As a conservative Christian I strongly favor conservative Christian candidates to fill positions in our government. But I often ask just how might our politics and culture change were Christians running the government? Would we then be restored as a Christian nation or would we be defined as Christian because we have Christian leaders rather than because our citizens are born-again believers. Having a Christian leader doesn’t mean we embrace his Christianity. I think we are sometimes lured into the ‘mission’ of electing Christians to political office and then we believe the fallacy that by doing this we will become a Christian nation. We will only become Christian if we have a reviving of God’s Spirit, if we repent of our sin and a turn back to God rather than to a conservative government.
Augustine of Hippo proposed in his City of God that there are only two cities, the City of God and the City of Man. He didn’t portray these two cities as corresponding to earthly institutions. The church does not represent the City of God nor does the government represent the City of Man. The cities he referred to were invisible.
All true believers belong to the City of God. They love their Creator. They live their lives to bring glory to him and they expect to live eternally with him.
All those who reject Christ as the Savior belong to the City of Man. They love the creation more than the Creator. They love themselves more than God. Everyone on earth is a citizen of one city or the other.
I believe Christians are obligated to vote their conscience. I believe Christians should be actively seeking to reform our government and point others to Christ. But I believe we must take care not to equate reforming the government with evangelizing the lost. Should our major effort not be in building the City of God rather than the governments of men?
Some would take Augustine’s analogy a step further. They would say we are actually citizens of two kingdoms. This earthly kingdom belongs to God because he created it and he is sovereign over it. But his main focus is on the establishment of his church. The church is made up of those who have been redeemed, those whom he has called out of this world. As dual citizens we have obligations to both his earthly and heavenly kingdoms.
Jesus recognized that we have a mission to accomplish in this earthly kingdom because he prayed this in John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of this world but that you protect them from the evil one.” While I believe Christ wants us to live in this world , I believe he wants us to demonstrate a Christ-likeness to those who are lost by obeying His command to come “out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
We are temporary citizens living in a very sinful culture. Rather than spending so much time trying to reform a kingdom that will one day pass away, should we not be much more committed to building a kingdom that will last for all of eternity?