Nonresistance isn’t silent

Peace principles guide speaking truth in love

Jul 16, 2018 by

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How much should nonresistant Christians talk publicly about the political concerns of their earthly societies?

Many Anabaptists recognize nonresistance as encompassing more than refusing to use lethal force against another human being. They believe it extends to refusing to engage in any activity they consider coercive, including lawsuits (which may be financially punitive) or voting for elected officials (an exercise of political power or influence).

Some take this a step further, admonishing fellow Anabaptists not to concern themselves with the affairs of politics nor criticize the actions of public officials. After all, the Apostle Paul writes: “For what have I to do with judging those outside [the church]?” (1 Cor. 5:12).

Paul did not have the political rights we have. Yet the idea of speaking truth to power was not foreign to him. While respecting those whose faith leads them to avoid political issues, we believe public statements about social concerns are consistent with Christian nonresistance.

Peacemaking Christians can use the principles of biblical nonresistance to guide their political speech and action in several ways.

  • Begin with prayer. Our most natural response to the human suffering around us should be to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance for how we should respond.
  • Work or support others’ work, taking the role of a servant. The work of the churches caring for migrants is one of thousands of examples of service opportunities. Guidance we receive through prayer helps direct us toward causes we can support.
  • Speak truth in love. Since “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20), our conversations and social media posts should avoid obsessing over the faults or virtues of people in office. Yet there is a place for Christians to make respectful but firm statements of concern for people adversely affected by certain policies.

Though we may not agree on solutions to the pain in our society, we all should be able to articulate nonpartisan, consistently pro-life compassion for victims of violence, injustice, poverty, sickness and disaster. Public statements are part of our collective witness, letting the world know that Jesus-followers share God’s concern, expressed throughout Scripture, for the vulnerable.

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