Many Christians are nervous about mixing their faith with politics. But Jesus calls us to shine our light and influence this world for good.
The following is an excerpt from Kurt Mahlburg and Warwick Marsh’s latest book, Jesus: The Centre of It All. Buy the book here.
How the Canberra Declaration Came About
The discovery that Jesus has shaped so much of the world we live in today has altered the course of both of our lives. In fact, when we first met each other at a conference in 2018, I (Kurt) shared with Warwick my vision for a book on this very subject. As God would have it, several months later, Warwick offered me a job—and along with it, much help and inspiration to complete that project. Released in 2020, Cross and Culture: Can Jesus Save the West? recounts how profoundly Jesus has influenced the Western world, warns of the danger our societies face when we abandon Him and provides a hopeful roadmap for how we can find our way again. It was the first of many passion projects the two of us have worked on together over the years.
Being a generation or two older than Kurt, I (Warwick) made the discovery about Jesus’ impact on our world many years earlier than he did. It has inspired much of my ministry over the decades, including my role in the drafting of the Canberra Declaration, which is a clarion call for Australia to return to its rich Christian heritage. What began as an 850-word document eventually grew into its own ministry by the same name. The job I offered Kurt was at the Canberra Declaration, where we still work together with a wonderful staff team, striving for the renewal of Christian values in Australia.
Edwards and Wilberforce on Christian Societies
The idea that Christians should keep their faith private might be popular today, but if followers of Jesus had applied that faulty thinking throughout history, the world would be a much darker place. Jonathan Edwards, who lived in 18th-century New England, remains one of America’s most towering philosophers and theologians. He argued that followers of Jesus should have a public faith that brings benefit to all, writing, “a man of truly Christian spirit will be earnest for the good of his country, and of the place of his residence, and will be disposed to lay himself out for its improvement”.
William Wilberforce agreed. Writing from the midst of his tireless abolition campaign, Wilberforce described in very practical terms how a Christian’s beliefs should shape the world around them:
Is it not the great end of religion, and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties?
Let Your Light Shine Before Others
American philosopher and reformer Francis Schaeffer agreed, arguing that “Christians should prepare to take the lead in giving direction to cultural change.” Edwards, Wilberforce, Schaeffer and countless others like them were merely echoing the words of Jesus, who told His followers:
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16).
Buy Jesus: The Centre of It All here.
Image via Unsplash.