from around the country every Friday.
We hope that these articles will help you better understand people who disagree with you, and equip you to better represent Christ whenever you interact with the political world. None of us are going to be perfect at this until Jesus comes back and perfects us, so don’t be afraid to take part in the conversation. You don't need to be an expert to get involved—as the old hymn says, "If you tarry until you're better, you'll never come at all."
We’re all looking forward to growing and serving together.
As Executive Director of Center for Christian Civics, Rick helps ministry leaders and faith communities develop missional approaches to their local public squares. He has worked on campaigns for local, state and federal office, is a former writer and editor for Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and oversaw communications for the Grace DC church network. He and his wife live in Washington, DC.