Politics and Religion
Have you ever heard it said that politics and religion should not mix? I wonder if this is something that you prescribe to in your life? Similarly it is also supposedly impolite to discuss religion or politics at social engagements. How do we feel about that as christians. Albert Einstein is credited with saying that those who think religion and politics should not mix, understand neither.
This week as I write these reflections, I would like us to think broadly about what this means, and what it means to be a follower of Christ in our pandemic-stricken, politically-tense world of today.
For a long time, when I heard the word politics, my heart would sink. It has been easy to lose heart amidst conflicting messages in the media, where working out what to believe and who to trust is commonplace, and politicians in Westminster seem far removed from the day to day running of our lives. But we are all political beings, each one of us is created to make decisions and consider how best to organise our lives. Human flourishing depends on the organisation of our common goods. Politics ranges from small to big, personal to international, social to business and I would argue is utterly entwined with our humanity. Politics is not restricted to the elite and the formal; we have a say in shaping the community to which we belong. God has created us to be political beings. Just as we are created as physical and spiritual beings; politics is part of our identity. We are created to be social, to interact with each other and work together. Our apparent ambivalence on politics or disengagement does not change this.
Jesus was incredibly concerned with the politics. He did not shy away from big issues; he issued direct challenges to rulers and spoke truth about their unjust practices. His crucifixion was ultimately political, his power posed a threat to ‘keeping the peace’, and his declaration of the reign of God had profound political implications which unsettled many in power. So many of his teachings are centred around how we should order our lives to mirror the Kingdom of God, what we should do with power and how we should respond to the oppressed.
As Christians, we can look at the politics in the world around us through the lens of our faith.
The biblical themes of justice and reconciliation can inspire us as to how to respond to our world.
As we face the prospect of tougher social restrictions, can we reflect on how as Christians we can bring Jesus into these situations. Conversations will inevitably turn to opinions on how decisions are made in this pandemic, what would it look like for us to be the light in the darkness of those conversations? As we start to connect the global challenges with our faith, it is a great opportunity to spend some time listening to God and asking what He wants us to see.
How is God speaking to you today? Where are there issues of injustice in our world that God might be highlighting to you today? How might we begin to respond.
John 12v28 might be a verse to contemplate as we begin to listen to God.