Talking after church mid-week, the preacher that night asked me, “When Jesus teaches, ‘Render to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’ Who is Caesar?” (Mark 12:17)
I responded by saying: “The government”.
“And who is the government?”
Living in Western democracies as Christians, we often think in terms of separation of church and state; that the church is separate from the affairs of the state.
To an extent this is true, as we owe our spiritual allegiance to God, however, we often forget that we are part of the political system that directly involves the average citizen.
Unfortunately, it has been an increasing trend that as our society becomes increasingly secular and anti-Christian, Christians continue to respond by retreating to the safety of our pews instead of boldly going forth into a world that needs Christ.
So why aren’t more Christians involved?
I pondered a few reasons why Christians may be put off from getting involved.
1. Dirty politics including corruption
2. Social perception
3. Politics is too complex and opaque
4. Misinterpreting or selective use of Scripture
For myself, it was a combination of these things that initially kept me from getting involved or at least held me back from expressing my political opinion in a more open way.
My Chinese heritage had a cultural attitude that politics was too big or too complex for the average person to understand, while the idea of being a politician was not viewed highly as a profession compared to a doctor or a lawyer.
The idea of engaging with politics or social issues on a broad scale was also absent in the churches and circles that I found myself in. It was always a case of acknowledging that government was around and above us, but not something we should enter or touch because it was interpreted that government was manipulated by worldly forces that were not from God.
This thinking came from the fact that increasingly, society and the government has developed into a more progressive institution that no longer aligned with Christian values, therefore, naturally Christians have begun to disengage or look for other methods to interact with society. This response is biblically minded as in Acts chapter 5 verse 29, Peter responds to the Sanhedrin on the charges of blasphemy saying that “We must obey God rather than men.”
However, it is my opinion that it is not biblically sufficient to support inaction.
Because if we examine the context of Acts 5:29, Peter and the disciples already went out to proclaim the Gospel. It wasn’t a case of deciding whether to go or not. Rather, I think Jesus’ teaching for us to be salt and light in Matthew chapter 5 verses 13-16 is motivation for us to be involved in politics or any other sort of secular activity where we engage with the culture.
This may simply look like talking to co-workers about church when they ask you what you did on the weekend, or debating the effects of same sex marriage over a beer with someone who supports marriage equality.
If Christians are not in the public sphere engaging with society, then who will be the salt and light?
It wasn’t until late high school when I succeeded in running for school captain and got my first taste of student politics that I discovered that there was not only an art to politics but also a worthy cause in applying ourselves in thought and action to stand for what we believe is beneficial to society.
So my own embarrassment, I couldn’t answer the preacher when he asked me about the meaning of Mark chapter 12 verse 17, so he finally told me the answer was, ‘us’; the People. Mark 12:17 is historically applied to the king, and it now actually applies to us as we have replaced the role of the king in society; to govern, to protect, and to prosper.
Think about what this really means for us as Christians, and I hope you can join me and many others in engaging our world for Christ and his Gospel.
Jack is studying Commerce and Arts at Macquarie University, he is part of a family of five, his interests include politics, church history, and writing on controversial subjects.
Whilst he is theologically Anglican, he attends Gracepoint Presbyterian and serves the community through music.
Jack Liang's previous articles may be viewed at