It's primary election week in Indiana, and that got me thinking about something really important about Jesus. But I realized that if I was going to talk about politics (not really, but "voting" seems political to a lot of persons) in a theology blog, I was probably going to turn a lot of persons off. A lot of readers might think, ugh...I'm gonna skip this week. And I so hope that you don't.
But in order for you to stay, I think we have to start with a conversation about why "politics" really isn't a dirty word in theology.
There are Christians who believe that they should not be involved in politics, that they should not be voting in a governmental election. Primarily, this comes from the notion that we are citizens of Heaven and we already have a King, so we don't need a bureaucracy. Basically, it's cute that the world likes to run itself this way, but we know how leadership and "government" really work and our allegiance is to Lord Jesus; thus, we separate ourselves from the state and simply do not participate in its little games.
To respond to this, we must look no further than Israel in exile. We are, after all, living an exile of our own - living enfleshed lives here, though we be citizens of Heaven. And what God says to the Israelites in Babylon in pretty clear -
Pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Go there, set up your homes, build your lives there. Become a part of the city in which the Babylonians place you and you will not only be blessed there, but you will be a blessing there.
That's different than the argument that we usually hear. Usually, it's something like this: as Christians, we must make our voices heard so that our cultures and communities will be shaped more in accordance with God's desire for communities so that we can legislate our way into righteousness and be a political people who God loves.
That's never what God says. Never. God says, be part of the place where I've put you because I will bless you there and you will be a blessing there. So our participation in the political processes of our communities is our chance to be a blessing to them. And how is that? By showing our investment in the places we live. By showing we are part of these places. By showing that we're willing to get involved and to bring what we have to offer to the table. We bless our communities by sharing our voices in them. And one way that we share our voice is to vote.
There's another argument we use to explain why we don't need to vote as Christians, why God wouldn't want us to vote, and that one is equally flimsy. We'll talk about it tomorrow, and then move onto what I've really been thinking about for the past few days.