A Christian Political Fast?

This is the title of a thought-provoking piece that appeared this past week at the Washington Post online. The essence of the question is this:

How much political involvement can Christians stomach and still remain true to their faith? A cadre of religious believers in America is considering a mal-nourishing proposal: that followers of Jesus should “fast” from politics for two years.

The author then goes on to demolish this proposal, on the fairly solid grounds that, somehow, “religion concerns what happens after one dies, politics concerns what happens in Washington, D.C.”

On the other hand, Jesus told us, in no uncertain terms, “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). And, of course, that we must “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). Then there is this point, which the author acknowledges as having some merit:

Wedding the gospel to a particular nation-state or party is harmful to democracy and downright idolatrous for faith.

This point, in particular, is what would give me pause if I were inclined to inject my faith directly into politics. And that, I believe, is the key: “directly.”

Getting back to Jesus in Matthew 22, there is some thought that Jesus was speaking tongue-in-cheek. And it’s a point that is made every Sunday in church, when it comes time for the collection: we are merely returning to the faith some small portion of what has been given to us by God. No God, no Caesar. No God, no politics of any sort. Everything belongs to God is the point.

The very notion of a “fast” from politics is therefore wrong-headed. All we are, all of everything, comes from God. When we give to charity, preach the gospel to our family, friends, and neighbors, we are engaged in the world. Our faith should, our faith must, inform every political decision. In different words, our life in public is informed by and should be fueled by our faith.

As Christians, we can do no less.

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