Australia is on fire, and the Greens are to blame, or maybe Scott Morrison is. Trump ordered an assassination on the Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani which, as Iran promises, guarantees severe consequences and international backlash. Climate change, LGBTQI, international trade and globalisation, human rights. The world is in rapid flux. Peace one day, on fire the next. Politics are unavoidable.
I never thought I’d admit it but to be Christian is to be inescapably political. Here’s why:
- Christians live in a kingdom with a king who rules over every other system of government and power (Psalm 2, Daniel 2:21, Matthew 28:18, Revelation 1:4-5).
- Christians, therefore, are inherently monarchists who bow the knee to King Jesus. This is a political stance. We’re saying every other government is on borrowed power and time from a higher power which reigns over them eternally.
- Therefore, whenever we vote for a leader or a policy, we do it with Jesus in mind. We must ask ourselves if what it is we’re voting for is aligned with God’s kingdom revealed in His Word (Matthew 5-7 is a great place to start).
- Whenever we do vote, whenever we get involved in politics, as citizens of God’s kingdom, we are declaring something about who God is. If we vote for climate change policies, we are saying God cares about the environment. If we vote against abortion, we’re declaring that God cares about all life. If we vote for religious freedom, we’re showing that God, at least in this age, gives everyone the freedom to decide who they will worship.
In the ever-intensifying geopolitical climate that we all live in, we must prepare ourselves for what is to come. Politics is unavoidable, and because of the Gospel we preach, and the King that we worship we’re already involved in politics anyway. Let’s hold up a minute. Before we go gate crashing the government and rioting for change, Christian, change happens first within the Church itself. If you haven’t already go and read Awaiting the King by James K. A. Smith, one of the best books I read last year among others. In it, Smith argues that
- Being political is actually worship
- Worship is actually political
- That influencing the political world happens first in and through the Church.
- When we do inevitably engage in the political sphere, do so with hopeful reservation.
Which begs the question, what is worship? Singing? Yes. Reading the Bible? Yes. Prayer? Yes, though worship is more. Worship is loving one another as yourself. It’s actually everything you do every day for the rest of your life to the glory of God. Why? Because as a Christian, you are in Christ, the temple, the place where worship happens, where communion between God and His people meet. You cannot escape worship, and you cannot escape than being political because we don’t worship only God but a King of Kings and a Lord of Lords. So here are my easy steps to being a healthy political Christian in 2020:
- Go to a sacramental centred church. As Smith argues, it is through the liturgical means of the church that the people of God are transformed. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper demonstrate the Gospel, and the Word proclaims it (these are the three sacraments given to the church by Christ).
- As the Word transforms, as the Supper of the Lord’s death seeps into your soul and Baptism brings you life, love one another fiercely, so that the rest of the world looks on with jealousy and awe. This means that you need to meet other’s needs. Meet them in brokenness, forgive them when they sin against you.
- Go out and proclaim the Gospel, which is the power of God to save. Before any political reform happens, hearts need to be changed, and only God can do that through the Good News proclaimed by the Church.
- Engage in the public sphere with a now but not yet mentality. What we do and vote for matters in eternity, however, remember that Jesus is still to return and make all things new at His second coming.
This 2020 be wise in your engagement in the political sphere. Love, worship and rest knowing Jesus reigns and the world is indeed running on fumes.
The call to follow Christ, the call to desire his kingdom, does not simplify our lives by segregating us in some “pure” space; to the contrary, the call to bear Christ’s image complicates our lives because it comes to us in the midst of our environments without releasing us from them. – James K. A. Smith