The Church Beyond The Ballot

Politics affect people, and people matter to Jesus. All through the Scriptures, faith in God carries with it a concern for the welfare of others. Tim Keller notes, “Jesus forbids us to withhold help from our neighbors, and this will inevitably require that we participate in political processes.”

American politics has social implications that intersect with the kingdom of Jesus. Yet, Jesus is not partisan. Jesus cares more about the state of his Church than the state of America. Why? Because the church is his. Our Spiritual identity as Jesus’ brothers and sisters carries with it a responsibility to America and every nation that cannot be achieved by the proxy of political power. 

To that end, following Jesus doesn’t make American Christians politically centrist; He makes us political homeless. He doesn’t split the difference between two parties, he subverts them because his authority is tied not to a party but a throne. His is the politics of heaven. Jesus doesn’t disconnect his disciples from current politics. He crucifies our allegiance to politics as a first order loyalty. It’s been said and continues to be true, the Church as Jesus’ body on earth will always be God’s Plan A.

“Jesus crucifies our allegiance to politics.”

The partisan issues of abortion and ethnic disparities are human problems, not to be solved by the vote alone. For example, statistics show that many mothers opt for abortion due to poverty. Is the local church prepared to protect life by addressing the conditions of poverty that threaten it? I believe the local church is equipped for this work, not by itself, but by the Spirit of Jesus.

Gospel proclamation leads to kingdom participation. Evangelism leads to discipleship. We cannot disconnect the gospel from it’s outcomes. James 1:27 makes this plain, “true religion before the Father is to visit orphans and widows in their afflication and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Only a culture of life and discipleship that springs from the Spirit of life at work in the society of the Church can do what the society of politics promises but cannot provide.

The game of politics rises and falls today, the Spirit of Jesus fell on the Church thousands of years ago. No country can do what the Church is empowered to do. We stand not only to offer an invitation into Jesus’ kingdom, but as a first order society, we also participate in Jesus’ kingdom today, welcoming the stranger, caring for the vulnerable and the marginalized. We can be the city on the hill Jesus spoke of.

Jesus’ rule in the society of the Church is subversive to any human society. Together as Jesus’ body, followers of Jesus have a first order responsibility, beyond politics, to live out the fullness of Jesus’ reign in the world, to the world, for the glory of God. We can vote, but we must live.

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Published by Jared Stacy

Jared is an American Pastor, writer, and PhD Candidate in Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

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