I have been privileged over the years to know several Christians in political leadership, both as their pastor and as their friend. One of the frequent concerns I have heard them express is the common misperception that Christians have done all they need to do if they elect Christians to office.

The fact is, voting is vital, but it is just the beginning of our biblical responsibility with regard to politics.

It is true that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), but it is also true that we are to be good stewards of our time on earth. The Lord told his exiled people in Babylon:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare(Jeremiah 29:5–7).

As the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13–14), the flourishing of our world is, in part, our responsibility. If I have the only light in a dark room, its darkness is my fault. Caring for our culture and engaging in its political processes is part of good citizenship for God’s people.

To that end, consider four practical imperatives for Christians.

1. Vote

As we have seen, voting is an essential responsibility for all Americans and for all Christians.

We should learn all we can about the candidates and their positions, especially in the context of biblical principles. We should ask God to guide us in casting our ballots.

The Voting Assistance Center at MyFaithVotes.org offers a wealth of helpful resources to this end, covering federal, state, and local candidates.

And we should encourage everyone we can to vote as well.

Are you asking God to prepare you to vote this fall?

2. Engage with legislators

One of the values of representative democracy is the degree to which our leaders are responsible to those who elect them. Several political leaders have shared with me the fact that even a few citizens who make their views known on pending legislation can make an enormous difference.

You can contact your congressional representatives (it is best to speak to them or their aides personally rather than sending emails or leaving voice mails that can be ignored). You can go to meetings organized by leaders in your community. You can organize groups to speak with your representatives about issues important to you.

And you can volunteer for candidates and causes. You can knock on doors, make fundraising calls, and organize voter-registration drives. (For more, see “How to Participate in Politics”.)

Are you asking God to show you if and how he wants you to be involved personally in our political process?

3. Serve in public office

As we have seen, God calls men and women into political service and uses their work for his glory and our good.

I am convinced, in fact, that God is calling more Christians into public service today than are answering his call.

Have you asked God if he is calling you into such service?

4. Intercede

Paul’s word to Timothy is God’s word to us: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1–2).

We are to pray for our leaders whether we agree with them or not; in fact, the less we agree, the more we should intercede. We should pray not just for the president and national leaders but for state and local leaders as well.

Do you know the names of your city council? Are you praying for them and for your mayor? For your governor and state officials? For the president and his cabinet?

George Washington stated in his Farewell Address, “The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained.”

What if the spiritual future of our country depended upon the degree to which God’s people incarnate and advance “the eternal rules of order and right” in our day?

It does.

If you enjoyed this blog, click here to read Dr. Jim Denison’s full white paper: What does the Bible say about politics?: A cultural analysis and biblical response.