In thinking about the political fervor that has been whipped up around the country recently, I have been encouraged and refreshed reading James Hunter’s book, To Change the World. I should mention at the outset that in this blog, as a minister of the Gospel, I do not intend EVER to take a partisan position on the current state of political affairs. My personal vote (a notion instilled in me by my parents) is between me and the Lord and no one else. Instead, my intention is purely to provoke spiritual and Godly thought about given issues, in the hopes that I as well as the church would think reflectively about how we mobilize to faithful, daily action.
I found this quote resonated with me particularly, especially as I think pastorally for my own heart and my church.
A final irony has to do with the ideal of political responsibility. Christians are urged to vote and become involved in politics as an expression of their civic duty and public responsibility. This is a credible argument and good advice up to a point. Yet in our day, given the size of the state and the expectations that people place on it to solve so many problems, politics can also be a way of saying, in effect, that the problems should be solved by others besides myself and by institutions other than the church. It is, after all, much easier to vote for a politician who champions child welfare than to adopt a baby born in poverty, to vote for a referendum that would expand health care benefits for seniors than to care for an elderly and infirmed parent, and to rally for racial harmony than to get to know someone of a different race than yours. True responsibility invariably costs. Political participation, then, can and often does amount to an avoidance of responsibility.
(James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, pp. 172-173)
I will try to post more on this in the coming weeks and months as I reflect, along with Dr. Hunter, what a ministry of faithful presence looks like in real, honest to goodness life, versus simply in the realm of the theoretical or academic.