The story of William Wilberforce who fought so many years for the abolishing of slavery in the British empire, with the push and support of Quakers for so many of us is inspiring. This is a case of an evangelical Christian who devoted to his life to this one political end, and through that sacrifice, in the end, prevailed. There are so many stories which seem less than noble. But even those which involve so much that is unseemly in politics, can have consequences for good in needed change, even if inevitably falling short of all the change that’s needed. The greatest United States president I think, and a great man, Abraham Lincoln, and one hundred years later another president, Lyndon Baines Johnson (I remember him, being a boy at the time) under the influence of Martin Luther King, Jr, and the Civil Rights movement of the time are examples where great change took place. In the inevitable dirt and grime of a politics in which all kinds of give and take are part of the play, part and parcel of the work.
Fastforward to the present. More great concerns: the plight of the unborn, affordable health care for all, and the growing disparity in wages between the rich and the poor, not to mention the affordability of simply living for the latter, the plight of immigrants uprooted from war torn countries, climate change. These are a few of the great concerns on the table today. And it is easy for anyone, Christians included, to get caught up in this so that a majority of free time, however one might define that, is given to such. And make no mistake about it, this is important.
The question can become something like this: Just what are we invested in as followers of Jesus? For those who are engaged in American politics, whatever level that may be, they need to be sure as to exactly why they’re in it. And they need plenty of prayer, which scripture calls for us to be doing for all those in authority.
I believe that the one politic that we in Jesus should live and die for is that of the grace and kingdom of God come in King Jesus and lived out through the sacramental and common life in the church. The church’s mission is to live in and as such, be a witness to that good news in Jesus which includes every realm, certainly including the political. We are to be a witness by how we live together, how we take care of each other–especially those of us in need, the difference that God’s grace and kingdom in King Jesus makes. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe, and it is the ultimate answer to all the world’s woes, and we’re to live it out now, as it is taking root in the world, and beginning to flourish, someday to cover the whole world in the renewed earth.
What are we as followers of Jesus, as his church- invested in? Is it to some political candidate, or party? What if instead of them using us, somehow we might use them to help needed change come? Or better yet, what if our lives and good works were such a contrast to what is going on, that people would begin to take note and see the good and then want and advocate that for society at large? Wouldn’t that be so much better than getting into, and even paying attention to the mess of the politics of this world?
As an American citizen, I’ll try to feel something of the pulse of what’s going on here and in the world. But of necessity, I want to draw lines, so that the one politic which has my life is front and center. Realizing when everything else comes and goes, this will remain. In and through Jesus.