political (un)involvement

Politic3.jpgI had a talk the other day with our friends Aaron and Amy about politics and faith. “Steve probably took the radical leftist viewpoint,” you’re thinking. (I know, I know — I have in the past been guilty of being over-passionate about my viewpoint in political discussions).

But on Sunday, I took a different route. You see, we were discussing Christianity and political involvement, specifically as it pertains to advocating for the oppressed and downtrodden in our world. Even a few months ago, I might have followed Jim Wallis and the Sojo crew to the steps of the Capitol Building to lobby for a “moral budget.” Wallis was at the center of our discussion, as I told our friends that I’m not sure the answer to a “radical right” Christianity is a “radical left” Christianity. In other words, I said, I’m not sure Jim Wallis is good for the current political dialogue.

Aaron agreed with me to a point, but still holds that Christians have a responsibility to participate in the political process and even to take grievances to the appropriate representatives. (Note: Aaron is at Harvard’s Kennedy School earning his degree in public policy) Like I said, a few months ago, this would have been my stance. But I am becoming more and more non-participatory in my political leanings. Idealogically, I probably identify more with traditionally Democratic viewpoints, but as I gain a clearer understanding of life in the kingdom of God, the kingdoms of this Earth seem to fade just a bit. I’m beginning to identify more and more with the views of my Church of Christ forefather David Lipscomb, who purposefully abstained from any political involvement (beyond paying taxes) and was a staunch pacifist. I don’t think Lipscomb held these views because he was sowing his wild oats or was mad at America or was differentiating himself from the Methodists. I’m convinced that Lipscomb, like many others throughout Christian history, recognized that when one chooses the way of Christ, they have a different king and belong to a different kingdom.

I’m not saying Christians should never petition their governments on behalf of the poor and oppressed. Clearly, there are times when this is unavoidable and a moral obligation. But to rely on political action for social change — as I fear Wallis and others have — seems to minimize the Christian’s identity in this “new world order” of the kingdom of God.

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