Faith may be personal… but it is not private. In a Christian worldview, everything we touch and embrace is to be restored by redemptive faith and ethics for the life of the world.
In other words, there is nothing private about one’s personal faith. Whether its faith in yourself, in your politics, in your own ideology, and/or in God – your faith is inevitably public.
A number of years ago, Jim Wallis wrote this provocative book about faith and politics. One reviewer wrote:
“Jim Wallis has done something big. He has communicated a new political platform that accurately uses religion and morality for non-partisan betterment, not just to gain political advantage. He is communicating God’s politics as opposed to using God to communicate his politics and it is oh so very refreshing.
The beating drum of the book: poverty is a moral issue. This is why the religious right are “getting it wrong”, there is a disconnect between their economic policies and moral position. Near the end of the book Wallis discusses the Enron scandal through a Biblical lens which makes for interesting, albeit explosive, talk for the dinner table. Asserting that America has strayed away from God’s ideas of equality and rewards, Wallis points out that no matter the quality of their actions, the rich are getting richer and the laborer more destitute…
But at least the Right made the attempt and has reaped the benefits, regardless of whether they should have. The Left, on the other had, “doesn’t get it” at all as shying away from “God talk” so as to differentiate themselves from the right divorces them from a past of social movement sparked by faith and morality. Wallis concludes… that how aggressively secular the Left is leaves those who are religious progressives without a home. This brings Jim Wallis to the conclusion that God is neither a Republican nor Democrat.”
What does this have to do with the Alberta Provincial Election?
Politics across the nation has been increasingly exposed for its various degrees of greed, entitlement, and corruption. We may cynically vote, wanting no more than to change the governing party – – but don’t you want to change the way governing is done (since whomever is selected to govern becomes mired in the same corrupted paradigm of partisan politics)?!
Changing the way of governing starts with voters getting informed about the issues. So what!? You hear that every election. For persons of faith, consider this:
- get biblically informed about how faith intersects these issues.
- get prayerful (to pray without resorting to violence or apathy is an act of faith).
- get thoughtful and politically active in ways that reflects Christlikeness. Consider Jesus’ confrontation about paying taxes in Mark 12; the way He managed to keep focus despite the expectations that He, as Messiah, ought to take over by force.
Where Christians sometimes go wrong with politics:
When faith communities strongly align themselves with a particular party or wing of politics, they sometimes lose the ability to be prophetic about the profoundly non-Christian positions the party they support. Sometimes it becomes about getting control rather than living for the life of the world.
As I quoted Jeff Zdrale in Political but not Partisan (Part I),
‘You were elected… to make decisions about the ways in which government can best serve the greatest number of people for the longest period of time.’ Politicians and their supporters should remember that; it’s not about their team winning, it’s about everyone winning.
Benjamin L. Corey gets at this with some precision when he writes, “Jesus Wasn’t Concerned With “Taking The Country Back” And Neither Should We:” He may be reacting to Republican Presidential hopeful, Paul Rand’s call for action – knotted up as it is with partisan politics, and beholding to spurious supporters, as politicians tend to be.
In contradiction to Corey, I would say “Yes – Jesus was concerned with ‘taking the country back’ in the sense that He clearly stated that He “came for the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15). And, I would add, Jesus remains concerned about all things redemptive. Redemption is another way of saying – I want to take you back.
In agreement with Corey I can say, “No, Jesus neither took the nation of Israel by force then, nor does He incite us to take “our” nation back now” (I write as a Canadian, looking over the border at the American experience).
Here’s what Corey says:
Quite often I hear these words uttered by fellow Christians, seemingly petrified that their individual worlds will collapse if their particular party doesn’t get back in power…
People are always wanting their country back whether it is the power of one side or the other. Sadly, this desire to control the government is a thirst that never quenches itself – like a carbonated beverage, the more you drink the more thirsty you become, regardless of how much you’ve consumed.
I said earlier that “faith may be personal… but it is not private.” That’s because we have some responsibility to follow Christ and to pursue Christlikeness as we seek to live for the life of the world – that is – we live to bless and restore the world in which God has situated us (Jeremiah 29:7).
Tomorrow is the vote in Alberta. The day after we will very likely have a new formation of government – – but will we have a new kind of government? Whatever happens, you are not free from the sacred trust to pray for the government, and to be a prophetic voice in the public square.
Now… do your duty.