The Proper Perspective on Politics: Yield to Falling Rocks
Do we put too much time, effort, and worry into politics? Or do we neglect politics too often instead?
This might be an odd question coming from a Christian organization dedicated to political advocacy. Isn’t our job to get people to be more concerned about politics? Would we ever think it is possible to give too much attention to advancing a political agenda in the world?
Well, yes. Just as it is possible that we choose certain areas to ignore our calling to be salt and light in the world, it is also possible that we can become so consumed in our political advocacy that we begin to think that everything can be solved by earthly politics.
This lesson is apparent in scripture, specifically in Daniel 2. In this familiar narrative, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that leaves him troubled. His magicians, astrologers, and wise men are unable to recount and then interpret his dream with their mystical arts and educated guesses. Daniel, after much prayer and giving full glory to God, goes to the king, recounts the dream, and explains its meaning: many great kingdoms would arise throughout the ages, yet eventually another kingdom, “cut out by no human hand,” smashes these kingdoms and grows to extend over the whole earth.
What does this mean for the here and now? Fundamentally, it points out that temporal kingdoms and achievements ultimately do not last. Instead of seeking to build earthly political kingdoms, Christians should be seeking the Kingdom of God. We must yield to that smashing stone, that falling rock.
Don’t misunderstand this – Christians are absolutely to be involved in the affairs of our earthly kingdoms. We affirm God’s command to the Jewish exiles to “seek the welfare of the city where [the LORD] has sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf” (Jeremiah 29:7). We affirm that we are the proverbial watchmen on the city wall, warning the city’s inhabitants of impending disaster (Ezekiel 33). We affirm that the gospel not only brings future salvation but also good news and instruction on how people ought to live on this earth as individuals but also as nation-states. We know that abortion, euthanasia, the breakdown of the family, and the rejection of biblical gender or sexual identities absolutely violate God’s law and creational norms, leaving people dead or broken. Perhaps too many Christian Canadians fail to bring the gospel to bear on our political life and the earthly kingdoms. ARPA exists, in part, to address this problem.
But there are other Canadians and other Christians (perhaps myself included) who place too much focus on political life, to the exclusion or detriment of other aspects of life. Politics cannot save us. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” whether that flesh and blood bear the name of Trudeau, the World Economic Forum, the CBC, or some other name, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). In every general election or leadership race, there are always voters who put almost messianic faith in one particular leader or group of leaders who claim that only they can “save Canada.” All they need, they claim, is to win an election and enact some sweeping policies and then everything will be alright. Things will go back to normal or back to some golden age in Western history.
But the golden age isn’t behind us. The golden age isn’t even in front of us. The golden age is coming down from above us, when Jesus Christ will sweep away the empires of this earth through supernatural means, through a stone “not cut by human hands” (see Daniel 2; Revelation 17-18).
One of the most comforting parts – but also sometimes frustrating part – of being a (Reformed) Christian is living with this tension, of having the Kingdom of God already here but not yet fully here, and so being ardently involved in politics while not being consumed by politics. It is a balance that is difficult to strike, but one that we are nevertheless called to strive for.
So, to those of you asleep at the political wheel, wake up! Open your eyes to the injustice, unrighteousness, and ungodliness in this country, this province, and this municipality. Highlight the good and denounce the bad in your local newspapers, on social media, and to your elected representatives. Vote for Christian politicians, participate in righteous campaigns, and be members of the best political party. The need abounds. The opportunities abound. There’s a federal leadership contest going on right now, there will be a new premier elected in Alberta in the coming months, and there are municipal elections happing in British Columbia in October.
But for those of you who are addicted to politics, wean yourself off your preoccupation with the affairs of these earthly kingdoms. Don’t allow the current state of political affairs make you fearful or anxious. Recognize that the world is not going to hell in a handbasket because of the actions of a particular, but that all events are part of God’s sovereign plan. Realize the limitations of politicians, governments, and media. Trust that God – not yourself – holds the future in His hands.
We can all continue to grow in a proper perspective on politics, and so also grow as blessings to the city in which we live, by yielding to that one great falling rock.