I cannot think of a time I’ve heard the word, “politics” in a favorable fashion — especially in Christian circles. I’m sure you’ve heard the same quips I have:
“That’s politics for you.”
“They’re playing politics.”
“Don’t get political.”
“That was a political move.”
Most often, the word seems to be used as a pejorative. Yet, I contend that we have erred in allowing the term politics to become only and always a negative.
Merriam-Webster defines politics as “the art or science of government.”
In America, we as a people are blessed to have a system of self-government. Therefore, politics for Americans is simply the tightly-held ability to participate and influence the laws and systems which rule our earthly lives. This unique situation of self-governance sets America apart from many nations around the world — nations in which people are not free and in which people have no say in how they are governed.
As Americans living in abundance and freedom compared with so much of the world, it can be easy to take this blessing for granted, but if we just pause for a moment, we can truly appreciate what a wonderful thing it is to rule ourselves. Many, many people around the world would probably give just about anything for the opportunity to influence their government and more than that — to have their government answerable and accountable to the populace.
So, while the political process can be wearisome, what with the campaign ads, constant news coverage, hostility between parties and often cumbersome governmental procedures, perhaps we can turn our campaign-season fatigue into praise — praise and thanks to God that we have the incredible blessing of living in a free land which requires our involvement in our self-governance.
The Bible warns Christ’s followers not to grumble or complain (Phil. 2:14), but instead encourages us to give thanks continually (1 Thess. 5:18) and to set an example for other believers in conduct and speech (1 Tim. 4:12). What a witness Christians could be if we defied the cultural norms of complaining about politics and instead gave thanks to God for our freedom, prayed for our government (1 Tim. 2:1-4) and sought ways to positively influence our political system?
Personally, I recommit myself today to looking for ways to be thankful, prayerful and helpful rather than slouching into the default position of complaining and grumbling. Politics is not a dirty word, in and of itself. Certainly, we can site example after example of “dirt” within our political system, but that merely reflects the sinfulness of the human heart and its propensity toward corruption and evil (Jer. 17:9, Rom. 3:23, Gen. 6:5).
Let us reclaim the word politics for good, be grateful for self-governance and be a light in an otherwise dark sphere of society (Eph. 5:7-9, Matt. 5:16, John 8:12, 1 John 1:7).