How True Christians View Politics
Christians are being urged to participate in politics. What should the true Christian do? Should he try to change the world? Or should he change himself to harmonize with Christianity?
POLITICS is more and more in the news. And more and more people are turning to politics, either by becoming members of political parties or by voting for party candidates. Amid the growing popularity of politics is heard the voice of religion. This voice too talks politics. But sermonizing on political matters is not all; religion urges professed Christians to be active politically, as did Pope Pius XII, who, according to the New York Times of July 23, 1956, “urged Roman Catholics today to take an active part in politics.” But even without clerical exhortation, the masses of professed Christians are so immersed in politics that many are more active politically than religiously. All this prompts some questions.
But seldom do people stop to ponder these questions: Is it by plunging into politics that a person demonstrates he is a follower of Christ? Is this quest to better the world through politics the example set by Jesus and the early Christians?
We can read in history books about the position taken by the early Christians regarding politics. Thus the book Christianity and the Roman Government by E. G. Hardy speaks of early Christians and “their aversion to all civic duties and offices.” Another book, On the Road to Civilization, A World History, by Heckel and Sigman, tells us: “Christians refused to share certain duties of Roman citizens. . . . They would not hold political office.”
Were those early Christians wrong in not trying to better the world by taking part in politics? How could they be? They had Christ Jesus, the Founder of Christianity, and his apostles to guide them.
The Textbook of Christianity, the Bible, tells us why those early Christians shunned politics. It shows that a fundamental principle of Christianity is separateness from the world. And the early Christians changed their lives to live up to this requirement for right worship. Said the Bible writer James: “The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.” “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” To delve into politics would mean to show friendship for the world, and to show friendship for the world would mean to make oneself an enemy of God. That is why the early Christians shunned politics.—Jas. 1:27; 4:4, NW.
GOD’S KINGDOM NO PART OF THIS WORLD
But why should true Christians shun politics when they could do much, seemingly, to better the world? The answer is, as the Bible shows, that true Christians do not advocate or preach democracy, socialism, communism or any other form of human government as a remedy for the world’s woes. What Christians preach is a heavenly government, the kingdom of God. And that kingdom is not part of this world. Said Jesus: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.”—John 18:36, NW.
God’s kingdom is no mere social reform. It is the government that will rule the universe. To make way for the universal rule of God’s kingdom, the Bible shows, the political governments of this world must be destroyed. Not from men will come this destruction, but from God. Declared the prophet Daniel: “In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”—Dan. 2:44, AS.
So the early Christians were careful not to meddle with politics. They knew that God’s kingdom is destined to destroy all political governments and that those involved in politics would be enemies of God and hence also in line for destruction. Vigorously the early Christians preached the Kingdom hope of the world. They showed the utter futility of trusting in human rulers. The apostle Paul wrote: “Now we speak wisdom among those who are adults, but not the wisdom of this system of things nor that of the rulers of this system of things who are to come to nothing.” We are still living in what the Bible calls this “present wicked system of things.” But soon now at the impending war of Armageddon the rulers of this world will come to nothing. Those persons friendly with the world are in line for the same fate.—1 Cor. 2:6; Gal. 1:4, NW.
Jesus wanted his followers to live and not suffer destruction with this evil world. So he urged them, not to participate in politics, but to stay separate from the world. He set the example himself and always lived up to his words: “I am no part of the world.”—John 17:16, NW.
On one occasion the populace of Galilee wanted Jesus to plunge into politics. The people saw that Jesus was righteous and wise and they realized that he would make the ideal political ruler. They may have felt that Jesus was merely throwing away his opportunities by preaching a future kingdom when he could have a kingdom right there and then. How did Jesus respond to the crowd’s popular draft? “Therefore Jesus, realizing they were about to come and seize him to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain all alone.” No politics for Jesus!—John 6:15, NW.
CHANGE YOURSELF TO FIT CHRISTIANITY
The attitude of that crowd gives us an idea as to what the masses today try to do to Christianity. That group was not really interested in living Christianity. Oh, they were greatly interested in the by-products of Christianity, but hardly at all in Christianity itself. They reasoned, If he will give us loaves and fishes, better houses, shorter hours, bigger wages and the means to lighten our work and add to our leisure, then let us follow him and make him our ruler. For their own selfish purposes they wanted Jesus to be made king; they wanted Jesus to change Christianity. But Jesus did not change that requirement of Christianity—separateness from the world—to suit men. If they wanted to be Christ’s followers they would have to change themselves to fit Christianity.
