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A Christian’s Participation in the Public Square is Essential

Lindsay Nicolet

I confess that I find politics exhausting and discouraging in our current societal climate. Important differences can’t be debated without vilification and the worst kind of assumptions. People on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum don’t treat one another with respect, recognizing the inherent dignity in their opponents. And worse yet, Christians are some of the chief offenders. Far from salt and light, we often come off more like vinegar and cast unhelpful shadows, both of which can tempt me toward a hands-off approach. 

But withdrawal is not the right course of action. That’s because government—however fallen—is a gift from God (Romans 13). And Christian participation in the public square is essential. Not everyone will be gifted or called to be involved in the same way, but we all have a role to play as salt and light in our nation’s governance. We may be compelled to serve in public office, passionate about legislating policy matters, or just eager to cast a wise vote during our local, state, and national elections. Regardless of the degree of participation, individual Christians, through their distinct difference from the nonbeliever made possible by the Spirit, should serve as a preservative in our culture and a light that illuminates the goodness of God’s ways and character. 

Our latest issue of Light magazine serves as a measure of encouragement and a reminder of our call as Christians to seek the welfare and flourishing of those around us through the way we live, speak, and advocate. Authors like Katie Frugé and Josh Wester discuss how Scripture compels us to seek our neighbors’ good through involvement in the public square. Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee, D.J. Jordan, and Alex Harris share wisdom about a Christian’s character in public service based on their experiences. And members of the ERLC’s staff provide a look at the various ways we advocate on behalf of Southern Baptists in accordance with God’s Word. 

I would encourage you to evaluate your own heart as you read this edition of Light magazine. Have you contributed to the vitriol we witness online? Do you regularly make assumptions about those you only interact with as an avatar? Are you apathetic to the idea that anything good can come from the public square? 

Politics isn’t everything, but it is something. It is not our hope as believers, but it is a tool God uses to allow us to serve our neighbors and to cultivate an environment where the gospel can freely go forth. Ultimately, Jesus—and the hope of the gospel—is the reason we go through the pains of participating in the public square. Only he can bring us the peace and satisfaction we often look for in the public square. And only he can usher in a kingdom that cannot be shaken or stained by sin. 

Lindsay Nicolet
Managing Editor, Light Magazine

Lindsay Nicolet serves as the Editorial Director. She oversees the day-to-day management of our online content from the Nashville office. Lindsay completed her Master of Divinity at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is married to Justin and they have a daughter and a son.