As I mentioned in August 2013, Wayne Grudem’s book, Politics According to the Bible is a worthwhile resource on American politics and the Christian life. Now, I can’t stand the title of the book and I surely don’t agree with everything Grudem says in it, but it was a stimulating read for me (here’s my review). Over the years I’ve wrestled with what it means to be a citizen of the United States and a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m not a “Christian Patriot,” but I did serve a full term in the military. I don’t think the United States is “God’s special country,” but I am thankful to live here. Grudem’s book was a good conversation partner in my thinking even when I disagreed with him.
For one example, I’ve thought about this question: Do Christians in the United States (or other similar countries) have an obligation to do more than simply vote? Grudem, in my opinion, was persuasive that we should do more than simply vote.
“The question is whether someone thinks it is morally right to receive great benefits from a nation but to give almost nothing in return. The great freedoms that citizens have in the United States came only as a result of great sacrifice on the part of millions of others. The original signers of the Declaration of Independence knew that they were publicly declaring themselves to be guilty of treason against Britain, and they knew they would be subject to the death penalty and to confiscation of their property if the British caught them or defeated them.”
Grudem then goes on to note how many military men and women throughout the years died to protect and maintain the freedom we have in the U.S. He continues:
“These hundreds and thousands of men (and many women as well) sacrificed their lives to protect their nation and preserve the freedoms we enjoy today. Is it right that we simply enjoy these freedoms while giving back to our nation nothing in return? If so many have given their very lives to protect and preserve our nation, then do the rest of us who receive such great benefits from these sacrifices not have an obligation to do something more than merely voting? …Is it not right that all of us at least do something more than merely voting to preserve and protect this nation?” (p. 74-75).
Much more could be said, of course; I wish Grudem would have expanded on this. As Christians we do have a duty to love our neighbor, help promote his welfare, and help those who need it. And we have a duty to pray for our leaders, pray for peace, and pay taxes. And broadly speaking about ethics, it is right and proper for a person who is part of a group, club, family, or country to contribute for the well-being of others, to do his or her part (this is why we make our kids do chores!).
Still another way to put it might be like this: in the kingdom of grace, we are called to use our gifts to serve fellow brothers and sisters and contribute to church life. In the kingdom of power, we are called to use our gifts to serve others and contribute to life in our community/city/country. Being a leech, being lazy, or being the infamous sluggard in Proverbs is not acceptable in either realm.