16 Jun A Christian’s Place in Politics
We are just coming out of election season, a time notorious for anger, disenchantment, or passive resignation, depending on your views.
Often times we as Christians are perplexed when it comes to engaging culture through politics; separation of church and state, choosing the lesser of two evils, general lack of knowledge or interest on issues are all significant road blocks to our entry into the political sphere. When we do engage it, it is often a reaction of fear, anger, and dismay at the current degeneration of society.
For years I found myself cynical, disenchanted, and frustrated by all parties involved – friends on all sides of issues spouting ideological dogma, politicians falling short, or worse, ignoring their commitments all together. It seemed to me the best way to “fight” was outside the political sphere – best to spare myself and others the blood bath inevitably following a foray into politics.
My mind began to change, however, after reading a biography of William Wilberforce and studying the American and British abolition movements. For Wilberforce and other abolitionists, the courage of conviction began in their understanding of who God is and their understanding of man as an image bearer of God. Yet, these convictions were so great as to be worked out in every sphere of life – including political. For abolitionists, the political sphere was a public opportunity to reach large masses with revolutionary ideas, but it was not confined to politics (or slavery).
Women’s rights, the rights of the poor, suffrage of all, caring for orphans and vulnerable children were all of deep concern to abolitionists; they not only fought for political rights, but also lived with compassion and showed mercy in their daily lives. For abolitionists, if Jesus was Lord of their life then He was Lord over all of life, politics included.
Learning from these men and women has forced me to reconsider my own passive resignation – perhaps there is room for both the church and state in my life. At the least, I have found new conviction to use every available resource to fight for truth, justice, love, and mercy. In choosing to not abdicate from the political sphere, I knowingly walk into frustration, misunderstanding, and disappointment. Fortunately, we have the example of Wilberforce, who waited and fought his entire adult life to end slavery in Britain; victory narrowing succumbing to defeat on more than one painstaking occasion. My hope is we, as Christians and Grace Church, emulate Wilberforce who never wavered in his conviction or pursuit, but worked tirelessly within his cultural framework to affect change – one person, one city, and one nation at a time.
If women, African-Americans, children in foster care, and the poor are all created in the image of God then so is my friend on Facebook passionately declaring his views in direct contrast to mine, and the politician who sold-out. If Jesus is Lord of my life then He is Lord over all of life, political conversations included.
– Taylor Beard