Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Truth About Christianity and Politics

I heard a good one the other day:

A man dies and and ends up meeting St. Peter at the gates of heaven. As they walk together along the vast corridor leading to heaven itself... the man notices clocks on the wall and asks St. Peter what they relate to.

"Oh" says Peter "they are Lie clocks!"

The man looks bemused and asks Peter to explain...

Peter continues "The clocks record how much people lie - the further on in time from 12 noon the time shows... the greater the time on the clock. You see over there? That's Mother Teresa's clock... as you can see, it's only 5 past 12 so she only told a few lies. Over there is Abraham Lincoln... who at 5 to 1 has told a few more but isn't too bad."

The man, who was English on Earth is curious and so asks St. Peter where Tony Blair's clock is...

Peter solemnly replied "Tony Blair;'s clock? Oh yes, it's in Jesus' office... he uses it as a desk fan!"

It doesn't matter what you think of Tony Blair... that is fairly irrelevant to what my post is about. Although his political stance is at the very centre of what I am addressing.

In the modern world, it is very easy to label Christianity as a whole as being authoritarian right wing... especially as the leading politicians who appear to subscribe to it, are largely neo-conservatives.

I'm a Christian...

... I'm not neo-conservative.

My economic views are largely left wing and I am ever so slightly liberal according to the political compass. In fact it would appear I am diametrically opposed to Tony Blair, George W. Bush and the like. I get annoyed because people bang on about Blair being a Christian, but conveniently forget that he reads the Koran, wears a Hindu charm bracelet and has a new age spiritual advisor. In fact Tony Blair describes himself as an Anglo-catholic charismatic... which practically covers every base as far as Christian denominations are concerned. Whatever Blair believes, it is clear that he is keen to have a finger in every pie... so he can appeal to as many people with differing beliefs as possible. the question is, is that just canny politics... or is it spiritual prostitution? Whichever is true of him, I offer a stark warning: those who appear to try and stand for everything... are often the ones who inf act stand for nothing at all.

So what do I think about Christianity and politics?

Christianity is not about using political power and statutory authority to enforce belief among non-believers. Do I believe God is calling all of humanity to righteousness? Yes of course... but at the end of the day, every person has to choose salvation for themselves... you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink!

Of course I want EVERYONE to drink from the living waters found in Jesus Christ... but I am convinced they need to do that out of choice and not be politically levered into it.

I am very skeptical about people who go into party politics. Politics itself is a career path for people who desire power... and no matter how noble their intentions at starting out, no matter what they desired that power for... the old saying remains true - power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Does that mean I believe Christians should remain politically inactive and silent on issues that concern them? No, not at all. Some of the greatest forces for political change, were not politicians themselves: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the suffragettes - just some examples of people who were not politicians... but who irrevocably changed the nature of politics in their lifetimes.

If you want to use politics to advance the Gospel message, then the best way is not to debate about morality... but to use your resources to benefit the poor and needy It says in James 1:27 that:

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

How wonderful is that? People should not identify Christians primarily by their political stance... but by their love!

Take care of people's physical, emotional and psychological needs and sooner or later they will ask you why you do it. The reason why we do it is because we love them and God loves them and we want them to know it in every way.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:50 pm

    Excellent post. Love for our fellow man is what it's all about.


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