The attitude of the masses today is little different. As a result, to the masses Christianity is a watered-down faith, a faith that has been adulterated, toned down and altered to suit the moods of those who did not like the Christian requirements as they stood. Though the Bible is clear on the Christian requirement of separateness from the world, most people who call themselves Christian quickly change that requirement to suit themselves. But the true Christian does not alter the requirement; he alters himself to suit the requirement. The Bible command is: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and complete will of God.”—Rom. 12:2, NW.
For a Christian to participate in the world’s politics is to fashion himself after this system of things. Rather, the Christian changes himself, if he is to be a true Christian, according to the “acceptable and complete will of God.” So after learning what God’s requirements are, a change in the person, not the requirements, must be made. “Put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires.” The change in the person results in a new personality, fashioned not after this world but after God’s will: “Put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness.”—Eph. 4:22-24, NW.
One who puts on the “new personality” can no longer be a part of this world. He must follow closely in the footsteps of Christ Jesus, who said of his followers: “They are no part of the world just as I am no part of the world.” “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.”—John 17:16; 15:19, NW.
“No part of the world”—that is the stand taken by true Christians. This does not mean withdrawing oneself from association with all people of the world and living a hermit’s life in the seclusion of a monastery. No, Jesus did not become a monk to keep himself unspotted from the world. He did a preaching work, visiting the people in their homes; and yet he kept himself from friendship with the world. Jesus wanted no part of this world because he knew that the political powers of this world are by and are under the “ruler of this world,” “the god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil. “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”—John 12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19, NW.
How clear now why friendship with the world means enmity with God! This world is ruled by God’s archenemy, the Devil. Friends of this world, then, must be enemies of God. How can Christians involve themselves in worldly politics and expect God’s approval? They cannot! “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”—1 John 2:15, NW.
Christ Jesus truly had the love of his Father, Jehovah. At all times he kept himself without spot from the world. Even when offered rulership of this world Jesus rejected it, retaining his love for his Father and his Christian separateness from the world. The Bible tells us: “The Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him: ‘All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.’ Then Jesus said to him: ‘Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship.’”—Matt. 4:8-10, NW.
THIS WORLD AND ITS POLITICS DOOMED
The Devil controlled all the kingdoms of the world in Jesus’ day; he still does. But soon now the “ruler of this world” will be put out of the way and this present wicked system of things forever come to its end. True Christians, then, demonstrate that they are followers of Christ, not by trying to patch up this world or reform it through politics, but by declaring the good news of the kingdom that will destroy this world. No matter how many votes are cast for the rulers of this system of things it is doomed. No amount of political campaigning, no number of professed Christians in politics and no amount of prayers for this world by the clergy or politicians will save it from certain destruction. “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17, NW.
When this world comes to its fiery end at the war of Armageddon, all the rulers of the earth and their supporters, no matter of what political ideology or religious belief, will be against Jehovah’s King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ Jesus. The Revelation account says: “I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army.” The political powers will go down in defeat before Christ Jesus and his heavenly armies and will be hurled into the “fiery lake that burns with sulphur,” the Gehenna of everlasting destruction.—Rev. 19:19-21, NW.
After this wicked system of things has been destroyed and Satan the Devil put out of the way a new world of righteousness begins under the Kingdom. The Kingdom will give mankind a perfect government and, not only that, but the opportunity for everlasting life. The survivors of Jehovah’s “war of the great day of God the Almighty” will enjoy a righteous new world that will be “one world.” For there will be but one government, and that government will be heavenly. Politics will be gone, and gone for good. The politics that have divided men of all religions and caused men of the very same religion to kill one another for political systems will be gone for all time.—Rev. 16:14, NW.
You can enjoy the everlasting blessings of the righteous government or kingdom that will embrace all this earthly globe in its rule. To do so means changing oneself to harmonize with the requirements of Christianity, paramount of which is the command to be no part of this world.
Today the Christian witnesses of Jehovah, like the witnesses of Jehovah in the early days of Christianity, keep unspotted from the world. They conscientiously refrain from taking part in the politics of this world, yes, even from voting. They know that political participation not only would be futile but would bring God’s disapproval. Maintaining the true Christian view of politics will help you keep unspotted from this wicked system of things and gain everlasting life under the perfect government of the post-Armageddon new world.
Where is the wise man? Where the scribe? Where the debater of this system of things? Did not God make the wisdom of the world foolish? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not get to know God, God saw good through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing. . . . Because a foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and a weak thing of God is stronger than men. . . . and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are.—1 Cor. 1:20-28, NW.