IN Jersey City, on a recent Sunday, the pastor of the First Congregational Church preached on the subject “Why Some Christians Ignore Politics,” and arrive at some remarkable conclusions, according to the published report.
“Many Christians,” he said, “are poor citizens. They are forever talking about the kingdom of God, but they forget that it is to be on earth, and that good government in our cities tends mightily to promote it.”
We greatly doubt this alleged forgetfulness on the part of “many Christians,” because we doubt whether they ever learned the doctrines in question. Certainly they never learned them from the authoritative source of Christian knowledge—the Word of God.
From that Word we learn that the kingdom of God is even now on the earth, but that it is a spiritual kingdom, one that “cometh not with observation,” as do  the political kingdoms of earth. An attempt to set up the kingdom of God by earthly agencies, like “good government,” is an attempt to make the kingdom of God come with “observation,” or outward show, like an earthly kingdom, contrary to this declaration of the Scripture.
“The kingdom of God is within you,” said Jesus to his disciples. Luke 17:20, 21. The body of the believer is the temple of God; his heart is the throne of God. In him and through him is done the will of God, and only where the will of God is done—only where God reigns—does the kingdom of God exist. The kingdom of God is not yet a visible kingdom on the earth because no where on the earth, save in the lives of the scattered believers, is the will of God done. The visible separation between the few who do his will and the many who resist his will, is not yet made, and must be made before the kingdom of God can be manifested as a visible kingdom of power and glory, as it is finally to be in the earth.
Now how can an individual “promote” the kingdom of God by being a “good citizen”? In other words—for this is what is meant by “good citizen”—how can he promote the kingdom of God by taking an active part in politics? Is the kingdom of God to be set up on the earth by a vote? No person who affirms this can have read Scripture to any purpose.
No theme is more prominent in the sacred Word than that of the coming of Jesus Christ, as a king, visibly, with power and “great glory,” attended by the angels of heaven, to the earth, in the sight of all the nations. This is to be the end of the world. And what have “good government” and the ballot to do with this?
In one of his parables—that of the sower—the Saviour describes the process by which the kingdom of God is to be truly promoted in the earth. He declares that the preaching of the Word is the sowing of the seed mentioned in the parable, some of which falls upon poor ground and is lost, while other falls upon good ground, where it springs up and bears fruit, which is for the kingdom of God. What have voting in politics to do with this? In another parable Jesus said that with the good seed that is sown, the enemy of all goodness sows “tares,” which spring up and grow together with the wheat, until the harvest, of which he says, “The harvest is the end of the world.” He says that when the harvest is come, “the Son man shall send forth his angels,” and they “shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them that do iniquity,” to burn them up.
This is the way God is appointed to purify society and set up his kingdom visibly in the earth, and in it there is no suggestion of any political agency. The work is done now by the sowing of the seed—the preaching of the Word—which springs up and bears fruit in the heart that is sanctified by faith; and finally, when all is ripe for the harvest, God himself will separate the tares from the wheat—the wicked from the just—by the agencies of heaven; and that separation will last forever. The wicked will be no more, and the meek will inherit the earth; but the man who has been looking to politics and “good government” to see the kingdom of God come forth and be set up in the earth, will find that he has looked in altogether the wrong direction. The greatest event of earthly history will take him by surprise, and he will fall before it.
To the Christian, the voice of duty calls to activity in sowing the good seed of the divine Word, from which is to come the grain from the heavenly garner. This, to the Christian, is all-important, and without it he would not be doing the best that he knows. And if this is incompatible with good citizenship, he must be content to be called a poor citizen. But the greatest need of the world to-day, as always, is the need of good men; and if “good citizens” are a different class from good men, the country’s need of “good citizenship” has been vastly overstated. The Christian must first and before all things be a Christian; and if Christianity be true he is doing in this way the utmost that any man can do for the establishment of that good government for which the earth has groaned since time began.