Saturday, October 29, 2011

Election 2011: 2) How Can Christians Be Involved in Politics?

In the last blog post I suggested that Christianity is at its essence, in a sense, political.

Life is political in fact, with someone having to run the show across its every part, families, schools, communities, social groups, sports clubs, local governments, churches, cities, nations and international politics. Christianity imagines 'political' rule in all these contexts as being about leaders who take people with them with processes that are collaborative, participative, egalitarian, with decisions made that accord with the values of God seen in the gospel.

So, we are to be 'political' first in those parts of the world we find ourselves having a leadership role. Husbands and wives are to lead well in partnership, mutual service and collaborative decision making. While some define these leadership roles on the basis of gender with the man as the leader, I am not of that view. I think each home should be run based on the call and gifts of the marriage partners. This has to be worked out together in love.

Outside of the home, the level of a Christian involvement will depend on their call and gift. Some will be motivated and given opportunity to participate in the leadership structures of social contexts like clubs, businesses, schools, governmental departments and the government itself. Some will not have leadership positions, and the Scriptures are quite clear—short of violating the command of the ultimate Lord, we are to be subject to the authorities under whom we are placed. This is a recognition of God's providence in the structures of the world, and also to model God's way to the world.

Where we find ourselves in a position of leadership at any level we are to do so God's way—humility, partnership, compassion, justice, goodness, etc; renunciation of personal ambition at another's expense, one-upmanship, violence, coercion, manipulation, deceit etc. We can seek to persuade and influence and with passion, but not using power to force situations. We are to allow God to raise us up rather than force the issue too. Christians do not go seeking power, they allow God to raise them to it. Conversely, they are not to be afraid of it either and back off—we are to humbly take up the opportunities if they come. We are to lead positively, patiently and humbly, and not force our desires on others.

Where politics at the highest level is concerned, Christians can be as involved as anyone, as led, gifted and inspired by God's Spirit. If so, we need to really know our stuff not only the Christian gospel and its implications and limits, not only to be Spirit-led people, but to learn the art of politics by being the most informed of people in terms of the things of the world like political systems, economics, justice, etc. This applies in every sphere of course i.e. we need to be best we can be and deserve leadership in our own right, not just because we are Christians.

One of the cool things about our political system is that we can all be involved. This is in fact the result of the blend of Greek democracy and Judeo-Christian egalitarianism which has developed over the centuries—for which we can be truly thankful. It is sure better than an Iraq under Hussein, a Libya under Gadhafi, a Zimbabwe, nations under despotic corrupt rule. Every Christian should vote, take their place in the system. We should be prayerful and very thoughtful. We should think about how we vote, what principles we should employ as we come to vote. For example, do we vote on social justice i.e. which political party will care for the marginalised best? Or should we vote on a moral issue like abortion? Or should we vote for the party that has the best looking leader? Etc. We should think about the gospel and what God would want us to vote on. We should watch, read and listen to understand what the policies of the parties are and think. We should get to know the local candidates and think which one will represent us best. Voting is not easy, but we should take it seriously. It is not enough to stab in the dark on election day.

We can also join parties. If we hold strong convictions and feel led by God, we can join a party and influence at the level of the selection of candidates and formation of policy. We can pressure politicians through writing to them and seek to challenge them and influence them in a particular direction. If we do, we need to do it in Christ's way. We can protest when the cause is worthy. We can be very politically active should of using coercion, corruption and violent force. And this can work at any level of life—where two or three are gathered, there is power, there is politics. We can get involved and move through a party and become a politician—as led and given opportunity by God. Wherever we are, at whatever level, we are to serve—this is essential to being Christian. After all, if Jesus King of the world came to serve and not be served, that is good enough for us.

So, as we come to the election, we need to pray and think. Who will lead us best in accordance with the values of the Kingdom? Which party? What policies? We can't assume because a person is a Christian they will do a better job, they may not have the skills and wisdom required. So, this election, make sure you do you homework and work for NZ to be an even greater country—go the All Blacks (couldn't help myself).



JR Rankin said...

Awesome post! Thank you. It is encouraging to get involved rather than be a detached observer. I like what you say about being raised up by God to influence through humility, something I forget all too often in this competitive environment of performance.

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