Prophetic Politics

Over and over, when I ask God why all of these injustices are allowed to exist in the world, I can feel the Spirit whisper to me, "You tell me why we allow this to happen. You are my body, my hands, my feet."
Shane Claiborne

Each November, I am reminded of the privilege we have in democracy, to choose candidates who lead our government, and to weigh in on local and state policies.  It is truly a privilege because there are many places in the world, where the people being governed have virtually no influence or voice in the process.

Every year, I am asked as a pastor, what should be the Christian's role in the politics.  Typically, its usually a veiled request to find out where I stand on a particular issue.  Yet, I do think its a fair question to ask and a worthy question to consider.  In the secularized society, where one's faith is reduced to smaller and smaller sphere's of influence, there is a tendency to separate one's faith and one's politics.  We end up developing a "private faith" that is separate from our "public policy".  Often these private faiths are antagonistic to our public policy.  The result is impotent faith and an immoral public policy. 

Here are a couple of principles to reflect upon regarding the politics of followers of Jesus:

1. Jesus led a prophetic faith:  Miroslav Volf at the Yale center for faith and culture, describes a prophetic faith as a faith in which the adherent experiences God, then undergoes transformation for the purposes of transforming his world.  The end result of prophetic faith is not union with God, but union with God for the betterment of the world.  Prophetic faith is a public faith that is focusing on human flourishing. 

2. The faith of the early church always advocated for the poor and marginalized.   The first century church took seriously the mission of Jesus to the poor, helpless, and hopeless.  Today, followers of Jesus are to be the advocates of the poor and marginalized.  Not just the Christian poor and marginalized, but all poor and marginalized.  We are not afforded the luxury of evaluating which poor or if they are poor due to poor decisions versus environmental concerns.  No, Christians are to advocate for the poor.  Every poltical decision must be understood from its impact on the poor.  Jesus pushes his followers to identify with the poor when he said, "whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done unto me".

3. God is concerned about justice.  Not just retributive justice (penalties for crimes), but distributive justice (making sure everyone has access to the basic things for thriving) and restorative justice (making amends for previous injustices).  These things are often neglected in societies where capitalism has become sacred.  Its the position of believers to be agents of justice of all types.  Not taking justice into our own hands, but advocating for just laws, opportunities, and systems.

4. The Church is to demonstrate what it advocates.  The Church is to be a sign and a witness to the tangible love of God.  How can the Church be an advocate of love and justice to a wounded world if it does not practice it.  The answer is that the credibility of the church is directly related to its ability to provide an alternative vision, not in creeds and doctrine, but in reality of its lives and practices.

The follower of Jesus is to participate in politics by advocating for the things that Jesus advocated.  As Shane Claiborne, stated above, if we are the hands and feet of Christ, we have an obligation not to advocate for  your own agenda, but for agenda set by Jesus.  It is then, that Jesus is truly Lord, and not guide or teacher.

I pray that today, you will make decisions that will lead to justice, empowering of the weak, inclusion of the marginalized, and give hope to the hopeless.  Such is our privilge.

Pastor M Traylor