It’s been a while. Lately, one of the things I have been thinking about is how we engage with the State as Christians. This is partly because I cannot get rid of the Mennonite in me, and partly because we’ve just been through an election here in Ontario.
One of the questions that has been ruminating is the following: Is the Church at all responsible to and for the larger political structures that govern us? Or, stated differently, is there room for the Church to have any other room in the political spectrum than to be the Church? I’m not sure whether these “either/or” statements I’ve made are as black and white as I put them down there. But nevertheless, this is a tough question for me. And I have landed on this: I do think that by being the Church, we have certain responsibilities of witnessing to the State. How far this witness goes is something I am still thinking about. But for now I think I am staying with this: It is the Church’s responsibilities that in fact Jesus if Lord, and the State as such, can only exercise limited authority through the Lordship of Christ.
That has stirred several other thoughts in my head, more specifically regarding the elections we have just endured here in Ontario.
1. If our witness is that Jesus is Lord, should part of our calling to attention in the political process also include the way our politicians speak about their opponents? This last election was nasty, full of rhetoric, political grandstanding and making caricatures out of the other candidates. What does our witness look like in this? Do we call our politicians to account on this? Does our voting reflect these realities? Or on the other hand, do we say that this is part of the political process? Because if we do, aren’t we saying that there are parts of the political process that should not be under the Lordship of Christ. How can a church that preaches, practices and is based upon love condone villainizing, lying and backstabbing? And following from that, is there a greater responsibility for those politicians who claim a faith in Jesus to not be part of these practices?
2. Following from that first point then, do we have a responsibility to claim Jesus’s Lordship over what we believe, how we gather information and how we share that information onward? I wonder whether in letting Jesus take over that also means that seek our information not only from sources that agree most with us, but try to gather a wide variety of opinions. And when media participates in the larger tactics of the politicians vying for our favor, are we not also responsible to call those practices into attention. Following from that, what do we then share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc? Do we seek to uphold Jesus commitment of praying for our enemies, loving those who hate us, turning the other cheek, etc., in the things we read and repost.
3. Lastly, how do we carry our conversations around politics with friends, co-workers and fellow Christians? I personally admit to not sharing much about my own personal political leanings because I have realized that I cannot often talk about it without making a conversation partner into an enemy. Disagreement from others turns into disappointment for me and from there we move into nastier territories of judgment, questioning of their faith, etc. Clearly, in my own life, I sometimes refuse to let Jesus be Lord over these things. So how do we talk about it then? How do make sure that not a certain political party is our Ultimate, but that God is? How do we move away from idolizing certain politicians to praying, witnessing and continually reminding ever party, every politician and everyone who courts our vote that in fact Jesus is Lord