“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8, 10)
I read these verses of Paul to someone this morning and, later in the afternoon, ‘just happened’ (Ruth 2:3) to come across an article by the late JI Packer entitled ‘How to Recognise a Christian Citizen’. It’s a brilliant exposition of a Christian’s responsibility in the complex area of politics. The article was first printed in Christianity Today back in 1985, but is part of the collection in the book ‘Pointing to the Pasturelands’ (2021). Packer quotes Frederick Catherwood:
“To try to improve society is not worldliness but love. To wash one’s hands of society is not love but worldliness.” (Frederick Catherwood).
He then closes his essay with this quote from Catherwood’s book The Christian Citizen:
“We must be humble and not opinionated. We must be prepared to find that we are sometimes quite wrong and be able to admit it. We serve our fellow-men because of our love for a Lord who gave his life for us, a debt which, however well we serve, we can never repay. So whatever we do, we do it from a sense of duty and because it is right. We do not, like the cults, claim instant satisfaction. We do not, like the salesmen, guarantee success. The Christian’s time-span is not mortal. One sows and another reaps. One labors and another enters into his labors. One day with God is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Christian knows the meaning of patience and endurance. But he also knows the meaning of action.”
Packer concludes: ‘This is the right formula for Christian politics, just because it is the right formula for every single part of the Christian life.’