Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Church: Political? Apolitical? Both?

This election cycle has made me think a lot about the church's role (and the individual believer's role) in politics. In certain churches and Christian circles, it appears to be a given which political party is to be supported. More and more I have struggled with this dynamic, feeling a deep sense of dissatisfaction with both parties. And I have more and more come to a disagreement with the idea that one political party is good and the other is bad. Both parties are based on worldly wisdom and worldly kingdoms. This doesn't mean that they are both all-bad, but simply that they are not based on the agenda of Jesus Christ.
So, does this mean that Christians, and the church, should have no involvement in politics? I really reject that idea also. While politics is often the turf of power-battles and compromise, it is also the turf of William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr., and many other champions of justice. In some ways it seems to me that the church should be very interested in politics. Here are some growing convictions, however, that I have been having:

1. Supporting a political figure can subtly translate into idolatry. This is not always the case, but it should be a caution for us. No person is the answer to the problems of our country or our world? Not Obama. Not McCain. Not anyone. When we as Christians get bumper stickers of candidates and go to rallies where we chant their name, we must be very, very careful. Jesus will bring in the new world. it won't be done by anyone else, and no one else deserves our hope or support in any way that approaches our loyalty and devotion to Jesus Christ.

2. There can be different approaches to an agreed-upon problem. And when this happens, Christians should not battle one another or mud-sling. One person may feel that the solution to poverty issues is to expand government programs. Another may feel that the solution to poverty issues is to reduce government involvement in our lives. But both can move forward with a heart for the poor. This does not mean that the debate over the issues does not matter. It just means that neither is going to be an ultimate solution, and so we can trust one another's motives, even if we disagree on issues like health care, immigration, education, and many others.

And, most importantly. . .
3. The Church can do more to solve the problems in our country and our world than any politician, party, or policy. I believe this with all my heart. Poverty? Let's care for the homeless and the working poor through relief, giving, relationships, and housing. Health care? Let's provide medical support for those who need it (case in point, Bob Sayson and the Good News Clinic). Abortion? Let's continue to provide alternatives, education, and support for those who are in crisis pregnancies. And, apart from all of these issues that are normally wrapped up in politics, we are offering the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ to all with whom we come into contact. We are inviting people into relationship with the God of the universe and with His covenant community. That is something that no politician, party, or policy can offer.

I guess my last thought is this (and all of these thoughts are certainly in process): The more important thing is not for the church to decide where she stands when it comes to the political questions of our country and world. The more important thing is for us to move forward on the issues that Jesus has called us to. We are on a different track, working with different goals, and using different terms. The kingdom of Christ is not parallel to the kingdoms of this world. The kingdom of Christ, along wih His church, demands our ultimate allegiance. It should be His name that we bear on our hearts, on our cars, on our shirts.

It should be His name that we should be chanting.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jack's Progress

Here is a fun video of Jack's progress with walking.