Law and Order

In no other arena is the church at greater risk of losing its calling than in the public square
— Phillip Yancey

Prime Time

It is an eventful month in American Politics. In a couple of days, the general election for the midterms is coming up and the public is ready to show up at the polls to cast their ballots and decide who is going to lead the space of politics for the next 2, 4, and 6 years. After that, the American public will be honoring Veterans and remembering those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom that we enjoy today. The freedom of speech, religion, and practice that it is a delight to many in our circles today.

It is a time where people worry and start to move towards a close study of the landscape and an analysis of the results, for they will determine the nature of society for the future. During the present, the partisan engagement and polarization of our situation has made this time to be prime to enact change. Afterwards, the public will move towards the thanksgiving season and “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Police, Military, and Conflict

However, the events following during this month are not the only ones under the minds of American Christianity, in general, or Adventism, in particular. The realities of communities in pain because of police brutality, the raging wars in Syria, South Sudan, and the impending North Korean Nuclear Conflict, the political tug of war with Saudi Arabia are all part of the embedded context that Americans are part of when it comes to the polling stations in which they will cast their votes.

Therefore, it is important to remember the roots of reasoning under which Christianity ought to engage with the politicians of the time. It is true that the Christian sphere is not called to partisan engagement. However, politics are part of the fabric of Christianity, given that we represent a Kingdom out of this world. Christians are politicians and lobbyists of the Kingdom of God. They are not only bystanders. We are engagers and proclaimers of the prophetic word. We are preaching the truth from the word of God and examples of the life of Christ.

Re-Engage

As a result, the call of Christianity is not about letting politics be a matter of the saeculum. Rather, we ought to advance the manifesto from the Kingdom as expressed by Jesus in Matthew 5-7. Jesus did not let the politics of His time detriment from the message that He came to deliver. He worked with the Romans as much as He could and rebuked those who tried to put the religious against the political. While Jesus did know there was a difference between Caesar and God (Matthew 22), He always worked within the sphere of the permissible (John 8).

Jesus was a revolutionary. He defied the times by His very nature. He broke the law, but always within the context of those in need or for those who did not have a voice. He did not disengaged from the politics of the time, but rather was a voice to those who were brokenhearted and captive by the sophism of the empire.

A short principle.

Jesus is calling us to engage with the world, to be a light in it. He is hoping that we respect the law and work with it and advance His work. However, He also calls us to defy it when it disagrees with the Kingdom and denigrates human dignity and value.

If the church is not political, it is irrelevant to the world God so loves. If the church is partisan, it becomes a tool of the Empire.
— Aaron Niequist