Healthy Christian Political Engagement in India

After the elections, every Christian in India must continue to bear responsibility to seek the wholeness of the nation through healthy political engagement.

As India’s general elections conclude, it feels as if the once-in-5-years electoral verdict is the end of the public’s participation in the nation’s politics. But is casting your vote the only thing God calls Christians to do in politics? What does healthy Christian political engagement look like?

The Greek word politika (affairs of the city) implies that politics has to do with every decision and power structure that shapes the city and national life. So we cannot confine politics to what happens in the parliament. We cannot reduce it to choosing one political vision over another.

The biblical vision of politics calls every Christian to actively participate in the affairs of the city because God made humans in his image, to be his royal vice-regents on earth (Gen. 1:26-28). This is true for everyone, especially God’s people, whether we live in a democracy or not. But what does this participation look like?

Christian Political Engagement Seeks Wholeness

In Jeremiah 29:4-7, God provides a helpful pattern for his children to participate in politics. In historical context, the people of Judah are in captivity in Babylonian exile. Unfavourable cultural and political realities surround them. They were a minority and their rulers saw them as inferior and ridiculed them. All God’s people could ask for at this time was escape from Babylon and a quick return to their homeland.

We cannot confine politics to what happens in the parliament

The false prophets of the day prophesied in favour of this longing. However, God’s message through the true prophet Jeremiah was a different one. He wrote “Seek the welfare of the city.” Here, welfare is shalom. It is difficult to find an English equivalent. But it carries a sense of wholeness, prosperity, welfare, and overall human flourishing. God is calling his people to participate in Babylonian affairs for the benefit of Babylon.

God wanted his people to do this by building houses, planting gardens, marrying, and growing in numbers. They needed to think beyond self-concern and self-preservation. He wanted them to invest themselves in intentional ways in the flourishing of the city and the state.

What is the motivation for this call? Seeking the well-being of the city would ensure their own well-being. More importantly, God placed them in Babylon for a purpose—to be a blessing.

Seeking Wholeness Through the Affairs of the City

As we face a new electoral term, remember God desires our political participation to go beyond voting in the elections. We should intentionally invest in the economic welfare of the nation, create art and culture, develop technology that promotes goodness and transparency, advocate for the voiceless, and engage in the power corridors of the nation—the legislature, bureaucracy, and judiciary.

Like Jesus, we need to be willing to lose something we love to do something that God wants

We need to do everything within our power, whether small or big, to be involved in shaping the direction of the nation. As we do all of this, the one thing that should mark our actions is Christ-likeness. Like Jesus, we need to be willing to lose something we love to do something that God wants.

Do not discount the value of your small-scale Christ-like acts. As Russell Moore observes in this article, “[Often] there are no large-scale solutions to these large-scale problems.” So, in the words of Wendell Berry, “What we [really] need is… many small solutions.”

If you are still wondering what small-scale solution you can take up, simply start with prayer. As Jeremiah says, “Seek the welfare of the city. . . and pray to the LORD on its behalf” (Jer. 29:7).

Healthy Christian political engagement invites you to consider how your mental, physical, intellectual, and spiritual resources can contribute to your city and country’s flourishing. However small and obscure it may be, it is worth investing your energy into the welfare of the city by taking part in the affairs of the city.

The Most Fruitful Engagement in the Affairs of the City

Remember, it is in the obscurity of the incarnation of the Son of God that God wrote the greatest story of redemption. His ultimate plan for our eternal flourishing came at the cost of the life of his Son (Eph. 3:10-11). His immediate plan for our city’s flourishing may come at the cost of laying ours down. Since he gave his life for us, we can offer our lives to him (1 Pet. 2:15-17, 24). So with God’s help, seize the opportunity and seek the wholeness of the nation for in its wholeness lies your own.