apolitically political

August 25, 2005

This is as close to a political post as I’ve ever gotten. It is definitely not the first in a series, so don’t come looking for a sequel. I don’t post about politics, because I am forever wrestling with what the mix of church and politics should look like. But this might be a good start…

A few weeks ago, in our home gathering, we were talking about our church’s value statements. One of the things we wrestled with was how could we care about social justice issues. Often these issues are considered to be political in nature — or at least these are issues that many typically think are best dealt with through politics. The question was raised — how can we care about social justice issues without becoming a political church?

Pat RobertsonTo press it a bit further, should the church even deal with social issues and justice, or should those best be left to politics? There is a something ugly that seems to happen when politics and religion mix as Pat Robertson has proven this week.

Perhaps the church must find a way to be apolitically political. We have to care about these issues. They matter to Jesus, and they matter to the church. But is there a way that they can be dealt with which transcends politics?

NT Wright provided a fascinating thought this week in a message I was listening to. (The transcript of that message is here.) He commented on the trial of Jesus before Pilate in John 18:28-40. Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?”

Certainly Jesus has an answer to that question. It was only a few chapters earlier in John 14:6 that Jesus claimed the HE is the truth. Wright suggests that Jesus remained silent because Pilate would not be able to accept the answer. The work of Jesus is far greater than the politics of Pilate can understand. However, Jesus goes on to demonstrate his answer by his death and resurrection.

Can this be a model for the church today?
Can we interact not by getting mixed up in politics, but by transcending them?
Can we deal with issues of justice better than politics can, without getting stuck in the muck and mire of politics?

Mere DiscipleshipI think it we have to. I think it is our call. If the church believes that following Jesus is the best way, then it must be able to demonstrate that it has the best response to the injustice in our world. We simply must do the dirty work of sorting though what that response can and should look like.

I leave this with one example of what it might look like. This is a quote in Mere Discipleship (pg 45) from a pastor’s sermon in Colorado Springs a number of years ago:

What if there were abortion clinics but nobody went in? What if abortion was a legal choice, but it was a choice nobody took? Changes in the law, blocking abortion clinics, demaning name-calling will not stop abortions. They history of the church through the ages has been the history of changes brought about in society through the church demonstrating and living an alternative vision of life. We need to stop telling our nonbelieving neighbors how wrong their way of life is, and we need to start showing the power of the gospel in the way we live … Let me ask you: Which has greater power? Ten thousand people who fill the streets in front of abortion clinics and shame those seeking abortions, or then thousand people in California who take to the state capital a petition they have signed stating they will take any unwanted child of any age, any color, any physical condition so that they can love that child in the name of Jesus Christ?

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