Nearly 300 years ago, Jonathan Edwards penned his now-famous Resolutions. According to Stephen Nichols, these 70 resolutions were recorded by Edwards at a moment when he was nearing the end of his ministerial training, taking “advantage of the opportunity to pause and reflect on the type of person he wanted to be and the way in which he wanted to live his life.” In effect, with his Resolutions, Edwards wrote a “system of checks and balances he would use to chart out his life–his relationships, his conversations, his desires, his activities.” Informed by the Word of God like few others, Edwards, with this “advice to himself,” set guardrails to keep his feet on the way of faithfulness.
We need a resolution
Undoubtedly, countless of us have benefited from Edwards’ advice. It is in that vein that I propose a set of resolutions for the day in which we live, specifically in our American cultural-political context.
What kind of people are we becoming? What kind of life do we want to live? These were the sorts of questions that Edwards paused and asked himself, and these are the very questions that we must pause and, with Christlike humility, ask of ourselves. In a political culture rife with disrespect, slander, and self-serving theatrics, behaviors that the church is regularly seen participating in, we find ourselves in dire need of our own Godward guardrails.
So, as we go forward, may the following resolutions serve as a system of checks and balances meant to stay our feet on the way of Christ and engage others with the heart of Christ.
10 political resolutions for 2021 and beyond
I want to begin with Edwards’ own words: “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.”
- Resolved, to view others, regardless of religious or political affiliation, as persons made in the image of God, and to treat them as such.
- Resolved, in politics, as in life, “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God” (Micah 6:8).
- Resolved, to be devoted to the truth, most especially God’s Word, but, likewise, truth generally, taking care not to purport that which is untrustworthy and/or false.
- Resolved, to act instinctively toward others not with skepticism or cynicism but, regardless of one’s religious or political affiliation, to assume the best and give the benefit of the doubt unless proven otherwise.
- Resolved, to always speak and act with charity.
- Resolved, where appropriate, to exercise the courage required to participate in local, state, and/or federal civil service, whether as an official or simply an engaged citizen, for “the peace and prosperity of the city” where God has placed me (Jer. 29:7).
- Resolved, as far as it depends on me, to never allow political affiliation to dissolve my fellowship with a brother or sister in Christ, a family member, a friend, or a neighbor.
- Resolved, to hold elected officials accountable to the standards of the office to which they’ve been appointed, and to do so with charity and respect, for their good, for the good of those they represent or govern, and for the public witness of the church.
- Resolved, to be a good church member, family member, friend, neighbor, and citizen.
- Resolved, to reserve my first and strongest allegiance to Christ and his kingdom, recognizing that “to love my country best I must love Christ first.”
For Christ and the common good
As Americans, we have the pleasure and the privilege of engaging directly in the politics that govern our country. As Christians, we have the responsibility to do so in a way that is pleasing to the God who made us and “determined our appointed times and the boundaries of where we live” (Acts 17:26). It is a privilege and responsibility that should be exercised with integrity, great care, and sobriety. May these resolutions serve as guardrails for faithful Christian civic engagement, for the glory of God and the good of our society. And, like Edwards, may these resolutions signal and enact our “utmost determination to bring every area of our life under subjection of the Lordship of Christ.”